Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Sensory Tub & Playdough - Fall

It's hard to believe it's September already! It certainly doesn't feel like fall, at least not here in Bermuda. It's still very warm and humid and will be this way for another month at least. Nonetheless, I'm ready for it to be fall so I created this sensory tub and playdough to get us in the mood. :)
Here's what's inside:
:: Silk leaves - found at Michael's and Hobby Lobby. If you can't find individual leaves, look for a garland you can cut up.
:: Button leaves
:: Cinnamon sticks
:: Wooden acorns - purchased from here
:: REAL acorns - these are a wonderful gift from the lovely Mama Bee. We have no oak trees in Bermuda, a sad thing for this acorn-loving girl!
:: Pinecones
:: Small wooden bowl - purchased from here
:: Wooden apples & bucket - purchased from the same place as the wooden acorns
:: Knitted apples - see here for my post about those
:: Plastic apples
:: Two teeny tiny button apples
UPDATE: I've since added a little rake to the tub, too. After all, when the leaves fall you have to rake them together! This fun idea comes from Kara at Little Learners Lounge - thanks, Kara!

As you can see, there are a lot of apples in there! I focused on apples for this month's theme not just because it's the typical "back to school", but because September has always meant apples to me. Every September while I was growing up we'd visit the Pine Tree Apple Orchard (in Minnesota) to watch the apples roll around on the sorting belts and to eat some fresh apple pie, cinnamon ice cream and hot apple cider. I remember being SO excited about this and it made the return of the school year something I looked forward to.

I had the apple pie in mind when I created this month's playdough...
Using my favorite recipe, I kept the playdough a plain color and added in cinnamon which yielded not only a delicious aroma, but also some lovely brown swirls. I gathered some small pie tins, an apple cookie cutter, little plastic apples (in the apple container), a rolling pin and a knife for James to make his own apple pies!
He had such a blast doing this! He tore up bits and filled the pan to make a "crumb" topping and I sliced strips for him to lay criss-cross.
Yum! Wish it were real!

James is really into reading right now and is constantly trying to sound out the words he sees wherever we are. While we were playing with the dough he said to me, "A is for apple!" and asked me to make a letter 'A'. :) I love that his interest in reading comes 100% from him - I wasn't planning on him entering the world of reading for another year or so!

We read a couple of great books that fit in perfectly with our sensory fun:
The Apple Pie Tree, by Zoe Hall. A very cute story about a pair of sisters who watch their apple tree grow and change in the seasons and use the apples it produces to make a delicious apple pie. There's even a recipe in the back of the book.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, by Lois Ehlert. This story details the journey of a tree from a sapling at a nursery to a new tree in a child's backyard. There's an informative section in the back about the various parts of trees and even a section on how to plant a tree.

I'm linking this post up to Montessori Monday, The Preschool Corner and Tot Tuesday.

~Thank you for your comments!~


Elise said...

Mari-Ann your Autumn sensory tub is a feast for the senses. It is beautiful and James is going to have fun exploring this.

Making an apple pie with that scrumptious sounding playdough is such a wonderful idea. The little apples in the pie are so sweet.

Jennifer said...

I LOVE this idea!!! Guess I'll be heading out to the craft stores this weekend!

And especially the playdough! YUM! Sounds good enough to eat! LOL!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Elle Belles Bows said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE all of your ideas in this post. I think we will definitely do the apple pie with play dough this fall! Thanks so much for sharing! Kerri

Michelle said...

What fun. Can we all come over and play at your house??? I love doing a study about apples each fall with my two. We top it off or kick it off every year with a trip to go apple picking. I love seasonal markers like this that the kids can look forward to. I'm going to add the cinnamon playdough to our mix! We don't have those cute little apples but some nice red colored playdough balls should do the trick. 'Making' pies with playdough was always a favorite activity of mine. I'd make the crust and ball up blueberries or strawberring, put on the top and then slice it with great delight!!! I probably liked doing this because my Mom was always baking actual pies:-) Okay, I will stop writing here at some point...

The Activity Mom said...

I just tweeted your sensory tubs link with the title "Queen of Sensory Tubs". =)

This Fall one is fabulous too!

Förskoleburken said...

Loveley sensory tub! I can really feel the crisp fall-air!

Debbie said...

I don't even have the words to say how awesome your sensory tub and play dough are! Wow! I just bought some silk leaves a few days ago...I think I may need more. : )

Natalie Waters Seum said...

Thank you, Mari-Ann, for this post. It gives me an idea for how Henry can make "apple pies" while his classmates use ingredients he can't eat. All kinds of different applications your work has. Thank you!

Missy said...

oooh love that apple pie play dough!
actually I just love all of your ideas.
Here are our copy-cat-ish sensory tubs. My boys thank u

Sew Can Do said...

