This Thanksgiving sensory bin is quick and easy to put together and use with your toddlers and preschoolers. A simple thanksgiving activity that helps to develop fine motor skills, sensory exploration, and imaginative play this easy sensory bin also works really well for fall.

Top down view of a simple sensory bin set up for fall and thanksgiving with leaves, acorns, wood slices and turkey feathers plus tools for scooping, picking and more. Some of the wood slices have words of gratitude on them.

Thanksgiving Sensory Tub

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Sensory Bins are a great way to integrate conversations, play, and sensory activities and allow children of different ages to play side by side.

This easy-to-set-up sensory bin is a low mess. It would also work really well as a fall sensory bin so why not keep it set up for a while and not just for Thanksgiving.

What Age is this Sensory Bin Good for?

This sensory bin for Thanksgiving is great for preschoolers and can be used with toddlers but switch the small acorns which are choking hazard for larger pine cones or similar natural objects.

Materials Needed for this Thanksgiving Sensory Play Idea

  • Large storage bin
  • Leaves (silk or preserved) – read these instruction on how to preserve leaves from Red Ted Art
  • Acorns (or other nuts)
  • Wood slices
  • Feathers large like a turkeys are ideal.
  • Bowls
  • Spoons
  • Scoops
  • Large plastic tweezers or tongs

You could also add in some mini pumpkins, gourds, cranberries, pine cones

Why not try some of our Food-free Sensory Bin Ideas for Toddlers

How to Set Up the Thanksgiving Sensory Tub

Add your sensory bin materials to a large storage bin.

I chose to use silk leaves as my filler for this sensory bin. You could use real leaves, but they will eventually dry out and crumble, however the silk leaves are soft and will last forever.

We collected acorns on one of our nature hikes, so I added those to the sensory bin as well. Some of the acorns have a pointy bottom. Just sand the pointy part down a bit before adding these acorns to your Thanksgiving sensory bin because they can be really sharp.

A simple sensory tub set up for fall with wood slices with words on, acorns and leaves plus turkey features in fall colours and tools for using with the sensory bin

Safety note: Always supervise children during sensory bin play, be mindful of those that like to place things in their mouths. Avoid using small items.

Wood slices are another great natural material to add to your sensory bin, you can buy them at a crafty/hobby store or you can cut your own as we did.

Write what you are thankful for on the wood slices. As your child picks up the wood slices, talk about what the words mean and why you are thankful for them.

Keep the feathers handy and use them for some pre-writing practice with your little ones with this Feather Writing Activity.

Pinnable image for a Thanksgiving Easy Sensory Bin showing it set up and a child playing in the sensory tub

How about making some fall playdough and use the feathers, acorns and leaves to create prints as an additional Thanksgiving Sensory Play Activity.

Fun Ways to Play with this Thanksgiving Sensory Play Idea

kids playing in a sensory bin using it to share what they are thankful for

I also added red, orange, and yellow feathers to the sensory bin to bring the Thanksgiving Turkey into the play. This provides another texture and shapes for your child to manipulate.

The bowls and spoons invite children to add pouring, scooping and more to this Thanksgiving Theme sensory tub. My kids added the different items to the bowls and stirred them around.

Making Thanksgiving pretend soup in a sensory bin set up for toddlers and preschoolers to play together

They used the large tweezers to pick up the items as well. Tweezers help to work on fine motor skills.

Using large tweezers within a sensory bin set up for fall and Thanksgiving

You can also encourage your child to stack and build towers with the wood slices.

stacking wood slices within a sensory bin for autumn and talking about giving thanks

Hide everything under a pile of leaves to mix up the activity. What can you find underneath?

using silk leaves to hide objects in the sensory tub

Why we love this Thanksgiving Sensory Play Activity

I love that this Thanksgiving sensory bin is low prep and low mess. My kids kept everything in the bin and loved playing with it for a long time.

If you are doing this activity with more than one child then make sure your storage bin is large enough for each of them to sit beside it.

But, be sure you have enough materials for them to share.

children playing together in the sensory bin

Why not make some Sweet Potato Play Dough and use as an extra sensory play idea for November too

More Activities for Fall for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Kids in scarves holding fall leaves the text reads Autumn Nature Study Activities and Ideas for Kids
collage of easy and simple leaf activities and crafts to do at home with toddlers and preschoolers
toddler holding a bunch of colourful autumn leaves in the forest text overlay reads Outdoor Activities for Autumn with Tots
Thanksgiving sensory bin
Author
Trisha Stanley

Trisha is an educator with a passion for science literacy and mom to Aiden, Lily, and Elon.

She’s the creator of Inspiration Laboratories, a blog dedicated to encouraging learning through creativity and play.

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