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How to create a fall sensory box

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Welcome autumn with your child's senses

Sensory activities are an important way to encourage kids of any age to explore the colors, textures and shapes around them. From dyed pasta pieces to autumn textures and scents, learn how to create a fall sensory box.

Welcome autumn with your child's senses

Sensory activities are an important way to encourage kids of any age to explore the colors, textures and shapes around them. From dyed pasta pieces to autumn textures and scents, learn how to create a fall sensory box.

Fall sensory box

Benefits of sensory activities

Sensory integration (SI), also known as sensory processing (SP) is the way your body organizes sensory messages and tells your body how to respond with the appropriate motor and behavioral reactions. However, for children with Sensory Processing Disorder, the brain is unable to receive and interpret sensory information correctly, making it difficult to process and respond to sights, sounds, textures and more — even everyday tasks. By stimulating children's senses through sensory boxes, these activities disguise sensory therapy through fun activities.

Discover more sensory crafts for kids >> 

Fall sensory box materials

What you'll need:

  • Plastic container or bowl
  • Dried pasta in interesting shapes and colors
  • Colorful beans
  • Tree bark
  • Fall leaves
  • Pine cones
  • Autumn pumpkins and gourds
  • Rice
  • Cups or measuring cups

What you'll do:

  1. Add a mixture of pasta, beans, rice, tree bark, pine cones, plastic animals and autumn gourds to your plastic box.
  2. Next, place small cups or measuring cups to your box.
  3. Then, encourage your child to touch, listen, smell and explore all of the items in the fall sensory box while explaining what he or she is discovering along the way. Just be sure to supervise your youngster to ensure no small items make it into his mouth and become a choking hazard.

Sensory processing disorder help: What is a sensory diet? >> 

Options for building sensory boxes

The beauty of this activity is that there are no limits to what a sensory box can contain. For a fall-themed sensory box, consider adding in things that are associated with the autumn season, such as:

Texture

  • Bark
  • Pinecones
  • Brown or white rice
  • Velvety leaves
  • Turkey feathers
  • Stalks of wheat

Color

  • Mini pumpkins and gourds
  • Dyed pasta pieces
  • Red, orange, yellow or brown beans in different sizes
  • Fall-themed animal toys such as turkeys, wolves and snakes

Scents

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Dried orange slices
  • Vanilla bean pod
  • Dried apple slices

Sounds

  • Dried corn kernels
  • Crunchy leaves
  • Metal cups and plastic cups
  • Peanuts in shells for shaking
  • Coffee beans

While a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology reports that one in every six children may experience sensory processing challenges that are substantial enough to disrupt everyday life, sensory processing disorders span a broad spectrum of severity. So, whether your child is affected by autism and Sensory Processing Disorder or you are just looking for a way to encourage your child to stimulate and explore through touch, smell, taste, sight and sound, all children can benefit from the fun and stimulation of a fall sensory box! Now that you've discovered how easy it is to create a fall sensory box, get your youngster exploring the sights, smells, sounds and textures of autumn!

Image credit: Michelle Maffei

More about sensory processing

Help children with sensory challenges enjoy the holidays
5 Gifts for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
Does your child have sensory issues or behavior issues?

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