Fun Learning Sensory

Fall Sponge Painting – Easy Sensory Activity for Toddlers!

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Fall Sponge Painting craft and sensory activity for toddlers – the perfect way to introduce the concept of seasons to little ones and have fun with finger painting while getting all the benefits of messy play and sensory activities!

Keep reading for LOTS of tips for how to turn this into a learning activity for toddlers and preschoolers!

picture of sponge-painted tree - a Fall sensory activity for toddlers

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I’m all about the super quick and easy sensory activities that are fun, just slightly messy, and can be done in a few minutes or be stretched out into longer learning activities. 

See my Valentine’s Day Sponge Painting, Easy Christmas Sensory Craft, Candle Jar Decorating, and more!

This easy Fall craft painting activity for is perfect for toddlers and preschool kids, but can even be adapted for younger babies if you use taste-safe homemade finger paints made from cornstarch.

And honestly, it can be a little therapeutic for us adults to do some crafting. 🙂

Ready to get started? Let’s do it!

sponge stamped tree next to paper plate with finger paints and scissors - a Fall craft for toddlers

Fall sensory activity – sponge painting

You will need:

  • A clean kitchen sponge
  • Scissors
  • Finger paints (red, orange, yellow, brown, or use any colors you like!)
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper or canvas
  • A sharpie or other marker

In addition, you’ll need:

  • Something to hold the paint – a paper plate of some tupperware works fine!
  • Towels or baby wipes for cleanup – have these on hand in case your little one does not like getting messy or sticky! 
  • Optional: Clothes pins (use these to grab the sponges and stamp holding the clothespin if your child is not OK with touching messy wet sponges!)

If you want to take it to the next level, grab some:

  • Orange glitter, sequins, or glitter glue
  • Small leaves you’ve collected from outside (see my Outdoor Treasure Hunt!)
  • Pumpkin seeds, Fall-themed stickers, or any other Fall-themed “accessories” you might want to glue onto your masterpiece!

The rest is pretty self explanatory. 

Step 1: Cut out the sponge leaves

Use a sharpie or another marker to draw “leaves” on a sponge. Cut out the leaves. Do this part by yourself – sponges are too hard for little toddler hands to cut even if they are good with scissors for their age!

cutting out a sponge into small pieces that look like leaves for a leaf painting toddler activity

Step 2: Paint the tree trunk

I recommend pre-painting the tree trunk for your little one and letting it dry, this way your child can clearly see a tree and might actually be able to guess what he or she needs to do next!

Step 3: Get stamping!

Stamp away! Let your child get creative and don’t overcorrect them if they make a crazy tree that makes no sense. (See below for more tips for how to turn this into a learning activity!)

hand stamping leaves onto a tree trunk - a toddler leaf sensory activity

Tips for sensory aversion

Some children have a hard time with messy activities such as this one, and that’s OK! My son is one of those. Here are some tips for successful sensory play:

  • Never pressure your child, keep the activity fun and light for them
  • Making things silly is usually a safe bet for getting my son to forget that he is uncomfortable – I sing songs as we paint, and I encourage him to make silly sounds as he plops down a sponge onto the paper
  • Have baby wipes, damp paper towels or towels on hand for quick cleanup if they get overwhelmed by the mess on their hands
  • Use clothespins to create a sort of “holder” for the messy sponges, so your child doesn’t have to get his or her hands messy
  • If your child overcomes a sensory challenge, proudly display their art and remind them of how brave they were and how great they did!

Turn this simple activity into a learning opportunity

Depending on how much time (and energy) you have, you can turn this Fall sensory activity into an amazing learning opportunity for little ones of any age!

  • Introduce the idea of seasons changing. Then do a similar activity with green leaves for spring/summer (add some colorful flowers for spring to differentiate it from summer), and snow-covered leaves (blue and white paint) for the winter
  • Work on patterns, making a color patterns
  • Show your child that mixing colors creates a new color (red + yellow = orange leaves, red + green = brown for the tree trunk)
  • Count as you stamp the leaves
  • Learn shapes – cut out different shapes for the leaves and 
  • Encourage their creativity by letting them go to down decorating
  • Talk about what animals live in and around the tree (squirrels, chipmunks, owls, birds, etc.)
  • Talk about how big trees are and compare them to other things, and make it silly (Would a tree fit in a house? NOOOO! What’s bigger, a tree or a squirrel?)

Other easy sensory activities and toddler activities you will love:

Did you enjoy this activity? If you end up doing this craft, please take a picture and tag @highchairchronicles on Facebook or Instagram! I LOVE seeing your creations!

And don’t forget to save this for later on Pinterest!

pinnaple image of easy toddler fall activity - sponge painting

 

Fall Sponge Painting - Easy Sensory Activity for Toddlers!

picture of sponge-painted tree - a Fall sensory activity for toddlers

Fall Sponge Painting craft and sensory activity for toddlers - the perfect way to introduce the concept of seasons to little ones and have fun with finger painting while getting all the benefits of messy play and sensory activities!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • Finger paints
  • Paper or canvas
  • Sharpie or other marker

Tools

  • Clean kitchen sponge
  • Scissors
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper plate or a container to told the paint
  • See notes for other helpful tools and materials!

Instructions

  1. Use a sharpie or another marker to draw "leaves" on a sponge. Cut out the leaves. Cut out the sponge leaves (Do this for your child)
  2. Paint the tree trunk brown (Do this together or do this in advance)
  3. Get stamping! Dip the sponge "leaves" into paint and stamp away.
  4. Add any optional decorations, such as glitter, sequins, small leaves, stickers, etc.

Notes

  • Towels or baby wipes for cleanup – have these on hand in case your little one does not like getting messy or sticky! 
  • Optional: Clothes pins (use these to grab the sponges and stamp holding the clothespin if your child is not OK with touching messy wet sponges!)
  • Optional: Orange glitter, sequins, or glitter glue, small leaves you’ve collected from outside, pumpkin seeds, Fall-themed stickers, or any other "accessories" to glue on!

Recommended Products

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Did you make this project?

Share your photo on Instagram and tag me - I love seeing your creations! @highchairchronicles

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