Fall Sensory Bin from the $1 Store

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I’m going to be honest with you all. I haven’t been the best homeschooling mom when it comes to preschoolers. We didn’t start homeschooling our oldest until he was in kindergarten, so as my others have grown – it’s been a struggle. It’s mostly been play and fun. But, this year with two in Kindergarten and a preschooler, I wanted to be more purposeful with our “play” times this year.

Sensory bins are a great way for toddlers to learn. Check out this Fall themed sensory bin made with items from the $1 Store!!

My poor kids. I’m not a very crafty person and I can’t stand paints. Messy…messy…MESSY!!!

I have always loved the idea of the sensory bins, but truthfully they freak me out. I tried cloud dough with our oldest once and it was quite frankly, a disaster. It was everywhere and I vowed right then and there that we would ne-ver do that again. And we didn’t. However, I am now convinced that was absolutely the wrong decision. So last week I decided we were going to try a Fall Sensory Bin and I was determined.

My husband gave me a strict budget, since our own budget is pretty tight, so I drove to the dollar store with my four-year old in tow and we searched the entire store for a bin and items to fill it up. Now, a couple of these items came from the dollar spot at Target, but they were still a dollar. So here’s what we came up with:

Create a Fall Sensory Bin with items from the $1 store and $1 spot at Target!!


Clear bin/tote

River Rocks (large, medium and small)

Pumpkins and gourds

Felt leaves


Apple-Pumpkin Scented candle

Foam sticker leaves (Target)

Foam sticker pumpkins (Target)


I could hardly believe we found so many great items for our first bin on our excursion. In fact, I was so excited and could hardly wait until it was planned in our school day to “play.” But, we waited and I’m so glad we did! I kept telling my 3-year old all week that we were going to play on Friday and she could not contain her excitement.

Create a Fall Sensory Bin with items from the $1 store and $1 spot at Target!!

So on Friday we dumped out all of our items and began piling them into the bin. We started with the rocks and layered them from large to small. Then I added the styrofoam pumpkins and gourds, followed by the felt leaves, fall scented candle, the foam sticker leaves and pumpkins and voila – DONE! Now, I didn’t just pour it all in without a rhyme or reason. I really tried to mix them up and put things down under some of the rocks so she had “dig” for them.

Create a Fall Sensory Bin with items from the $1 store and $1 spot at Target!!

Then, I got a muffin tin from the kitchen and sorted one of each item into the cups. We are still working on our colors, so I thought this would be a great way to reinforce them. So, I would ask her if she could “find any other big leaves” in the bin. And off she’d go “searching and digging” for whatever I said.

Create a Fall Sensory Bin with items from the $1 store and $1 spot at Target!!

She would look and look for the items I mentioned. She had great fun digging with her scoop and matching them in the muffin tin.

Create a Fall Sensory Bin with items from the $1 store and $1 spot at Target!!

She absolutely loved finding the items and scooping them out. She literally played with the bin and its contents for nearly 45 minutes, which is a miracle for a very busy and active 3 year old.

Create a Fall Sensory Bin with items from the $1 store and $1 spot at Target!!

While she was digging and scooping, I also asked her to smell the candle. Although she couldn’t tell me what it smelled like – other than “yummy, mommy” – she had fun sniffing. I did tell her what it smelled like so she would know, but I’m not sure it registered with her being only 3 years old.

All in all, I would say our $10 sensory bin was a success! We will bring it out a few more times this season for more fun. I cannot wait to go back and see what I can find for our next sensory bin! Of course, there are other items you can add to the bin, which you might have around your house or yard – pinecones, acorns, sticks. Be creative and have the kids help you fill it!

Do you use sensory bins in your homeschool? Where do you find your contents?

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. we absolutely LOVE sensory tubs!! We have 5 right now. As I type this, my daughter is playing with a dinosaur themed sensory tub. Also made from all items from the dollar store. Rocks, fake leaves, mini dinosaurs and green plastic easter eggs for the dinos to “hatch” from.
    We also have a gardening one that my kids love. Black beans, little plastic flower pots, fake flowers (cut to like 3-4 inch stems) and plastic gardening tools. They love planting flowers and scooping and I usually always make my tubs from Dollar Tree items.

    1. Those sound like so much fun!! I’m sure we will be doing more in the coming weeks and months! Thanks for stopping by and sharing what you use!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This is our second year homeschooling and I’ve been so afraid to attempt anything with my 3 yo. We pulled the other kids out after several years in public school so most of the basics had already been established. I have been terrified of the thought and responsibility of teaching everything to my youngest. I bought rice, funnels and measuring cups yesterday to make a sensory bin to start dipping our toes into preschool and love the idea of changing seasonal bins.

    BTW, I love love love your weekly lesson planner. It has helped us tremendously. It gives me and my oldest the structure our OCD needs but it’s not too much that I feel like a failure if we get “off”.

    1. You are so welcome Megan! I hope you and your little one enjoy diving in to more fun sensory bins together!! Thanks for stopping by!

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Hi, there! I’m Heather Bowen, and I am so glad you’re here.

My passion lies in helping homeschool moms balance marriage, motherhood, homemaking, and homeschooling all while remaining sane!

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