Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch Sensory Bin

A fun fall sensory bin idea that is great fine motor practice for toddlers and preschool aged kids.

When I started creating our fall preschool unit, I knew I wanted to include a field trip to the apple orchard.  I'm usually a field trip as a culminating activity type girl but when I looked at the weather forecast, I decided to go to the orchard first as it looked like it was going to get cold and rainy for awhile here in Michigan.  Last year, we picked apples on the weekend and it was CUH-RAZY.  It was so busy that we didn't even wait for the wagon ride and just picked the apples that were close by.  This time I took the girls on a weekday so it was pretty empty except for a few school field trips.
 They had so much fun and the weather was perfect!  I loved that it was something they both could do since the apples were so low to the ground.  We had to talk about picking "good" apples and not picking them off the ground but they both did a great job.

 After their excitement at the orchard, I decided to make them an apple orchard/pumpkin patch sensory bin.  I used three different kinds of dried beans plus popcorn kernels.
 I spread those out (knowing they would get mixed as soon as the girls got their hands on it).  Then I added pumpkins (candy ones as the girls quickly figured out) and some apples.  The apples were wooden beads that I found at Michael's.  I also found felt leave buttons at Michael's that I threw in there.

 I twisted some pipe cleaners (cut in half) together to make trees that they could thread the beads and the leaves on.
 Then I let them have at it.  The girls had a lot of fun with it.  M wanted to take everything out and put it all over the floor.  I left the room and came back to find her licking the pumpkins and then big sister saw this and tried it.  So I had to pull out a few sticky pumpkins.
I plan to keep using this sensory bin throughout our unit and putting letter and number cards in the bin to practice identifying and matching.