Apple Washing Bin Sensory Activity – Busy Toddler

Two toddlers sit at a sensory bin holding apples. They are washing the apples with water, sponges, and soft brushes.

Create a simple apple washing bin for your toddler or preschooler with just a few household supplies. This part science, part sensory activity gives children the chance to explore the physical attributes of apples as they scrub away. The bonus: you end up with clean apples.

Related: Looking for other super easy activities for toddlers? Check out my favorite list.

Two toddlers sit at a sensory bin holding apples. They are washing the apples with water, sponges, and soft brushes.

Washing stations are a classic activity

There are just some activities that are staples.

Washing stations are the go-to activities in my house. We’ve washed dolls, dinosaurs, and toys over the years – just to name a few. There are so many more but I won’t dump them all on you.

This style of activity works well with kids: they have a task to complete and kids love a mission. If you have kids who love to work towards a goal, washing stations might be the right kind of activity for them too.

The apple washing station set up: apples in a bin, a box of cold water with brushes and sponges are next to the apples.

The supplies

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  • Storage container: I love a 28 qt bin for all our sensory style activities
  • Smaller storage container: think something shoe box sizes that will fit in the larger bin
  • Apples
  • Brushes
  • Sponges: This one is actually from this toy set
  • Wash cloth

Notes: You can also use two separate bins for this activity (like two dishpans) set side by side. One bin can be for apples while the other is filled with clean water.

Two toddlers wash apples in a sensory bin outside. One child is reaching into a bin of water to grab a brush,

How to set up an apple washing bin

This activity is a simple set up and design, but it packs a whole lot of meaning, learning, and value.

In my 28 qt storage bin, I set a bag of apples. I’d just bought these from the grocery store so none had the quintessential “one toddler bite” out of them… yet.

I also added a second bin (shoe box sized) full of clean water. This would be our “washing” area. I also made sure each sponge and brush was clean, since we planned to actually eat these apples later.

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Here’s how I explained the activity:

I didn’t set down some apples and tell my kids to get to work. Kids and activities can be a bit like asking a cat to participate in something. It must be their idea or on their terms. Hence, I really sold them on this idea!

“We NEED to wash the apples! They’re so dirty! We’ve got to get them clean, but I don’t have time. Can you do it?! Can you clean the apples?!”

A toddler scrubs an apple with a sponge.

What can kids learn by washing apples

The apple washing bin may look simple but this packs in quite the learning punch. In this activity, kids are getting up-close with apples in a way they may not have gotten to during snack time.

Holding the apple and investigating it, consider adding in some vocabulary terms to introduce to your child:

  • Sphere
  • Stem
  • Skin
  • Blossom end

At the end of the activity, cut open an apple to see the core, seeds, and flesh.

Two toddlers wash apples in a sensory bin outside. One is sitting with a sponge and apple. The other child is standing scrubbing an apple.

Books to pair with an apple activity

Consider pairing this activity with some apple-themed books. There are so many good ones to choose from.

Here are my favorite apple-themed books for toddlers and preschoolers.

  1. Apple Picking Day by Candace Ransom
  2. Apples by Gail Gibbons
  3. Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Two toddlers wash apples in a sensory bin outside. One child is reaching for an apple while the other uses a sponge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do kids try to bite all the apples?

They might – so here’s what I did to make sure my kids didn’t. We made a decision at the beginning of the activity that we would each select one apple at the end to be our eating apples. They each picked great ones.

Do your kids try to dump out the water?

Nope, and here’s why: Kids are great at understanding rules and boundaries. In the bathtub, kids know they can splash and pour water. They know they can’t do that at dinner. Set the rule at the start of the activity that dumping is a no-go during the activity…but a yes at the end.

What age is this activity for?

Remember: this stages not ages. Kids have varying likes, dislikes, interests and concentration levels – but those don’t necessarily flow on a timeline. Look at the stage your child is at and think “would they enjoy this?” That’s all you need to know.

Two toddlers wash apples in a sensory bin outside. One child is reaching for an apple.

4 other apple themed activities to check out

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 1.9 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.



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