I love when the leaves start to change color, it creates so many fun Fall-themed learning opportunities with both my 3 year old and 7 year old. For this activity we enjoyed a leaf hunt outside, looking for all sorts of shapes and colors of leaves. I then added a few simple tools and ingredients to turn our new leaf collection into an exciting sensory water table.
What you need:
- Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set™
- Learning Resources Primary Science® Jumbo Eyedroppers
- Learning Resources Primary Science® Jumbo Tweezers
- Sensory table or containers
- Magnifying glass
- Water (we added a few drops of green food coloring for an extra sensory twist)
- Leaves from a nature walk
Start with a nature hunt…
Some of my all-time favorite activities start with a nature walk, there’s just something so special about the learning and creativity that comes from the great outdoors! Before we left the playground we worked together to gather up a fun selection of leaves which had fallen from the trees. As we did so we spoke about the different colors and shapes we could see. I put my 7 year old in charge of also counting how many leaves we had in our collection.
How to set up the table…
Once we got home the kids refuelled with a snack while I quickly put together the water table set up. I used our IKEA FLISAT Children’s Table with two small TROFAST bins and one large one. I added water and 5 drops of green food coloring to the large bin, placed the leaves in one of the small bins, and then the fine motor and cutting tools in the other small bin. It was amazing how inviting this set up looked considering how simple it was!
I always try to keep sensory bin setups as open-ended as possible because I want to build my childrens’ confidence to explore independently. Straight away my 7 year old started to experiment to see whether the leaves would float or sink in the water.
Together they spent ages using their scissors to cut the leaves into different shapes. We had a star, a man, a dinosaur and even a boat floating on the water. The fine motor skills at work were awesome. This is where having an older sibling really helps because it encourages so much creativity and imagination for the little one!
Both my kids enjoyed exploring the different fine motor tools. Big bro liked using the Squeezy Tweezers™ and Handy Scooper™ to rescue the leaves from the water and then dropping them back in. Meanwhile baby sis was all about making the leaf confetti and sprinkling it into her bowls of green leaf soup!
Adding a magnifying glass to any sensory set up is always a great way to stimulate more in depth conversations and observations. The kids were fascinated by the veins running through the leaves and experimented with ripping the leaves to explore them further.
This was such a fun sensory and fine motor set up, and best of all it appealed to both ages. It pays off to ensure that there are a range of open-ended tools and containers with a sensory table because you never quite know how kids will choose to play with it.