Inside: Put together a simple pumpkin sensory table using dyed rice and small pumpkins. A fun way to work on fine motor skills during the fall!
October is the month to explore pumpkins, and that includes sensory play!
I’ve created a super simple pumpkin sensory table that includes one of our favorite fillers: dyed rice.
Then I added small party favor pumpkins, assorted bins, and scoops for some fine motor fun.
Perfect for the pumpkin theme!
Why Sensory Play Is Important
Our students are invited to play with a sensory table activity every day. This area is packed full of benefits, including:
- Language Development
- Fine Motor Development
- Cognitive Development
- Mathematical Skills
- Spacial Awareness
- Problem Solving
You can see many of the sensory bins I’ve put together over the years in this post: Sensory Table Activities for the Entire Year
Fine Motor Pumpkin Sensory Table
- Dyed rice
- Small party-sized pumpkins
- Scoops and small cups
If you have never dyed rice before, it’s so easy!
I’ve used this method with these activities:
- Apple Sensory Bin
- Star Sensory Bin
- Pom Pom Christmas Sensory Bin
- Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin
- Letter Garden Sensory Bin
How to Dye Rice
- Grab a gallon sized plastic baggie that can be sealed.
- Pour about a cup of rice inside the bag.
- Add about a teaspoon of white vinegar.
- Add as much coloring as desired. (I love using Wilton icing color!)
- Seal the bag and shake until the rice is coated well.
- Open the bag and dump the rice onto a paper towel, spreading it out so it’s a very thin layer.
- Allow to dry thoroughly.
If you want to have different colors of rice, do the above procedure for each color and then, when dry, mix the colors.
Setting Up This Activity
First, add your dyed rice. I use a shallow amount (this will depend on the size of your bin) because I’ve learned (the hard way!) that if there is too much, more spills can occur. That’s not to say we don’t have spills, though. But we keep a small hand-held broom and dustpan under the sensory table to sweep what does fall out of the bin.
Then, add the rest of your materials.
This is one of the many reasons I love the sensory table. It’s so easy to set up and everything is contained in the bin.
We usually keep each sensory table out for two weeks. During this time it’s not unusual for more materials to find their way into the bin, either “on accident” (you know how toddlers love to move things all over the room!) or deliberately by the teacher.
As I observe how the children are using an area, it’s not uncommon for me to add more if I feel it might be beneficial.
See those hollow blocks in the above photo? After noticing that our toddlers kept holding the small pumpkins outside of the sensory table while filling them (thus, getting rice all over the floor), I added a couple of the blocks to act as tables. I showed the children how to set their pumpkins on top of the blocks and then pour the rice into them.
Fine Motor Benefits
As mentioned earlier, one of the many benefits of the sensory table is developing fine motor skills.
While we provide scoops and small cups, I’ve found the children love using their hands with dyed rice. It’s a great sensory experience – the feeling of the rice AND the sound the rice makes as it falls out of the hand.
Toddlers especially love to scoop and pour. This can be quite calming for those with extra energy, too!
The small pumpkins are the perfect size for their hands and easy to fill … and then, of course, dump back into the bin.
So much exploration taking place through play!
More Pumpkin Collections