Autumn Potion Idea to Try with Kids

We’re in our Harry Potter era and as a result, my daughter is making more potions that ever! Here’s a really easy Autumn potion idea to try with your kids using natural resources.

Autumn in Vienna this year has been a bit of a strange one. For starters, we’re still dealing with 28c weather most days and we haven’t really felt much like getting into the spirit of Halloween. Flowers are still blooming in the garden in the absence of any cold weather to chase them away, and yet the conkers and pinecones are still abundant in the local parks. All of this has resulted in a rather pretty collection of natural resources to use!

Natural resources can be used for so many Autumn themed activities – including loose parts play – however my 7-year-old daughter will often gravitate towards potion making.

The great thing about this Autumn potion – or indeed any potion – is the fact you can make it more scientific as your child gets older. Keep reading this blog post to get some ideas on what to include!


a 7 year old girl makes a potion in a Halloween cauldron using Autumn nature finds and flowers


Suggested Resources for an Autumn Potion

Here are just ideas for what you can use in an Autumn potion. Availability of the items below will depend on where you live.

  1. Leaves: Collect colorful leaves for mixing into mud creations or as pretend food.
  2. Pinecones: These can be used as scoops, dishes, or even as decorations.
  3. Twigs and Branches: Great for stirring, building, or creating mini log cabins.
  4. Acorns: Use them as pretend acorn cups, or create tiny acorn pies and cakes.
  5. Chestnuts / Conkers: Perfect for rolling in the mud or using as natural “meatballs” in play cooking.
  6. Seed Pods: Pods like milkweed or sweetgum can be interesting additions to mud recipes.
  7. Pebbles and Stones: These can be used to decorate mud pies or as play cooking ingredients.
  8. Moss: Create a “mossy garden” or use it to decorate mud structures.
  9. Pine Needles: Use them as broom bristles or add them to your mud creations.
  10. Fallen Flowers: Gather fallen petals to add color and texture to mud dishes.
  11. Bark: Use it as pretend food platters or for building structures.
  12. Small Logs: Ideal for creating miniature log cabins or bridges.
  13. Dried Grass: Make miniature brooms or use it to add texture to mud creations.
  14. Sunflower petals: These can be used for decorating or as pretend salad leaves.
  15. Feathers: Collect fallen feathers for decorating mud pies or as ingredients in imaginary dishes.
  16. Small Pinecones: Mini pinecones can be used as garnish or toppings for mud creations.
  17. Wild Berries: Find and use non-toxic berries for pretend baking and cooking.
  18. Aromatic Herbs: Use herbs like mint or lavender to add a sensory dimension to play.
  19. Small Rocks: Perfect for stacking, building, and creating mud sculptures.
  20. Fallen Tree Bark: Use it for texturing mud creations or as pretend wood chips for “cooking.”

Remember to ensure that any items you gather for your Autumn potion are safe for children to handle and play with, and always supervise them during outdoor activities. Some items listed here might be considered unsuitable for very young children who still put items in their mouth. 

In addition to natural resources you can also try using the following in your Autumn potion:

  • bicarbonate of soda with vinegar – to make the potion fizz
  • bath bombs
  • Halloween sprinkles
  • dried herbs or tea


  • tuff spot tray / large tray to catch any spills
  • old cooking pans and utensils
  • pipettes
  • fine motor tools / tongs
  • baking trays/ cupcake trays
  • plastic cauldron
  • food dye
  • Safety goggles – for any potions you make that have a chemical reaction. Always do your research before mixing ingredients together. 


How to Set up the Autumn Potion Tray

If you want to make an Autumn potion with your child, it’s best done outside where your child can experiment without having to worry about the mess that they make.

Set up all of the resources and ingredients on a large tray in advance and present as an invitation to play for your child to explore.  Then let them use this materials as they see fit – allowing them to see what happens, for example, when vinegar and bicarbonate of soda is added together – there is nothing quite like seeing this reaction through the eyes of a child for the first time!

If you’re worried about materials being wasted or used up too quickly, place them into spray bottles or jars. Remind your child that the only ingredients available are the ones on the tray – this often helps them to slow down!

a 7 year old girl smiles as she adds vinegar to a mini cauldron to make a fizzy potion

Potion Play for the Middle Years

As your child gets older, play is still important and anything that encourages them to embrace STEM activities is a major win. Most weekends, my daughter can be found making potions – often with her best friend.

Whilst we often just use whatever we have in the house, you may also wish to start introducing scientific concepts.

This can sometimes be a tricky balance. You don’t want to turn everything into a school lesson, but at the same time, there’s so many opportunities to learn through play.

Here are some gentle ways to include STEM learning:

  • Ask, ‘I wonder…’ questions. E.g. I wonder what will happen when we mix x and y together? or ‘I wonder why the potion fizzed when these ingredients were mixed?’
  • Try not to just give your child the answer – even when you know it! Encourage research by looking up answers in a science book or on a kid friendly education site.
  • Include accurate vocabulary such as solids, liquids and gasses.

a Harry Potter themed version of the Autumn potion is being made. A 7 year old girl pours a green mixture into a bubbly cauldron. Mini Harry potter figures are visible at the bottom of the picture


At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp

If you wanted to find more fun Autumn themed activities after trying this easy Autumn potion, 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. 


Halloween Posts to read next

If you enjoyed this simple Autumn potion  idea, have a look at our other Halloween themed post ideas.

Halloween themed play space ideas

Simple Pumpkin Collage

10 Pumpkin Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers 

Room on the Broom Playdough Activity 

Halloween Playdough Kit 

Monster Soup

The Easiest Sensory Bin for Halloween 

an example of materials that can be used in an autumn potion. Conkers, twigs, pinecones and flowers are presented on a tuff spot tray along with mini cauldrons

Autumn Blog posts to read next:

You might also  like 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.

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.