What a great idea & I appreciate that you show where to get all the items too:)

Anonymous said...

Great tub!! I love the colors! September means apple picking for us as well! I wish you could come up and pick with us this year! I love cinnamon so I would love the playdough!! Question for you.. in the past Sammy has gotten burned from cinnamon (when I put it on apple sauce) has James had any issues in handling the playdough?

Jen said...

You ARE the QUEEN OF SENSORY TUBS!!! LOL totally agree with Activity Mom. :)

I already wrote this on your FB page, but I LOOOVEE this month's sensory tub!! Fall is my favorite season and I was excited to see what you were going to do. You've outdone yourself, especially with the playdough... looks good enough to eat!

We're going to the library this afternoon and I'm hoping to find the two books you suggested, thank you!!!

Pip said...

ohhhh so bright and inviting!! can i come play? i will definatly be trying this out with my gang!!

Kara said...

Great sensory tub! And the apple pie playdough is brilliant! I'll be linking to you when we start our fall activities, if that's alright with you.

Anne said...

You might enjoy How To Bake an Apple Pie and See the World. It tells the story of travelling around the world to collect the various ingredients for the pie. Fun geography, baking, and reading all in one!

Rebecca said...

We just made our fall sensory bin last night!!And it looks very similar to yours, haha! Although you cant get really too different with 'fall' can you? I love that you added the cinnamon sticks.

Cara said...

I love all the apples and acorns in your fall sensory tub! Also, the apple pie idea for the playdough is so fun! You always put so much love and care in to your sensory tubs and playdough. Amazing!

Unknown said...

Love your tubs, but could you tell me where and how you store your items?

Montessori Beginnings said...

Such a beautiful and colorful sensory tub and I love the apple pie idea, although I know L would for sure try and eat it!

Alison said...

I've been squirrelling away (ha!) since the beginning August for our fall tub, but you've some ideas I hadn't come up with, like the cinnamon sticks! How about a fine motor activity of sticking cloves into an apple or orange?

Carrie said...

WOW!! Looks like you guys do some really fun stuff!! My three year old would be jealous!!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hello! I look forward to getting to know you!

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

We love both of those books - thanks for the reminder - I need to get to the library before all the great fall books are gone! I love your sensory tub... I have a lot of the same items and will (hopefully) make something along the same lines for Matthew soon. (I am TRYING to wait until summer is over. ;)) How big of a tub do you use? Also, we go to that same apple orchard every year. I can't wait to go this year and I will definitely be thinking of you! :)

In case this comment just isn't already long enough for you, I have a question... if you had only 2 shelves available for James' activities and needed to rotate them every so often, what would you try to put out for him on a regular basis? Are there any skill sets you'd make sure to cover? You have a whole beautiful room for James, but what I'm limited to for the time being are a couple of shelves (about 40 inches long and 12 inches deep) that will hold 6 to 7 activities without looking too over-crowded. Any thoughts?? :)

The Attached Mama said...

LOVE this! I always look forward to your sensory tub and playdough posts. :)

Ruthie said...

I love your fall sensory box and apple pie play-doh idea! I'm doing an apple theme right now too and I will definitely be using these ideas. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

AHHHHH, I LOVE the apple pie playdough!! Off the charts cute!

Jennifer Williams said...

They are so lovely.... I've linked to them through my Friday's Favourites post, up tomorrow/today, whenever you read this!!

I'd been thinking of getting apple scent to add to playdough.... I love the idea of the pie dish though!!

jen x

Counting Coconuts said...

You asked a great question and I’m flattered you’re trusting my opinion! I’m more than happy to give it to you, but keep in mind I’m answering from a Montessori perspective. Ok, so if I only had 6 or 7 trays to work with I’d first take into account what interests M and make sure to keep that in mind when preparing activities. If you’re only going to change the trays every, say, 2-3 weeks, you’ll want to be sure to put out things he definitely enjoys. His age and current abilities is also a factor – some things may be too easy or too hard for him, so you’ll want to consider that as well. In Montessori, Practical Life plays a big role in the development of a three year old. All that said, if it were James, who is 3 years and 5 months old, I’d be sure to put out a few practical life activities focusing on different skills sets (care of the person, care of the environment and preliminary activities), a language activity, a math activity and something sensorial related. For example:

