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Spooky Trees Sensory Bin

Now that my first sensory bin is in the books and it wasn't a total disaster, I'm on to the next!

Something fun to know about me: I just LOVE thematic learning! There's something about connecting learn and play experiences to seasons and celebrations and overarching themes that makes it all connect. I've been described as a "compartmentalizer" in the past (makes sense, my whole blog is about categorizing thoughts into "rooms" lol), so that's why I enjoy tucking activities into little themes. Even our WonderHere Family-Style Curriculum is designed this way, and I thrive whenever I get to write a unit and make all tie in together.

September was all about the farm life, and now October is for a sprinkle of spookiness! And yes, just a sprinkle. I attempted to make a more Halloween-themed sensory bin with spiders and eyeballs and skeleton hands that did not go over well (E kept saying he was scared... yikes, ma!). This Spooky Trees Sensory Bin is a more simplified.

The Invitation

I encourage you - as you create beautiful, creative, unique opportunities for your child to learn through play - that you surrender the idea of the purpose of play and embrace the invitation to play. Setting up activities as invitations rather than dictations is actually a foundational tenet of our WonderHere Family-Style Curriculum (you'll see me reference WonderHere a lot in this Playroom because it's my baby and my life source, lol).

For this sensory bin, I invited E to "add colorful fall leaves to his trees", which in this case means threading wooden beads onto pipe cleaners. This is a great opportunity to practice fine motor skills, color identification, and creativity.


Set Up

  1. Take 4 pipe cleaners and twist them together, leaving about an inch of pipe cleaner at the base untwisted and half of the top untwisted (this part will be the branches)

  2. Tape down the base to the tray to hold the “tree” down

  3. Bend the 4 untwisted tops to resemble crooked branches

  4. Repeat for the 3 remaining trees

  5. Cover with black beans

  6. Sprinkle colored beads throughout or have them available in a cup

  7. Let playtime begin!


He enjoyed threading the beads through the pipe cleaners, pretending they were leaves on trees. He practiced naming the color of each bead as he played. And, of course, he eventually brought out the tractor to scoop up the beans.

We also had no dumping incidents this time around, thankfully. He seems to understand a bit better the boundaries surrounding sensory playtime, but I know it's something I need to keep reinforcing.

How's sensory play going in your home or classroom?

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