Sensory activities can stimulate touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and sound. They create opportunities for exploration and learning. In a group setting, sensory activities can help people bond as they share materials and ideas. Sensory activities can also have a calming effect.
At Stephen’s Place, we provide opportunities for our residents to participate in sensory and other educational activities both indoors and outdoors. In this post, you will find five awesome sensory activities that we recommend for autumn.
As the longtime friend of all autumn spices and go-to fruit for when the weather gets colder, apples can be incredibly versatile. There are over 7,500 varieties of apple in the world, 2,500 of which are from the United States. The top types of apples sold in stores in the U.S. are Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Cripps Pink, Honeycrisp, and Braeburn.
Apple tasting is a fun way to explore taste. As an activity, apple tasting can expand to encompass many senses by starting to learn before even cutting into the fruit. Discussing different types, colors, origins, and shapes is a great way to get started. You can write down descriptors like “crisp” and “juicy”, on small pieces of paper, to be used as a visual aid during tasting. Once you’ve chopped up the apples and had a taste, you could even treat yourselves to a little apple cider as well.
Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Playdough
Apple cinnamon playdough smells incredible. With the scent and the feel of the dough, this activity creates an amazing sensory experience. And, as it’s non-toxic and technically edible (but won’t taste quite as nice as it smells), you can even bring taste into the mix.
You will need:
- 1 cup salt
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons Cream of Tartar
- 1 tablespoon of apple pie spice
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 1 1/3 cup boiling water
- Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl
- Adding a little at a time, mix in the 1 1/3 cups of boiling water
- Knead the mixture with hands until it’s a smooth dough
- Cool for 10 minutes
- Once cooled, you can use different objects like leaves, textured rolling pins, cinnamon sticks, and other autumny things to make patterns in the dough
- When done, you can store the playdough in an airtight container
Fall Time Slime
Slime making is a great sensory activity for any time of the year. There are so many different possible combinations of scents, colors, and themes that it could even be used as a weekly or monthly activity. This fall time slime recipe is fun because it not only has confetti, but it also has glitter too.
Aside from just making and playing with the slime, you can also count the number of each color leaf or pull out and sort the leaves by color before mixing them back into the slime again.
Tips for containing glitter: You can substitute glitter and Elmer’s glue for premade glitter glue. If you only have glitter and Elmer’s in stock, this trick should help: place the bowl and glitter inside a cardboard box for mixing, try only to use glitter over hard surfaces, use a Swiffer duster to pick up any escapees, and have the vacuum ready to go.
You will need:
- 1 small bottle or 3/4 cup of clear Elmer’s glue or 3/4 cup of glitter glue (the latter is not as messy)
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 tablespoon contact lens solution
- 1 1/2 tablespoon gold glitter (leave out if using premade glitter glue)
- Maple leaf foil confetti
- add the whole bottle or 3/4 cup of glue to a large mixing bowl
- add 1/2 cup of warm water and stir
- In a separate bowl, mix the baking soda with the glitter (this will disperse the glitter quickly and evenly)
- Add the baking soda concoction to the glue/water combination
- Stir like crazy
- Add your maple leaf confetti and stir until mixture turns into a ball
- Knead the mixture until it is of slime consistency
- When done, you can store it in any plastic or glass container with a lid, but an airtight container is best. Store in the fridge to keep as fresher for longer.
Oil and Water Autumn Sensory Bottle
You will need:
- a Voss water bottle or a maple-leaf-shaped maple syrup bottle (without the syrup)
- water-based red food coloring
- water-based yellow food coloring
- regular yellow cooking oil
- red Orbeez
- a hot glue gun or super glue to seal the lid
- foil maple leaf confetti
- fill the bottle 1/3 of the way up with water
- add 1 drop of red water-based food coloring to the water
- add 2 drops of yellow water-based food coloring to the water
- put the lid onto the bottle and shake it to mix the color into the water
- remove the lid and add enough red Orbeez to take up another third of the bottle
- gently pour the oil into the bottle until it’s about a thumb width from the top
- add 1 tablespoon or a few good pinches of maple leaf confetti to the oil
- seal the lid onto the bottle with super glue or hot glue to stop the lid from coming off
Autumn Sensory Bin
Crispy and colorful fall leaves are great for creating tactile activities like sensory bins. You can either use artificial leaves or real leaves. We’ll be using real leaves for this sensory bin to give it an added bit of crunch.
You will need:
- a large container such as a storage bin to place all of the following items into
- a large pile of various colors and shapes of leaves (can be dry, fresh or both)
- 4 small pinecones
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks
- 6-7 small conkers (with husks removed)
- 3 cups of black and regular popcorn kernels
- as many paper cups as there are participants or just two left in the bin
About Stephen’s Place
Stephen’s Place is an independent apartment community for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, located in Vancouver, WA (7 minutes from Portland, OR).
If you have a loved one with developmental or intellectual disabilities, who is looking for a community to live in, please contact us for more information.
Stephen’s Place is a private-pay apartment community due to our state-of-the-art amenities and programs. We are a nonprofit and do not profit from our community. We are private pay because we spend more than some housing communities to ensure that our residents are comfortable and can safely live their lives with independence and dignity.