Thanksgiving Sensory Bin

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This Thanksgiving Sensory Bin was a fun way to foster imaginative play and develop motor skills through a sensory, textural experience. The sensory bin is a Thanksgiving activity that we enjoyed, but it would make a fun Fall sensory bin too, as it used many colors and textures of Fall. Adding in field corn, dry leaves, feathers, textured materials adds opportunities for scooping, pouring, and exploring with a Thanksgiving theme!

Thanksgiving sensory bin for kids to play and explore textures while building fine motor skills.

Thanksgiving Sensory Bin

Sensory Bins are so great for exploring textures and fostering imaginative play.  They are so easy and inexpensive to make up  and can go in any theme…If your son loves superheroes, throw Spiderman figures into a bin of rice with a couple of Halloween spider rings, and you have an instant play area that can last all day long!  Use items and toys that interest your child’s passions for a sensory play experience that can also build skills.

While the kids are exploring, imagining, fostering creativity, they are learning so much…building their confidence,  language skills, fine motor dexterity…and SO much more!    

This holiday sensory bin offers a chance for kids to talk about Thanksgiving and discover items that foster thought, creative thinking, or family-centered materials. Items in the Thanksgiving Sensory bin can inspire gratitude and can be centered on what’s important to your family.

Thanksgiving sensory ideas for sensory play and exploration, using many Fall materials.

Thanksgiving Sensory Bin Base Materials

Sensory bins can be made from any dry or wet material, water, shredded paper, packing peanuts…The possibilities are endless. Here are sensory base ideas to start with.

To make this Thanksgiving sensory bin, you can use materials that you find around your home or outdoors. Other items can be found at the dollar store.

Start with your Thanksgiving sensory play base material. Some ideas include dry field corn or regular popcorn, rice, dry beans, split peas. Non-food sensory bin materials can include shredded paper, feathers, or Fall leaves from outside. Dump the sensory bin base material into an under-the-bed-storage bin or other large, low bin or tray.  

NOTE: Be prepared for corn/rice/split peas to scatter all over the floor.  Ignore it. Play with the kids, they can help clean up later…working that pincer grasp to pick up grains of corn from the floor 😉   Or not… Either way, enjoy the play/learning/growth experience with your kids and don’t worry about the mess. Brooming up corn into a dustpan is another fantastic occupation for kids. 🙂

If keeping the spill factor to a minimum is a must, try using a tablecloth under the sensory bin. Or, take the sensory bin outdoors if you like.

Thanksgiving sensory play ideas for kids include making a sensory bin with turkeys, wheat stalks, gourds, and more.

Add Thanksgiving Items

Next, add materials to manipulate, find, hide, scoop, and pour.

Make the Thanksgiving sensory play meaningful by adding items that foster gratitude and thankfulness. One sensory bin item can include gratitude leaves like we made for our Thanksgiving tree. Cut paper leaves and each family member can write what they are thankful for. Scatter the leaves in the sensory bin. Best of all, you can reuse those gratitude leaves after the sensory play is done. Make a Thanksgiving tree like we did, or hang them on a Thanksgiving garland.

Other Thanksgiving Sensory Bin materials include:

  • Fabric scraps
  • Gratitude leaves
  • Fake leaves
  • Real leaves
  • Paper leaves
  • Fall décor
  • Feathers
  • Acorns
  • Scraps of paper
  • Gourds
  • Decorations
  • Turkey figures
  • Wheat sprigs
  • Pine cones
  • Acorns
This Thanksgiving sensory bin offers opportunities for fine motor skills.

ADD Sensory Bin Scoops

One final piece to a sensory bin are tools to scoop, pour, and sort. These items help to develop areas like fine motor skills, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and bilateral coordination.

Pouring and scooping are an oppourtunity to work on refined motor skills as kids pour the materails without spilling. They can explore how much to tilt the container or how much precision is needed to scoop the materials they want to manipulate.

Some manipulating items to consider for a Thanksgiving sensory bin include:

  • Cups
  • Tongs
  • Tweezers
  • Baskets
  • Small cups
  • Spoons
  • Small bowls

  And baskets for sorting!  

Use baskets, cups, and scoops to help kids build fine motor skills in a Thanksgiving sensory bin.

  Baby Girl thought it would be more fun to climb INTO the corn bin!  

Sensory bin ideas for toddlers

  It feels great on the toes!    (Yes, I stuck my toes in the corn with the kiddos… NO, I will not harm your eyes with THAT picture!)  

    Cute baby toes, YES, we need more pictures of those!   

Thanksgiving sensory bin for toddlers using materials to explore sensory.

    Big Sister started the sorting game.  She collected all of the flowers into this pot.  

Thanksgiving Sensory Bin for Learning

Work on specific concepts with your sensory bin, including:

  • Sorting by colors
  • Adding or subtracting
  • Sorting by patterns or textures
  • Sort by type of object
  • Spatial awareness
  • Size awareness
  • Sort by texture
  • Shapes

Use a sensory bin to help kids learn to sort by color.

Sorting by Color…

Sorting by Object…

Little Guy thought we needed to sort the socks… 🙂

Sensory bin ideas for Thanksgiving include sorting items by texture, shape, and color.
Thanksgiving sensory ideas include this sensory bin with items to scoop and manipulate.

  Everyone enjoyed talking about and feeling the objects… Scratchy wheat stalks:  

    Soft feathers (these were cut from scraps of fabric I had around the house):  

A toddler sensory bin can include different materials and items to explore.

 Little Guy thought it would be pretty fun to lay IN the cool corn to see how that felt: “It’s pretty comfy, Mom”!  

      How many kids can you fit into a bin? It looks like the answer is three. 🙂  

Sensory bin materials include dry corn, fabric swatches, feathers.

      There were lots of colors and textures to explore in this sensory bin!    

Thanksgiving theme sensory bin for exploring colors and textures.
Thanksgiving sensory bin to manipulate and build fine motor skills.


 Scooping, sorting, exploring the senses, fostering creativity, building language skills, working on fine motor skills…We did so much more than just playing with this fun Thanksgiving Sensory Bin! I am Thankful for Today!    

Have you made a fall themed sensory bin? 

More Thanksgiving activities

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Sensory Bin”

  1. What a gorgeous idea! That is such a great way for children to play and get to feel what these items are. Stopping by from the Blog Hope! Have a great week x A new follower too!

  2. I love this! I know my 3 year old will be entertained forever with this and it will be great for the week my K is off school for Thanksgiving! Can't wait to make it for them. Thanks for linking up to Mom's library.

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Thanksgiving sensory bin