1. Practical Life (care of the person): buttoning, zippering, lacing. Montessori created dressing frames (one for each way of fastening), but you could easily put together a basket of things from around the house that have each of these things: buttons, snaps, zippers, ties, buckles, bows, hook and eye and safety pins. I keep meaning to blog about this!
2. Practical Life (care of the environment): setting a table, flower arranging, washing a window, or sweeping grains.
3. Practical Life (preliminary): spooning, pouring, folding washcloths or cutting strips of paper.
4. Language: an alphabet box is a fantastic learning tool - you could pull out just a few of the drawers and put them on a tray. I posted about various “games” you can play with the alphabet box. James knows letter sounds very well, but still enjoys the alphabet box immensely and works with it often. If M is beyond that I’d recommend moving on to the sandpaper letters. Or if you don’t want to go the Montessori route in this area, you can just put out one of your fabulous printable activities!
5. Mathematics: again, you could put out one of your printables, or you can create math “games” like my Counting Coconuts game (see my beach theme post), or you could print out a bunch of number cards and use fun counters for him to practice quantifying with.
6. Sensorial: sorting activities, a sensory tub, playdough, sound boxes or any activity pertaining to colors or shapes.
7. Wild card: chose another activity from any of the above categories.

So that’s my two cents. :) I hope it helped!


The girl who painted trees said...

My kids are allergic to cinnamon, but this would be a great activity even without it. I find it interesting though that Bear just isn't interested in the sensory bins anymore. How does James play with his? Bear might look through it the first day and then not again. I wish I had these great ideas for her when she was 18 to 24 months and was into these types of bins. Her brother still puts everything in his mouth so I don't think he'll be ready for the bins until he is past 2.

Can't wait to make a pretend apple pie tomorrow with Bear. Thanks again for great ideas!

Deb Chitwood said...

You did it again, Mari-Ann! AWESOME sensory tub and related activities! And I LOVE the play dough basket and apple pie activity!

Susan said...

Hi Mari-Ann ~ Your sensory tub is awesome (as usual!) Can you believe this is your 12th month posting sensory tubs!?! 1 year! I still remembered your halloween tub from last year when I was prepping our 2010/2011 plan. We didn't get to do it then, but we will this year.

We're also kicking off the school year with an apples theme. Thanks for sharing your great ideas ~ especially the play dough suggestions.

Also, a long overdue Congrats on your Certification! That is an amazing accomplishment. I can't wait to hear more about your next plans.

Goat Gal said...

Fantastic sensory tub! I am so inspired to do a leaves and apples unit study!
Great Job!

Kara said...

Thanks so much for mentioning my blog- you rock!

RedTedArt said...

Oh my, you are sensory tub queen!! I am only half way through collecting things for our first tub!! And you have already made another. Red Leaf Yellow Leaf sounds brilliant. I was looking for a good leaf book recently and looks to fit the bill!!!

Thank you!

BTW in addition to the monthly Get Crafty Featue, Ialso have a Kids Get Crafty link up weekly.. ahem... do take part! Here is this week's link!

Thank you!


Eddie said...

Mari-Ann: I love love love the playdough idea! I have put a post up on my blog of fall ideas that I intend to use with my preschool sidekick and older child, and I linked back to you for this fantastic, simple, idea! Thanks so much.

Unknown said...

Dear Mari-Ann I really like your your sensory tub ideas. We also collected the leaves from the trees. Please check my web site. it is in turkish but pictures can explain what we did. I gave a link to your activity. With regards nilay

Unknown said...
I forgot to give the link
with love nilay

XYZZ said...

Ok, so I've been the "fall grinch" around here because I'm absolutely refusing to relinquish summer till Sept. 23.

However, I'll make an exception for your sensory bin and play dough activity and tell you that they're both wonderful!!! Thanks for linking up to Montessori Monday. ;)

Jenn @ Delicious Ambiguity said...

Love these ideas. I've never seen the apple pie playdough done before and will definitely give it a try. I"m featuring you today on Tot Tuesdays:

Have a great week!

Aimee Larsen said...

Cute! I'll be linking up over at for National Playdough Day! Stop by and visit.

twolittleseeds said...

You inspired me to make one. Thanks !!


Joyfulmama said...

Hi Mari-Ann!

We are celebrating Play Dough Day over at Joyful Mama's PLace today, and I just wanted to let you know that I linked back here, and to a few of your other play dough ideas. Thanks so much for the inspiration! You can view the post at

Deb Chitwood said...

I’m back! I linked to your wonderful post at

2 Pequeños Traviesos said...

HA! I just bought some things to make an Autumn sensory box AND I just had a feeling you had something similiar. I was planning to make some of your pumkins but apples look sooo cute. My biggest wish about my sensory box is to teach my boys what Autumn really looks like. Oh, I just LOVE all your crafty ideas! You might don't want to admit it but you are really good at this. Your my inspiration. I always come to your blog whenever I need some crafty ideas.
Hugs to you my friend.
I wanted more of a Seasonal tray but knowing my boys and their wildness the tray might end up all over the place :0

Jen said...

Love your sensory tub ideas- they've gotten me changing mine out more in my kindergarten class!


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