Movember is a great time of year to find cranberries at reasonable prices with the holidays coming up! I have never used cranberries as a filler for a sensory bin let alone as a fine motor skills activity. There are many fun ways to use cranberries for science and STEM as well, and of course, it’s an easy supply to add to your Thanksgiving-themed hands-on learning plans!

Easy Cranberry Fine Motor Skills Play

Cranberry Fine Motor Skills Sensory play

Do you love holiday-themed activities as much as I do? This simple to setup cranberry fine motor skills activity is a perfect way to enjoy a Thanksgiving activity! Why not try a STEMS-Giving this year with your kiddos and include everyone from toddler/preschool and up in the fun? Make bread in a bag, shake up homemade butter, and more!


Please note, children should be supervised while playing with cranberries. These can easily be a choking hazard and should not be eaten!


  • Bag of fresh cranberries
  • Large bin for playing with cranberries
  • Fun fine motor tools (read more below)
  • Water (optional)

cranberry fine motor skills getting ready

I have been adding these nifty egg cartons lately (wholesale bulk food warehouse). I chose to put out a tea bag strainer/infuser thing (??), simple tongs, a mini ladle, tweezers (yes they look like alligators), a skewer, and a flat-ish spoon. Each one presented a different fine motor skills challenge.


cranberry fine motor skills exploring cranberries

Our very first step was to dump the bags into the bin. As often as possible, I try to have him help with the setup, also has very good skills! He wanted to know immediately what the activity was today, but I tried to gently push him to explore the feeling of the cranberries.


Liam was asked to use each tool to fill a row in the egg tray. Again, like previous activities, I tried to make it so he could move on to a new task pretty quickly and try something new to keep his interest. He had to use each one 5 times to complete each row. Plenty of fine motor skills practice without becoming boring! Some were more difficult than others, but he seemed to enjoy each one. Probably helps that I had also popped some popcorn to eat as we were playing, haha!

cranberry fine motor skills tea strainer practiceFirst up was this contraption used for tea. Seriously I don’t even know why we have it, but if you squeeze it together the front opens. I did a poor job demonstrating it (kept losing my grip) and thought uh-oh as I handed it over to him. He got it pretty good and filled his row!

cranberry fine motor skills tongsNext up, clear tongs. Liam is awfully familiar with these. We are really working on changing his whole hand, fist grasp of everything to improve his fine motor skills. Another successful row in the egg carton filled.

cranberry fine motor skills mini ladle scoopingThird, the mini ladle from some pretend-play kitchen set we no longer have! I kept this for our sensory bins and it also makes a great tool for fine motor skills work too. He does have to slow down and work a little to pick up just one each time, but he gets it and completes the third row.

cranberry fine motor skills skewer stickingLooking through our large, messy miscellaneous kitchen drawer, I saw these skewers and thought one might work for poking the cranberry to pick it up. Definitely, much more precise work and fine motor skills are involved.

This one took him longer than the rest, but he accomplished it and was happy to be done. I can see how he may not have wanted to stick with the whole activity if he had used just one kitchen tool. (Skewers can be a little sharp so use your best judgment and supervise your children accordingly)

cranberry fine motor skills spoon scoopLast row to fill and a mini spoon with a sort of flat head. If he was to quick, the berry would roll right off! He had to concentrate as he worked to pick up one and carefully move it over to the correct space.


Fine motor practice is everywhere…including opening and closing containers. Plus, you’re throwing in practical life skills as well. Practical life skills simply take practice to master so why not make it fun?

cranberry fine motor skills filling containers lids

After another popcorn break (several already), he was still eager to see what else I had set out for him to use. These mini containers had easy enough lids so I directed him to open the containers, fill them, close the containers and neatly stack them. This task not only involved fine motor skills and listening to directions but also problem-solving!

After he filled the container too full, I waited quietly to see what would happen as he tried to push the lid onto it. At first, he seemed a bit frustrated but quickly got he had too many berries in the container. The rest went smoothly and it was time for another popcorn break!


cranberry fine motor skills play dough play

As long as he was interested (popcorn bowl refilled) I was supplying materials for play. I got out our big bag of play dough (6 weeks and still great). He filled the container with cranberries and helped me make two big balls. While he was eating, I started pushing cranberries into the play dough.

Try any of our homemade playdough recipes here! Our super soft play dough is also super quick.

Soon enough, he joined in and was filling his ball of play dough too. I encouraged him to use his pincer grasp as much as possible since he tends to palm things (even small cranberries, not effective). Playdough is always awesome to add to a fine motor activity!


Want to mix up the cranberry play for a second or third day? Go ahead and add water. Check out how we enjoyed cranberries and water here in a sensory bin.


There are so many great ways to explore cranberries including cool science and STEM ideas as well.


  1. Cranberries sounds like great sensory play! And for fine motor skills, they’re not so small as to be frustrating, but just small enough to be challenging. Good thinking!

  2. Really loving this, what a great idea for a thanksgiving themed sensory play! Have you tried bouncing them? I watched a show once about cranberries, and I seem to remember that that is how they sort out the bad ones…they don’t bounce! Ha! Not that we want to teach anyone to throw food! Yikes!

  3. Hi,
    I am following you from Sun Scholars. I am happy to see that we can do more than eat cranberries since I have an allergy to them. 🙂
    Great ideas – I especially like the use of unusual tools to dispense the cranberry into the egg carton.
    Janis Author of Tadeo Turtle

  4. We love to snack while playing, too! ; ). We’ve played with cranberries, too as a go along for book, “Cranberry Thanksgiving.” Love all the utensils you provided him to use.

  5. This looks great! I added cranberries as a secondary filler to our Thanksgiving sensory bin. After seeing your post, i just might have Pook separate them from the rice and create a mini-sensory bin with just the cranberries. Thanks for the idea!

  6. Glad you liked it and found some ideas. Have the kids use tongs to search for the cranberries in the rice!

  7. I have seen that book and thought about it but I was to late! I think popcorn while we work/play is a keeper!

  8. Wow, I should have tried it. Most went into sauce. He did not like touching the smooshed ones!

  9. What a great thing for a sensory bin!! I’m going to add a link/feature to this in my cranberry post I am doing this weekend. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

  10. I have used cranberries in my sensory tub before and plan on doing it again this week. I fill the tub with a couple inches of water and we use slotted spoons and colanders. Also, the kids have fun popping the cranberries. They pop when you squeeze them! (another good fine motor activity)

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