10 Simple Sensory Play Ideas for Autumn

If you’re looking for simple sensory play ideas for Autumn, then you’ve come to the right place! This post is a round-up of 10 ideas for toddlers and preschoolers that can easily be recreated at home.

5 Benefits of Sensory Play Ideas for Autumn

All sensory play has many benefits, but it can feel off putting when the play is messy! As well as being a great way to make connections to the world around them, here are some more reasons why you should try these sensory play ideas for Autumn

  1. Gives children the freedom to explore new materials which in turn fosters curiosity and imagination. There is no right or wrong outcome when it comes to sensory play.
  2. Helps to develop fine motor skills and hand strength. This is crucial for learning to write later on down the line
  3. Encourages communication and language development. Sensory play can be a really social activity, particularly if you invite friends to join in!
  4. Helps to develop spatial awareness as children begin to understand the environment around them via exploration of materials.
  5. Boosts brain development which in turn helps ability to problem solve. Sensory play is a great introduction to STEAM learning.

You can read more about the benefits of sensory play here. 

Age Recommendations

All of these Sensory play ideas for Autumn  are suitable for children aged from 3 onwards and are intended to be done under supervision. If your child is at the stage where they put items into their mouths avoid small object that might pose a choking hazard – pompoms and small beads, for example.

10 Simple Sensory Play Ideas for Autumn

Below are 10 Autumn sensory play ideas that you can try at home. All are relatively simple to set up, but some are messier than others. If you need help getting started with sensory play, read this blog post first. 

Read right to the end of this post to find even more pumpkin ideas and Autumn themes!


1.Pumpkin Patch

an overhead photograph of a pumpkin patch - one of the simple sensory play ideas for autumn. It contains rice that is dyed orange, yellow and red along with kitchen utensils, pumpkins and pinecones


  • 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. My daughter, who was 3 when we did this activity,  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 my daughter 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.


2. Bubble Foam Pumpkin Spice Latte

a 3 year old girl makes pumpkin spice 'lattes' in her play kitchen. The lattes are made with bubble foam

Bubble foam is a really easy sensory play option. All you need to do is mix 2 tablespoons of washing up liquid or bubble bath with 2/3 of a cup of water. Add this into a blender with a food dye of your choice, then whip the mixture up!

Alternatively, just add the ingredients into a mixing bowl for your child to mix – such a great gross motor and fine motor workout!

For this activity, we also added a little bit of pumpkin spice mix for a more Autumnal theme along with recycled Starbucks coffee cups.

3. Easy Pumpkin Sensory

a 2 year old blonde boy mixed pumpkin seeds in an outdoor sensory play tray

One of the things I find really tricky about Halloween is buying a pumpkin but essentially wasting a lot of it in the name of decoration. I do really enjoy the decorative pumpkins so what I try to do is make the most with sensory play! This is one of the easiest pumpkin ideas on the list as you don’t have to prep much.

Essentially, this is a really simple activity to try with your little ones. When hollowing out a pumpkin for decoration, let them help scoop the ‘innards’ out. Age depending, you might need to do most of the legwork in terms of loosening the flesh, but after that, it’s a lot of fun for the children to play pretend: making pumpkin pies of soup, for instance.

For an extra bit of fine motor work, you can even invite them to find all of the pumpkin seeds with their fingers or a fine motor tool so that they can be re-harvested for the following year. Now, I am no gardening expert, but I did find a useful article from Gardening Know How, which you can read here!

4. Lentil Sensory Bin

a 3 year old blonde boy stacks orange, red and yellow wooden cups as he plays with a lentil sensory play bin

One of the easiest sensory play ideas for Autumn is to simply add a bag of red lentils to your sensory bin along with Autumnal nature treasures and pumpkins.


