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Using the Sensory Bin for Thanksgiving Math and Literacy

I normally use our sensory bin/table for isolated learning experiences such as a dinosaur dig or digging for letter C clams or just have it open for exploratory and sensory experiences.  But after seeing how much fun students had at the school’s hoedown digging through straw for prizes I decided to try straw in the sensory bin and find something for them to hunt.  The song “Turkey in the Straw” popped into my head and voila there was an idea – hunt for turkeys hiding in the straw!

I printed some number turkey cards and hid them in the straw. If you don’t want to use straw or hay you can shred yellow paper in a shredder to resemble hay, use corn, acorns, rice, or any other fill.

sensory bin math

I put tongs by the center for students to use to “grab” a turkey.  This helps with their fine motor skills development.  I use large tongs that are a little harder for them to squeeze for extra fine motor practice.

Thanksgiving sensory bin math

I created some coordinating math activities for students to complete once they “nabbed” a turkey. I rotate these and sometimes place several in the center and allow the students to choose which they wish to complete.

This one works on subitizing and number sense.  After the student finds a turkey in the sensory bin, they find the pumpkin that has the correct number of dots as the number on their turkey and then write the number on the line.

Thanksgiving turkey sensory bin math

This one also works on number sense.  Students hunt for a turkey in the sensory bin and then find the pumpkin that has the correct number of tally marks to match the number on their turkey and then write the number underneath.

Thanksgiving math sensory bin tally marks

For this math activity the students will practice greater than, less than.  This time they must hunt for 2 turkeys at a time.  They write the first turkey’s number on the first line and the second turkey’s number on the second line.  They compare the numbers and write either a greater than symbol in the circle or a less than symbol.

sensory bin activity Thanksgiving math

This next activity is one I felt we needed to practice – counting on from a given number.  In this activity the students hunt for a turkey and write the number from the turkey on the first line (the one with the arrow pointing to it).  Then they have to write the next 2 numbers.  They repeat the process until the page is complete.

Thanksgiving sensory bin math activity counting on

I “switch up” the sensory bin every few days by removing the number turkeys and adding turkeys with letters on them.

alphabet sensory bin activity Thanksgiving

Again, I supply large tongs for them to use to “nab” their turkey to help strengthen their fine motor skills.

This time of year the students still need practice matching uppercase and lowercase letters so that is the focus of this activity.  They hunt for a lowercase letter turkey in the sensory bin and then find the turkey feather that has the matching uppercase letter and write both the uppercase and lowercase letter.

turkey sensory bin activity uppercase lowercase letters

The next literacy activity can be done 2 different ways.  It focuses on beginning sounds, letter sounds.  I printed some turkey cards with pictures on them and placed them in the sensory bin.

Thanksgiving turkey beginning sounds sensory bin

Students hunt for a turkey in the sensory bin and find the turkey feather that has the picture’s beginning sound and color it.  They repeat the process until all turkey feathers are colored.

turkey sensory bin uppercase lowercase letters

To change it up a little bit, I place some turkey picture cards along with turkey letter cards in the sensory bin.

sensory bin phonics activity

Students hunt in the sensory bin for matching turkey cards and pin them together with a clothespin (more fine motor skills practice!).

turkey sensory bin phonics activity

So far these sensory bin activities have been a hit.  I will continue to alternate between them until Thanksgiving break.

If you would like to use these activities in your classroom I made them available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store – click here.

Thanksgiving sensory bin activities math and literacy

You may also like:

Stuff the Turkey Thanksgiving Math Center Differentiated (Counting, Addition to 10, Making 10)

Thanksgiving Turkey Literacy & Math Centers Bundle (Common Core Aligned)

 Thanksgiving Sensory Bin Math & Literacy Activities

Hi! Thanks for stopping by!

I’m Tina and I’ve taught preK and K for 20+ years. I share fun and creative ideas that spark your students’ love for learning. 

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