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Pumpkin Patch Sensory Bin

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This simple Autumn themed rice bin will keep a range of ages occupied. Both my 17 m/o and 3 year old loved this activity..

You will need:

  • Dyed rice in Autumn colours – we opted from red, orange and yellow
  • Pumpkins
  • Pinecones or other nature treasures
  • Assortment of kitchen utensils or fine motor tools
  • Recycling such as egg cartons and cardboard tubes for scooping and pouring
  • Large plastic tub

With these activities, I always leave them out as an invitation to play. I don’t have any set intention with how the play should go and keep my own involvement to a minimum. Z (3.8 years) spent some time trying to pick up the pumpkins with various tools and then used the utensils to scoop and pour rice onto the pumpkins.

To weave in a little maths, I asked Z which was the biggest and smallest pumpkin. Interestingly, she identified the green pumpkin as the biggest because it was in fact the widest. Another time I might extend this learning by weighing the pumpkins with her.

Once E (17 months) got involved, the play became more of a transferring activity – both enjoyed scooping the rice up and pouring it in to the various containers i’d provided.

Age Recommendations

This activity is recommended for children who no longer mouth everything in sight (usually somewhere between 12 – 18 months). Whilst all of the ingredients used here are technically edible, you need to be careful with uncooked rice – therefore, this is not ideal for babes who put things in their mouths.

Sensory play can of course be a messy business, but exposure to this kind of play is also really important. You can read more about how to deal with the mess via this link.

Key Benefits

Sensory play has so many benefits. Here’s why you should try this activity:

  • It helps build nerve connections within a child’s developing neural pathways which in turn boosts the ability to complete more complex tasks
  • Language development – you can talk about colours, textures and introduce key words such as ‘biggest,’ ‘smallest,’ ‘heaviest’ and ‘lightest,’ for example.
  • Early maths – as well as introducing weights and measures, as mentioned above, this activity also serves as an early introduction to capacity.
  • Fine motor skills – handling tools to scoop and pour the rice
  • Hand- eye coordination

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Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is the founder of Teach Investigate Play. She helps parents navigate the early years by providing meaningful and simple activities. She also owns 'Get Set Social Media' - a social media consultancy for small businesses. From the UK, now living in Vienna (via Australia). About page has more!

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