Four Fall-Themed Play-Based Sensory Learning Activities

This post is written by guest contributor Larissa from @kindnesscastle. She's sharing four fall-themed play-based sensory learning activities that your child can do with Smiling Tree Toys' wooden Uppercase Alphabet Letters and 10-Piece Numbers Set.

In our family, fall means apple picking, pumpkin patches, and a renewed sense of focus on learning. I find that the best learning happens through play. It allows both of my children to engage at their own level and they’re usually having so much fun that they don’t even realize that they’re learning.

Play is truly the work of the child.

Sensory play is always a favorite in our house and I love turning these play moments into learning experiences.  

Sensory play is any kind of play that invites children to engage in play with their senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell, or taste. We often use kinetic sand, play dough, or pantry ingredients like rice or beans to create sensory play experiences. Children can grow and build skills in all developmental areas through sensory play – and many children find it fun and engaging.

We’ve had so much fun this fall incorporating our Uppercase Alphabet Letters and 10-Piece Number Set our sensory play. The wood letters and numerals allow the children to engage in their learning using all of their senses, and we have been using them in many of our autumn-themed activities this season. The children learn so quickly when their indoor play mimics the things they are seeing outdoors, and it is fun to incorporate favorite fall symbols into their play.

Four Fall-Themed Play-Based Sensory Learning Activities

Fall-Themed Play Based Learning Activities Smiling Tree Toys

Alphabet Letters and Kinetic Sand

When introducing a new learning resource, try keeping the initial play activity open-ended. This kind of exploration will allow children to become excited about the new materials and improve their focus in more directed activities in the future.  Try pairing new materials with familiar favorite toys – for our family, that’s often kinetic sand. Smiling Tree's wooden uppercase alphabet letters are great for stamping in the sand. Older children might also discover that they can put the letters together to make words.

fall-themed play based learning activities smiling tree toys

Counting Acorns

Acorns are one of our favorite autumn treasures. To create a fun counting activity, try adding real or toys acorns to a sensory bin or tray.  Adding our 10-Piece Number Set and a tens frame can turn this sensory play into a fun counting activity.

If you don’t have a tens frame, you can draw one or cut one out from an old egg carton. Try handing your child a number and having him or her count out that many acorns into the tens frame.

Fall Themed Play Based Learning Activities Smiling Tree Toys

Autumn Alphabet Match

To create a fun matching activity, fill your sensory bin with beans or rice, and then add some favorite autumn finds.  We used a pinecone, mushrooms, a toy pumpkin, and more!  Then add your Uppercase Alphabet Letters and encourage your children to match each item to the letter corresponding to the starting sound (for example, matching pumpkin to P).

Fall Themed Play Based Learning Activities Smiling Tree Toys Sensory Play

Apple Tree Math Activity

Our family loves picking apples in the autumn. To make a fun apple math activity, use play dough to shape an apple tree. Add some dried beans or chickpeas to represent apples (we used chickpeas that were painted red).

There are so many fun ways to play with this!

To practice counting, give your child a wooden number and have him or her put that many apples on the tree. For children who are ready for subtraction, try giving them a larger number and have them put that many apples in the tree.

Then you can hand them a smaller number and have them pick that many apples and see how many are left.

There are so many fun ways to learn through play with Smiling Trees' Uppercase Alphabet and 10-Piece Numbers!

Check out Smiling Tree Toys' entire educational collection today!


Larissa is a former early childhood educator and current stay at home mom to two boys. She has a Master’s Degree in Applied Developmental Psychology with a specialization in Early Childhood. She taught ages two through five before staying at home with her own children. Connect with her on Instagram at @kindnesscastle for more hands-on play ideas.

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