12 Autumn Sensory Play Activities You’ll Fall for

Introduce the sounds, smells and tastes of autumn with easy DIY sensory activities using items found around the house. From apple-scented cloud dough to slimy fall-colored spaghetti, you’ll find lots of ways to play that stimulate the senses and the imagination. Stay close by and supervise young children to avoid choking hazards.

Autumn-Spiced Play Dough with Whole Spices

Mama. Papa. Bubba.

This play dough is a treat for your child's sense of touch and smell, thanks to the addition of autumnal spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add some cinnamon sticks, anise stars and other whole spices (but avoid those that may pose choking hazards until your child is older). The spices add texture to the activity, and give your child something to push into the dough. This is an activity older kids will love to participate in as well. Get the recipe at Mama. Papa. Bubba.

Apple Foam Sensory Bin

Toddler Approved

Squeeze bottles, sponges, tear-free bubble bath and the season's delicious apples are all you need for this fun, foamy activity from Toddler Approved. To keep things clean, lay down a towel or vinyl tablecloth first, or head outside if the weather is nice. Keep the apples you use for other autumn activities, or choose plastic apples or pumpkins if you'd rather use your apples for snacking on. 

Boo Bath

Growing a Jeweled Rose

Scare up some bath-time fun for your little boo! Shaving cream makes perfectly puffy ghosts that glide over dark-colored water in this fun activity. Don’t worry about the tub or your tot staying food-colored; it washes away when playtime is over. Get the DIY from Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Fall Sensory Soup

And Next Comes L

The rich colors of fall shine bright in this sensory soup. Choose orange or red food coloring for the water and add acrylic leaves and kitchen utensils for your child to play with. Baby will delight in scooping, pouring and splashing. Find out how to make this from And Next Comes L.

Slimy Spaghetti

Hands On As We Grow

Slippery spaghetti is fascinating for babies, and an inexpensive toy as well. Add autumn-themed food coloring, a cauldron (a bucket or large cup) and some plastic spoons, and watch your little witch or wizard conjure up fun. Jamie, master mama of play at Hands On As We Grow, suggests adding a dollop of oil to the noodles to up the slime factor.

Squishy Squashes

Greg Melia via Flickr

Squash, pumpkins and gourds offer your baby a cornucopia of colors, textures and shapes to explore, way before you get to any pumpkin carving. Fill a small bowl with them and top with a towel to let your child discover these autumn treasures. Then cut one open and scoop out some gooey insides for your child to squish, removing any choking hazards like pumpkin seeds.

Apple-Scented Cloud Dough

Growing a Jeweled Rose

As sweet as mom’s apple pie, this scented sensory will spice up playtime for babies. The cloud dough is made from a simple recipe of flour, vegetable oil and apple-pie spice, so it’s non-toxic if nibbled. Throw in some apple-shaped foam pieces, scoopers and muffin tins for more small motor skills. If you don’t have any apple spice handy, Growing a Jeweled Rose recommends cinnamon.

Gloopy Sensory Bags

Plain Vanilla Mom

Take sensory bags to the next level with this Halloween-theme. Jennifer, the crafter-in-chief at Plain Vanilla Mom, suggests using colored water instead of the usual hair gel; it allows the spiders to do more creeping and crawling, and jiggles the eyes to scare up a laugh or two.

Halloween Handprints

Parker’s Mommy

Using simple ingredients you probably already have on hand (just salt, flour, water and paint), you can create spooktacular prints with your little pumpkin. Keep them to use as decorations for future Halloweens, or give them away to family members for the holidays. Find out how it’s done from Parker’s Mommy.

Edible Eyeballs

Fun at Home with Kids

Squishy, slimy eyeballs are fun to poke and smash on Halloween or any other autumn day. They’re made from gelatin, food coloring, raisins and cooking oil, so they're edible if baby takes a bite, and they don’t pose a choking hazard. Head to Fun At Home With Kids for instructions on how to make them.

DIY Blackberry Play Dough

Rainy Day Mum

If you're looking for a break from apple and pumpkin-spiced everything, this blackberry playdough is completely non-toxic and has a luscious color and scent, thanks to the inclusion of real blackberries in the dough. Your baby can even help you squish the berries to make it. Rainy Day Mum shares the steps and all the tools you’ll need.

Leafy Adventures

Abby Batchelder via Flickr

Nature creates its own sensory play activity for us with fallen leaves in stunning autumn colors. Take a walk outside with your child to look at the different colors and shapes, feel the brittle texture, and listen to the crunching under your feet. Bring a bucket to collect some leaves and make a pile for playing in.


—Gabby Cullen

featured image: Mama. Papa. Bubba



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