Fall Sensory Soup: An Outdoor Activity – Busy Toddler

Fall Sensory Soup: An Outdoor Activity - Busy Toddler


This isn’t the warm and cozy kind of fall soup recipe: this is fall soup as in the incredibly fun sensory activity for kids. With just some fall treasures from nature, this simple water-based sensory bin becomes something magical. It may not look like much to adults, but kids see the play and possibilities in this fall sensory soup.

Four kids sit around a storage container filled with white water and fall items (like leaves). They are creating fall "soup" in their play.

What is fall sensory soup?

First of all, my apologize for the name “sensory soup.” I did not invent this term. I’m one in a long line of bloggers who has kept this term going, using it to describe water-based sensory play.

Sensory soup sounds a little snappier than water-based sensory play.

But I get where it can be confusing especially with tomato soup and chili recipes floating around this time of year.

This isn’t the kind of soup that brings joy to adults but it is the kind that brings joy to kids. It may look a little messy and chaotic to the adult eye, but remember: this is a group of people who can see endless possibilities from a cardboard box.

A sensory bin of white water and leaves? It’s almost too easy for them to find their play here.

RELATED: Looking for more fun fall ideas. for kids? Try this new post of 25+ fall activities.

A storage bin is filled with white water and topped with various fall items to create a sensory soup.

Why is the water white?

Because I wanted it white.

I didn’t want a plain clear water/”broth” for this fall sensory soup. I wanted some mystery. I wanted the colors to pop. I wanted a little something extra.

So I dyed the water white with paint.

Yes, paint.

RELATED: Do you hate paint with kids? I get it. But I have ideas that can help make it a much better experience for all.

A storage bin is filled with white water and topped with various fall items to create a sensory soup.

This is an old trick I learned from Friends Art Lab to dye water and make it opaque. White is my favorite for this.

All you need to do is add a little white paint in with your water, whisk, and there you have it. This obviously doesn’t dye little hands because it’s just washable paint diluted in water.

So easy. Such an impact.

RELATED: Wondering what to do tomorrow? Check out my fall bucket list full of cheap and easy activities for toddlers to big kids.

5 hands in a fall sensory soup bin filled with white water and fall items like leaves and pine cones.


Busy Toddler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.

  • 41 quart storage bin – this is a longer bin and better when 3+ kids are playing
  • White washable paint – here’s my favorite brand
  • Plastic jars – these come in a 12 pack and I use them for so many activities
  • Plastic scoops – I got mine at the dollar store (they come in a two pack)
  • Leaves, pine cones, moss, bark

These supplies are obviously very interchangeable. Don’t get hung up on my list or way of making fall sensory soup. Recreate this activity with what you have and in a way that works for your family.

RELATED: I love when I have the supplies for an activity – makes me giddy. Here’s the small list of supplies I keep on hand.

Children's hands are visible in a fall sensory bin. There is white water in a container

Step 1 – Take a treasure walk

I love a good 2 for 1 activity and that’s exactly what fall sensory soup is.

First up: take a walk and find “fall” supplies. My kids call this “evidence of fall.” Look for leaves, pine cones, moss, and other items specific to fall in your climate.

Carry them back home with you in a bag. You’re half way to making fall sensory soup.

Step 2 – Fill a bin with water and paint

Fill a bin with water and washable paint.

Remember this is optional but the kids I had playing with this activity loved this twist. They couldn’t fully see items, were able to make interesting fall potions, and thoroughly enjoyed the opaque water.

A child pours white water into a sensory bin filled with fall nature items. One child is stirring with a whisk.

Step 3 – Add in the fall supplies

I dumped it all in at once: every single treasure from the walk.

I also tossed in clear plastic jars and scoops. The kids used a combination of scoops and their hands.

Yeah, I know this doesn’t look gorgeous anymore but I have a pretty good track record with kids of questionable-in-appearance activities being their favorite.

And this version of a fall sensory bin keeps my track record clean.

Children's hands are visible in a fall sensory bin. There is white water in a container

How the kids played with fall sensory soup

The kids playing with this soup were ages 8, 6, 5, and 2. That’s a spread of kids but it worked.


Because this is a sensory based activity which means that even a six year age gap is erased. Sensory bins, even soup ones, are equalizers. They balance kids out.

If you need to get everyone playing, build a sensory bin like this one. It’s a beautiful thing watching a multi-age group of kids work cohesively.

Here are some things they did with the bin:

  • Sorted types of leaves
  • Noticed differences in leaf patterns and shapes
  • Created “potions”
  • Tried to filter the water
  • Grouped things by color
A child tips a plastic jar showing the inside is filled with moss, leaves, and pine cones.

How long did the kids play?

This was an interesting looking bin but the kids had a blast.

In fact, 3 more kids came to play with it, so it was on and off play for about 2 hours. Someone was always back at the bin making soup.

The next day, kids went on a second walk to pick up more moss for the bin – they basically brought the bin back to life for another day of play all on their own.

Kids love making sensory soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the paint stain their hands?

This is washable paint that is diluted with about 50 times more water than paint. It does not stain little hands or the storage containers. It also hasn’t stained our pavers. You’ll have to make the right choice for your family based on this information.

What age is a fall sensory bin for?

Any age – as long as the child is out of the “taste testing nature” phase, this is a great option.

How do you clean the storage bin?

If you rinse it ASAP, it’s fine. If you leave it in the summer sun for weeks like I did once, it might look like the paint has stained the storage bin – but it hasn’t. A little dish soap and a magic eraser fixed it!

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 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.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *