In The Middle of Fall Sensory & Snack Story Time
With autumn quickly creeping in, the boys and I have been having fun reading fall stories together. I’ve been trying to give #thelittleone some extra sensory input lately, since we’re noticing a lot of issues with things like bath, settling down at bedtime, etc. My husband and I hoped that some more active sensory learning would tire him out as well as help him learn to soothe himself a bit better. When I picked up In The Middle Of Fall during a bookstore run lately, I knew it was the perfect choice to inspire a fall sensory and snack story time. Read on to see what activities I paired with it, and the great new table that makes our sensory & snack story times so successful.
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Reading In the Middle of Fall
I hit up the bookstore recently, and In The Middle of Fall called to me from a central display. The high contrast blue and orange cover caught my eye immediately. When I saw it was written by Kevin Henkes (a long time favorite at this house!) I knew it was a done deal. In The Middle of Fall did not disappoint. Henkes’ text is simple and sparse, but filled with beautiful moments like ‘…the apples are like ornaments.’ Laura Dronzek’s illustrations fill the book with bright, painterly illustrations. The images easily evoke the feeling of movement as the leaves fall and the wind blows. It’s easy for children to be drawn into the autumn world within the book. After reading In The Middle of Fall, I knew it was the perfect choice to inspire a fall story time.
STORY INSPIRED Fall Sensory & Snack
- Fall leaves.
- Real or artificial leaves work equally well. I grabbed our artificial leaves at our local dollar store because our real leaves are still clinging to the trees right now.
- Again, real or artificial acorns will both work. Our yard is covered in acorns, so we used a mixture of real and artificial ones. The artificial ones are plastic vase fillers I picked up from a craft store.
- Small bucket(s). (Optional)
- Bowls or baskets would be fine as well. When your little ones gather acorns like the squirrels do, they may need some place to sort them! Plus ‘fill and spill’ onto the tabletop always makes sensory play extra fun!
- Sensory bin or table.
- We love our Simplay 3 In & Out Activity Table for activities like this. (More on that later in the post!)
I drew inspiration for the sensory activity directly from the end papers within In The Middle of Fall. The activity comes together very quickly when the materials are assembled. #thelittleone loves getting into sensory bins, and this one definitely kept him happily occupied for quite a while. Big brother didn’t want to be left out either – as you can see!
Fill your sensory bin or table with a mixture of fall leaves and acorns. Mix things up a bit so that some of the acorns are buried. Encourage your child to dig through the leaves hunting for acorns like a squirrel does in the fall. You can add some additional learning in by counting acorns as they pull them out, organizing the acorns by size, or sorting them by color. If you’re using plastic colored acorns, talk about which ones are easier to find, and which are more camouflaged. The boys both had a great time on their fall sensory acorn hunt!
I created a special, hands on snack time treat to accompany our fall story time read aloud. Our Simplay 3 In & Out Activity Table was perfect for setting up this project. I was able to store the acorns and leaves right in the bins, and flip the lid to the table over. After quickly wiping it down, it was time to start creating a yummy treat!
- Simple sugar or shortbread cookies.
- Mine were not homemade, ’cause I know my limits!
- Food coloring in autumn shades. (Red, yellow, orange, green, etc.)
- Clean eye droppers/medicine droppers and/or pastry brushes.
- Small bowls.
- Plenty of paper towels or a cookie sheet/tray- for messy little ones to work on top of!
First I watered the food coloring down quite a bit, so it wouldn’t be too intense. I set some cookies on the tray and helped #thelittleone start decorating. After a little bit of guidance, he was able to work on it fairly independently. Kids can simply drop or paint the dilluted food coloring onto the cookies. The dye will bleed into the other colors creating a multi-colored autumn leaf look. Because there is no right or wrong outcome for the cookies, every child will be successful in decorating their snack! (Just be sure not to let kiddos go overboard with the water. A damp cookie is one thing, and will dry fairly quickly. A soggy cookie that has turned into dyed mush is a whole other story!)
IN & OUT ACTIVITY TABLE
I promised earlier to fill you guys in on the great table we used during this fall sensory story time. We’ve been breaking in our new Simplay 3 In & Out Activity Table for the past few weeks, and so far we LOVE it! We don’t have a large home, so I really needed to find a solution for sensory bins that would work in tight spaces. I also wanted to put a small table in the kitchen for #thelittleone to stand and work at while I was cooking. The In & Out Activity Table is the perfect solution since it does double duty as a sensory table and regular table.
The table is lightweight, making it easy to reconfigure. I can fill the bins with whatever sensory fun we’re getting into each week, and store the filled bins right under the table top. That keeps #thelittleone from getting into things he shouldn’t be, while making it easy to pull the activities out again when it’s convenient. It’s also super convenient to move in and out of the house – we love to get outside and take advantage of good weather as often as we can! We can switch from sensory to snack in no time, with just a little bit of rearranging the tables, and wiping the top down quickly. The Simplay 3 In & Out Activity Table could not be more convenient for our sensory play needs!