Our autumn sensory tray provides a fun activity for 2 and 3 year olds to benefit from a range of sensory experiences including some colours and natural elements associated with autumn. We also placed our tray in an outdoor environment to allow our helper to fully experience the sounds, sights, smell and feel of autumn.
Please note: Conkers are toxic if eaten. Children should be fully supervised when playing with conkers and hands should be washed afterwards. There have also been concerns in schools over children with nut allergies handling conkers. Further information can be found on the anaphylaxis campaign website.
To create our Autumn Sensory Tray, we used:
- A Gratnells activity tray
- Brown and orange lentils
- A mini pumpkin (available in supermarkets)
- Fine motor tools set
- Plastic rake
- Pine cones
- A selection of natural treasure basket items
- Conkers (collected by children!)
- Corrugated leaves
- A basket or container
Our 2 year old helper was really enthusiastic about playing with our sensory tray. She immediately got started scooping the lentils and conkers with the tools and filling the basket. She enjoyed raking and sorting the leaves into the basket and holding the pumpkin.
She also enjoyed scattering the lentils and running them through her hands.
Sensory trays are not only fun but a great learning opportunity. Our autumn sensory tray can be used to introduce the subject of autumn with the opportunity to talk about the colours, the sounds and the smells of autumn. The tools are fantastic for fine motor and hand eye co ordination practice. Sensory trays offers a safe and easy way to supplement open ended play and sensory exploration. They are also relatively low cost to set using natural items and resources that many early years settings may already have. They can easily be refreshed, updated and changed according to children’s interests, topics or the seasons.
This activity could also offer additional learning opportunities:
- Maths – counting and sorting conkers and leaves
- Literacy – using lentils for mark making. An autumn sensory tray can also be used to bring a book to life e.g. Autumn by Gerda Muller, Let it Fall by Maryann Cocca-Lefler, Squirrel’s Autumn Search by Anita Loughrey or We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger.
- Understanding the world – talking about seeds, leaves and what happens to plants in the autumn. Adding small toys such as hedgehogs and squirrels will give children the opportunity to explore hibernation.
- Physical Development – children can collect natural resources to add to an autumn sensory tray e.g. conkers, leaves.
Do your children enjoy exploring sensory trays? what would you add to an Autumn sensory tray?
For more fun seasonal activities visit our autumn page or follow us on Pinterest.
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