Halloween is jam-packed with sensory experiences. Smells, sights, sounds, flavors, and definitely textures are bursting from everything this time of year. Why not gather up some supplies and let your infants, toddlers, and preschoolers go wild. Whether you are a teacher in a classroom or a parent in your home, these 25 Halloween sensory bin ideas are doable and fun for all littles.
**TIP: For very little infants or particularly oral children, put any of the inedible concoctions below into a zip bag, remove the air, and seal for a safe, mess free experience. Always supervise young children when exploring any sensory bin.
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I like to call this clean mud. You will need a bar or two of Ivory soap, a roll of toilet paper, and some water to make this spooky sludge. Some googly eyes would give an extra eerie factor. You can decide the level of involvement depending on the age and capabilities of the children.
Step 1: Grate the soap (slightly frozen bars may make this job easier) and place the shavings in a bin
Step 2: Tear the toilet paper into tiny pieces
Step 3: Slowly add water and mix it all together, exploring the various consistencies as you go
When you reach a consistency you like, squish and squeeze away!
This one might be better off in a zip bag, unless you’re brave. All you need is some hair or aloe gel, a drop or two of green food coloring, and some googly eyes. Combine and start poking, squashing, and sliding those eyes around in the goop.
Try taping it to a window so the light shines through the gel to create a visual experience while the children work on those fine motor skills.
Halloween just wouldn’t be fun without some pumpkin carving. Save those innards for some sensory play. The cool, slimy goo and slippery seeds are sure to elicit either squeals of joy or groans of disgust. As an extension activity, encourage the children to separate the seeds into cups or bowls. Save them for another Halloween sensory bin.
It can be as easy as boiling some pasta, allowing to cool, and going at it. Or you can take it up a notch by adding a few drops of food coloring to a batch or two of the spaghetti water while it cooks. Use green for a creepy effect or purple and orange for a fun Halloween experience.
We added fake bugs and cauldrons, which made it extra gross. Tongs help to work the hand muscles, but the kids loved using their hands.
While you are at the pumpkin patch doing other fall activities, remember to pick up some gourds. They’re bumpy, lumpy, and weirdly shaped so they make a great sensory bin filler. If you can find some smoother ones, they would make an interesting contrast in texture. Alternatively, if you can’t make it to the patch, your local farmer’s market or supermarket should have a decent selection.
Pumpkin Spice Sand
I like this recipe for pumpkin spice moon sand because all the ingredients are edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child ingests any of it. Also, this one doesn’t use flour, which should be baked before presenting to little ones who might put it in their mouths. Yet, this method is super easy and smells great too!
¾ cup Baking Soda
¾ cup Corn Starch
1 ½ Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
¼ cup Vegetable or Canola Oil (use more or less depending on the consistency)
Orange Food Coloring (optional)
Combine all dry ingredients. Slowly add in the oil and work in well to the mixture. I did not need any more than the ¼ cup, but if your sand is dry and does not stick together, drizzle in a tiny bit more and knead well. Last, add in food coloring if desired. *Note: The coloring may not blend to create a solid color, but I found the orange specks appealing anyway.
Dirt & Worms
Okay, not for real. But crushed up chocolate sandwich cookies and gummy worms sure will look like it! Provide some shovels, tweezers, and cups to put the worms in. As a fully edible bin filler, you might find that your children will come out with dirt-y faces. There is also no shame if you sneak a bite or two.
Wrapped Candy Bowl
Have you ever buried your hands in a full candy bowl? Just me? Well it is so satisfying! Candies come in all shapes and sizes and are wrapped in different types of papers. Fill a large bowl of mixed candy and let the children explore the textures, smells, and colors. Additionally, this can be easily extended into a sorting activity. Use peanut free candy if you have allergies.
If you have extra puree from those pumpkin baked goods, just dump it in the sensory bin! It’s edible, smells and taste delicious, and enjoyable to squish. Add in some spoons, cup, or mini pumpkin buckets to help with exploration so it doesn’t just become a feast.
Spiders & Cotton Balls
Cotton feels very similar to cobwebs, so they pair well with a set of spider rings that are plentiful this time of year. When the cotton balls get pulled apart and they start to become webby, you will notice how the spiders begin to cling to the strands. This also does wonders for fine motor skills!
To make this activity more interesting, visit Well Beings with Alysia for spider facts that may help curb any phobia and provide an opportunity for language development.
All you need for this is an ice cube tray or candy mold that is shaped like ghosts or other Halloween characters. Just add water (and a drop of food coloring if you desire) and freeze! You could always add in things like googly eyes, sequins, or bone shaped candies. But leave these out if you are making them for infants or oral toddlers. Preschoolers can brainstorm different ideas that would free the frozen objects. Place them in a bin with salt to help them melt faster.
