Tree -Theme Sensory Bins

Explore Trees with Ages 2-4

Choose an activity below to explore trees with the toddlers in your care

Provide an opportunity for children to develop their senses, hand-eye-coordination, and brain power with this easy and free activity!

Prep It

Gather a collection of tree items. You can do this yourself, or you can have a nice outing with the children in search of the materials! This could be a great opportunity to play the Outdoor Fun Activity too.

Below are some suggestions:

  • Leaves of different shapes, colors, and sizes
  • Pine needles
  • Pine cones
  • Flowers
  • “Helicopters” or “whirligigs”
  • Moss
  • Twigs and sticks
  • Pieces of bark
  • Vines

Play It

Try one or all of the activities below! If you try all three, text us which one was your favorite 😀

In a large bowl or tub, place handfuls of leaves. Within, bury a pine twig.
Let the children explore the bowl, and when they find the pine needles, excitedly exclaim, “Wow, you found pine needles!”

While playing, ask questions like:
“How do the leaves feel? Are they crunchy and soft?”
“What do the pine needles feel like? Are they hard?”
“Can you find something big in your bowl? Can you find something small?”
“Can you find something green in your bowl? Can you find something long?”

Make it easier by adding a few more pine twigs.

Alternatively, increase the challenge by only adding one, very small pine twig, or even just singular pine needles!

We recommend the needles of the White Pine because they are long, soft, and safe for little hands to explore.

You can play this activity many ways by hiding different types of items in bowls of leaves. Try pieces of bark, moss, flowers, and twigs.

Extend “Needle in the Leaf Stack” with this activity, or play it all by itself!

In a large bowl or tub, place handfuls of leaves. Within, bury a collection of two different items. For example, place three pine cones and three twigs within the bowl of leaves.

As children find the hidden items, they should pull them out and place similar items together (all the pine cones in one pile and all the twigs in another pile). Celebrate when children find items and when they group them together!

A great way to practice hand-eye coordination with this activity is to give children tools to grab or scoop with, such as tongs, mixing spoons, or spatulas.

After collecting many different items, simply spread them out across the floor, a table, baking sheets, or different bowls.

Let the children touch, hold, move, and experience all the items while you sit close by to narrate. When they hold something, make comments or ask questions about it- talk about names, length, width, size, color, shape, texture, number, and patterns. Below are some examples:

“Look, you found some green moss! Is it soft or hard?”
“That is one looong twig! Can you find a short one too?”
“Aww, what a tiny leaf. How many of those tiny leaves can you put on top of this big leaf?”
“Can you find a leaf with polka-dots on it? Look, I found one with stripes!”

“Which flower is your favorite? What do you like about it? I like this one because it has 5 petals and it’s pink, and I think it smells nice.”

We love seeing the creative leaf-themed sorts you lead!

Send pictures to:

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