5. Gruffalo ‘Crumble’ Sensory Bin

an overhead photographs of the Gruffalo Crumble - one of our simple sensory play ideas for Autumn. It contains oats, googly eyes, orange and purple feathers plus a copy of the Gruffalo

This simple sensory play idea is great for fans of The Gruffalo. To make the Gruffalo crumble, you will need:

  • stale oats or cereal
  • Purple and orange craft supplies (for the Gruffalo)
  • mini spoons and utensils
  • wooden bowls
  • a copy of The Gruffalo

6. Spice Paint

an overhead photograph of the spice paint activity featuring leaves and a variety of spices which have been mixed with water to create paint

Using spices as paint is a fun, simple and sensory way to recreate Autumnal colours with natural dyes.

I’d advise that you do this activity with preschoolers. This is because very young children tend to smear paint everywhere – including their faces. Some spices might cause irritation to the eyes so always use your best judgement when using spices to paint!

To recreate this activity, simply check which spices you have in your store cupboard, then double check any safety requirements. For example, Nutmeg is known as a hallucinogenic!

Once you’ve selected the spices, add a small amount of each to a paint palette and provide water and paintbrushes for mixing.

We also added leaves that we had collected on a nature walk to act as inspiration for our painting activity.

7. Feed the Farm Animals Sensory Play Activity

An overhead photograph of a farm themed sensory bin which has been filled with stale cornflakes, plus little people farm animals

To me, Autumn also seem synonymous with farm themed activities. With harvest season in full swing, it makes sense to cover farming and animals with young children.

All you need to make this work is some stale cereal, farm animals and recycling (egg cartons or plastic containers) to act as the ‘trough’.

8. Woodland Animal Playdough Prints

an overhead photograph of cinnamon and coffee play dough that has been rolled out and used to stamp paw prints from woodland animal toys

Play dough is a staple activity for fine motor skills – to make it Autumn themed, try our Pumpkin Spice play dough or use coffee grounds and cinnamon instead. Add a few woodland themed toys or nature treasures, then explore the prints that have been left in the dough.

You can read more about Autumn themed fine motor activities here. 

9. Pumpkin Soup

a jug of water is being poured into a circular tray full of autumn themed resources such as pumpkins, conkers and twigs. The water has been dyed orange with food colouring for this simple autumn sensory activity

During the Autumn months, we always find an abundance of nature treasures when we go on weekend walks in the countryside. Usually, a pocket full of pinecones, leaves and sticks will find their way home with us. We use these resources in many Autumn themed activities, including this super simple ‘soup’.

You can read more about this activity here. 

10. Wash the Pumpkins

a toddler boy plays with a wash the pumpkins sensory bin

As the name suggests, we’re simply putting some pumpkins into water, along with some bubbles and washing them! It’s a really simple sensory bin for toddlers that helps them to work a number of early learning skills including hand-eye coordination, motor skills development and focus.

In addition, this wash the pumpkins activity will also help your toddler to learn about the world around them. Hands-on activities are the best way for children to learn about seasonal changes and Autumn is one of the best for being able to get real resources in which to play with.

You can read the full blog post here. 

At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp

If you enjoyed these sensory play ideas for Autumn and wanted to find more fun Autumn themed activities, check out the At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp in my membership group. If you would like to access the content, you can check it out here. 

This image shows a timetable for an Autumn art & sensory camp. The pumpkin hammer art is one of the activities included


Autumn Blog posts to read next:

You might also enjoy some of our other Autumn posts. Most are suitable for both toddlers and preschoolers:

Autumn Art Ideas for Preschoolers

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Mask

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts

Autumn Loose Parts Play

Autumn Preschool Leaf Cutting Tray

Apple Playdough Activity

Farm Playdough Ideas

Sunflower Sensory Play Activity 

Pumpkin Hammer Art 

Pumpkin Gloop 

Simple Autumn Sensory: Pumpkin soup

You can also search the keyword ‘Autumn’ in the blog search bar for the most up-to-date Autumn blog post listing.


Interested in learning more?

If you enjoyed these  sensory play ideas for Autumn and want to learn more about sensory play and the importance of play in the early years, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Sensory Play Mini Course

Starting School Mini Course 

Play Space 101 Mini Course

Toys 101 Mini Course



Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.