Glow Sticks & Black Beans
While this may seem plain and boring, cracking a bunch of glow sticks from the dollar store and putting them against the dark backdrop of a bunch of black beans makes an amazing Halloween sensory bin. Use bracelets and necklaces as rings to sort or count out beans. However, we just had fun burying and digging out the sticks. For added effect, turn out the lights and turn on some fun music.
Speaking of turning out the lights; why not keep them off for a bit? When we are in the dark, the rest of our senses heighten. Try any regular sensory bin filler, but this time turn out the light. It will seem like a whole new experience.
This might be a task best prepared the day after Halloween. Gather up all those empty wrappers from that pig out session after getting home from trick or treating and put them in a bin. Wrappers can be crinkled, smoothed out, or ripped up. When you put them in a zip bag, they become a safe way for babies to hear the interesting sounds. Plus, you can use it as an excuse to eat more candy! “What? The kids need more wrappers for their sensory bin…”
Okay, so maybe you can’t put this in a bin or a zip bag, but playing some fun Halloween music and moving to the Monster Mash would be a great sensory experience. Remember, movement and balance are part of senses too. If you have extra glow from the sticks in the earlier activity, you could turn out the lights for a fun party feel.
Witch’s brew is basically some colored water and anything a witch might put in her bubbling pot. Think spiders, rubber bats, eye balls, or toy lizards. Have toddlers and preschoolers help brainstorm and find things around the house or classroom. This is a great bin to expand language and critical thinking skills. Double bag this one if you choose to try the zip bags as a water mat for infants.
Our family always picks multiple pumpkins from the patch for Halloween so we have lots of seeds come carving time. If you separate them from the goo and set them aside, they will dry out and become a cool manipulative for the Halloween sensory bin. Toss in some empty bottles for toddlers and preschoolers to fill up and cap them to make shakers for your Halloween music activity above. Infants will love giving the bottles a shake too.
Toilet paper is a hot commodity as of late, but if you have a roll to spare, let your littles unroll it into a sensory bin to create some mummy wraps. Place some dolls in the bin as well and toddlers and preschoolers can help dress them up for Halloween. Maybe it will also deter them from emptying a roll in the bathroom later. However, I refuse to be held responsible if it doesn’t. 🙂
Take sensory time to snack time. Simply peel a small mandarin and slide a pretzel stick down the center (omit for younger children). Voila! A yummy pumpkin. Whether or not, they choose to eat them or play and squeeze the juices, the experience will be sweet.
The witch has melted and bubbled into foam! Simply color some shaving foam with purple and/or green food coloring. Use mini witch hats, cauldrons, and brooms (like in this convenient set) or creepy witch fingers to make the foam even more spooky. Preschoolers can use this to practice their letter writing skills.
Make up a batch or two of Halloween colored jello and follow the directions to add fruit, plastic or candy bone pieces, or gummy worms. Allow the children to poke the released mold to watch it jiggle and then tear into it to free the creepy surprises inside. Again, omit any inedible fillers for infants and young toddlers.
Cornstarch and water make that mind-blowing solution that isn’t a liquid, but isn’t a solid. When you add green food coloring and maybe some googly eyes, you end up with a ghastly goo that will astound infants and toddlers alike. Since this offers a completely different medium, digging out spooky insects and spiders and watching them drip will be frightfully fun.
Cinnamon Witch’s Broom
Ward off the spookies with a magical scented witch’s broom. Children can give a sweep to release a delightful cinnamon smell. There are smaller sizes that would work well in a sensory bin with Halloween colored rice. Or use the bigger ones and let toddlers and preschoolers pretend to be witches. This item definitely gives you options.
Spider Web Sensory Bag
Walking into a spider web is pretty unsettling. Why not use that as a Halloween fright? With a package of faux spider webs, place them in a brown paper bag. Toss in some spider rings, wiggly gummy worms, and other squishy creepy crawlies and give the bag a shake. Ask the children to reach inside and see what they feel. While similar to the dark play, reaching into a blind bag not knowing what you will touch, provides and extra dose of weird.
Halloween Mix Bin
This is the ultimate Halloween sensory bin idea. A bin like this is loads of fun. Start with your favorite Halloween theme base, whether it is rice, black beans, toilet paper or wormy spaghetti. Then, add in any of the extras listed throughout this post! Beans and cauldrons and spiders and bats make a black themed bin. Witch hats, mini pumpkin buckets, glow sticks, googly eyes, and rice is well rounded fun.
Have fun with witch ever Halloween sensory bin idea you choose! Surely, it will be a boo-tiful time!