Fall-Themed Sensory Activities

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

The sights, sounds and smells of fall are distinctive. In this lesson, you will find fall-themed activities to engage your sensory-seeking students, either in groups or individually.

Sight, Sounds and Smells of Fall

When you think of fall, what comes to mind? Crisp leaves of red, orange, brown and yellow? Fresh air with a hint of a chill in it? Fires crackling in the fireplace and pumpkin pies baking in the oven?

The classic sights, sounds and smells of fall can be used as the foundation for sensory activities in your classroom. By appealing to your students' senses, you'll not only engage more of their attention but also help them to more fully process the information being presented.

Throughout the following activities, remember to focus on the main colors of fall: red, orange (or burnt orange), brown and yellow.

Whole Class Activities

These activities are designed for the class as a whole, working together or in teams.

Sounds, Smells and Relaxation

Sometimes, students with sensory-processing concerns really benefit from instruction in relaxation strategies. This activity allows your students to enjoy the sounds and smells of autumn as they take a moment to consciously relax themselves.

Materials

  • Audio/video capability
  • Video of fire in a fireplace
  • Essential oil diffuser
  • Essential oil

Preparation

  • Prepare an oil diffuser with a typical fall smell, such as pumpkin spice, nutmeg or cinnamon.
  • Clear an area in your room large enough for all of your students to lie down.

Steps

  • Invite your students to lie down or put their heads down on their desks.
  • Play the video of a fire crackling in a fireplace and turn on the diffuser.
  • Ask students to close their eyes and focus on identifying the sounds of the crackling fire and the smells in the air.
  • Allow 5-10 minutes for this relaxation activity.

Fall Cornucopia

This activity can be conducted as a scavenger hunt in which the teams compete to finish first, or as a relaxed hide-and-seek game, during which students casually look for and find the items to fill their cones. You could also allow each student to make his or her own cornucopia to fill and take home.

Materials

  • Imitation fall leaves of many colors
  • Dried mini-Indian corn, nuts and pinecones
  • Small pumpkin cupcake toppers or erasers (enough so that each student will have at least two)
  • Card stock paper in fall colors (one per student)
  • Glue sticks or scotch tape (enough for each group)

Preparation

  • Hide the items around your classroom.
  • List the number and type of each item students will need to find.

Steps

  • Divide your class into groups of three or four.
  • Give each group a piece of card stock paper, and ask students to create a cone with their paper by rolling it at the corner and securing it with glue or tape.
  • Ask students to fill their cornucopias by finding fall items in the classroom.

Sensory Table

Materials

  • Wet/dry activity table
  • Crunchy leaves
  • Small plastic pumpkins (party favor size)
  • Dried nuts and corncobs
  • Mud (enough to half fill the wet side of your activity table)
  • Small tongs (enough for each group)

Preparation

  • Put the dry leaves on one side of the wet/dry table and the mud in the other side. (You may want to organize multiple activity tables so more of the class can join in at once.)
  • Hide the plastic items in both the leaves and mud.

Steps

  • Ask students to go to the activity tables in groups of 2-4.
  • Encourage students to find the plastic items using their hands to feel the different tactile input from the leaves and mud.
  • If you have students that do not enjoy the feel of mud, allow them to use the tongs to search for the plastic items.

Arts and Crafts Activities

These activities are designed for individual students.

Tactile Leaf

Materials

  • Large leaf templates cut from card stock paper (Aim for variety while maintaining a similar size.)
  • Swatches of textured fabrics in fall colors (silk, cotton, velvet, corduroy, leather or even sandpaper)
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors

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