You definitely want to add this pumpkin seed sensory bin to your kindergarten and preschool pumpkin activities! It’s colorful, engaging, and you can change it up in almost endless ways to best meet the needs of your students.
Learn how to dye pumpkin seeds and then put those colorful seeds to work with tons of sensory play invitations! I think this sensory bin would be perfect during a pumpkin unit, after a trip to the pumpkin patch, or when you’re trying to use up tons of leftover pumpkin seeds after carving jack-o-lanterns.
But the pumpkin seeds sensory activity can be incorporated into your classroom at any time of the year, really! Oh, and be sure to check the bottom of this post for a free pumpkin sorting printable. It pairs well with the dyed seeds sensory table.
Pumpkin Seed Sensory Bin
Colorful pumpkin seeds are a favorite sensory, math, literacy, and art material around here. We have seriously done so much with them over the years. So I’m surprised it took me this long to share the simple sensory bin we’ve made with the pumpkin seeds!
Materials for the Colored Pumpkin Seeds Invitation
Keep in mind that we’ve done a variation on this sensory bin for years. So we’ve used all kinds of different items with it. Here are the basics, to start off with (I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post):
- Pumpkin seeds (clean, dry, and preferably unsalted)
- Liquid watercolors
- Sensory bin or sensory table
- Jars with lids or zip-top baggies
And that’s really all you need to get started with the pumpkin seed sensory bin. Here are some ideas for additional supplies that would work well with the bin:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Kid-friendly tweezers
- Handy scoopers
- Sorting trays or muffin tins
- Big scoops
- Squeezy tweezers
I tried to keep that list a bit short, but you can really toss in any of your favorite sensory play and sorting tools in! It just depends on what your students are interested in and what you want to focus on at any one time.
How to Prep the Colorful Pumpkin Seed Sensory Bin
Start off with clean and dry pumpkin seeds. It’s best if they’re unsalted, but I’ve accidentally made use of salted pumpkin seeds in the past and they worked out okay.
Then decide what colors you’d like to use in the sensory play. We went with a rainbow of colors this time, but you can make adjustments as you see fit.
Pour some pumpkin seeds into jars, containers, or zip-top baggies. Just make sure whatever you use can be closed. Then add some liquid watercolors, seal the container, and shake to disperse the coloring.
A word of warning – don’t use too much liquid watercolors! As you can see, I did just that with some of the colors in this bin. So I ended up with some washed-out colors because I used too much and let them sit a little too long in the coloring. Of course, even they didn’t turn out “just right” they were still a blast to play with!
Set the dyed pumpkin seeds out to dry on trays. Once the seeds are completely dry, put them into your preferred sensory bin. We’ve used them in big sensory bins, as well as individual sensory bins. It just depends on how many materials you have, how many students you have, and your own preferences.
Add your sensory tools and sorting trays, along with the free printable pumpkin sorting cards. Then invite the kids to come play!
Playing and Learning with the Dyed Pumpkin Seeds Sensory Activity
At heart, the pumpkin seed sensory bin is an open-ended activity. This means the children get to decided how they want to interact with the materials. This lets the kids take the lead in their play, and it also means you’ll see kids do a wide variety of things at the sensory table. And that is wonderful!
Here are some of the things you might observe as your students get into the dyed seeds sensory play:
- Scooping and pouring pumpkin seeds in (and out!) of containers
- Running their hands through the mass of seeds
- Sorting the pumpkin seeds by color
- Making “pumpkin seed soup” (have you ever noticed that a lot of soups are made at the sensory table, or is that just me?)
- Using the seeds to make patterns
- Lining up the seeds
- Counting the seeds, or how many times they’ve scooped the seeds
- Pouring the seeds through funnels and catching the seeds with their hands
- Filling containers up and listening to the sounds the seeds make
Of course, that is only a small slice of how the kids can interact with the pumpkin seed sensory bin. Your students might do something completely different. And isn’t that great?!
Here are some of the early learning skills kids practice with the bin:
- Color identification
- Sensory exploration
- Vocabulary development
- Turn taking
- Fine motor skills
- Descriptive language
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop for now. Needless to say, the pumpkin seeds sensory play is fun and educational!
Other Ideas for Your Pumpkin Seed Sensory Bin
As I mentioned, you can tweak this sensory play idea in so many ways. Here are a few suggestions:
- Add some pumpkin-themed vocabulary cards to the colorful pumpkin seeds, along with magnetic letters. Challenge the kids to find the letters they need to make each of the words.
- Do the same as above, but replace the vocabulary cards with the kids’ name cards. Have the children make their own names and their peers’ names with the letters they find.
- Place clean, empty bottles in the sensory bin along with some funnels and scoops. Then let your students fill up the bottles over and over again.
- Hide letter or number cards in with the seeds. See if your students can find all of them. Have the kids record the letters and numbers they find on paper.
- Encourage pretend play by placing tractors and small people in the pumpkin seed sensory bin, along with some small pretend (or real!) pumpkins.
- Add all kinds of pumpkin-themed items to the mix – acrylic pumpkins, real pumpkins, felt pumpkins, etc. Tell the kids they’re pumpkin farmers harvesting their crops.
- Use just a few different colors of pumpkin seeds, or leave the seeds undyed. Consider adding different materials to the bin, too.
How will YOU use the pumpkin seed sensory bin with your students?
More Pumpkin Seed Activities for Kids
Have I mentioned that we love using pumpkin seeds? If you find that you and your students do as well, here are more pumpkin seed activities to try:
- Pumpkin Seed Art (make some fall trees!)
- Decorate Pumpkins with Dyed Seeds
- Pumpkin Seed Name Activity
- Fall Pumpkin Seed Counting
- Pumpkin Seed Christmas Tree Art
- Fall Busy Bag with Pumpkin Seeds
- Pumpkin Seed Slime
I think all of these ideas would go along well with the pumpkin seed sensory bin!
Pumpkin Lesson Plans
Preschool Teacher 101 saves you a ton of time with hundreds of fully-developed, done-for-you early childhood resources. We have lesson plans, dramatic play packs, circle time songs, STEM challenges, digital games and so much more. We also have The Pack from Preschool Teacher 101, a membership site for teachers like you. Members get access to our materials (and member exclusives) at a drastic discount.
Click on the image below for our pumpkin lesson plans. They come with a weekly overview, detailed daily plans, whole group lessons, small group activities, center ideas, book suggestions, and related printables:
You can also find us on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Get the Pumpkin Sorting Cards
Don’t forget to grab your copy of the sorting cards to use with the pumpkin seed sensory bin! It’s available to members of Fun-A-Day’s (free!) email community. If you’re a part of the community, enter your email in the form below to have the download link sent to your inbox. If you’re not a member, you can join us by entering your information in the form. Then you’ll receive the sorting cards as a welcome gift!
You can find the form here if you can’t see it above.