Sensory play is a great way to explore the five senses in early childhood. This is beneficial for not just babies, but also elementary-aged children. The freedom to explore, create, problem-solve, hypothesize, experiment, and more is great for learning.
Setting up sensory play does not have to be extravagant. Below you will find six easy sensory play activities with a breakdown of what items you will need and step-by-step instructions.
Sensory Play Activities for Toddlers That Are Super Easy to Do At Home
Bubble Bath Slime
This is the easiest slime and I love that it doesn’t include glue!
- 2 Tablespoons Bubble Bath (we used our Tubby Todd)
- Liquid Watercolor or food coloring (optional)
- 1/2 Cup of corn starch
- 2 Tablespoons of water
- Large Bowl
- In a large bowl combine cornstarch and water
- Add in liquid watercolor (optional) and continue mixing
- Add bubble bath and continue mixing until it no longer sticks to your hands or the bowl
If you find the slime is still sticky, you can add a touch more corn starch.
Homemade potions are really popular in our home. Collecting items on a nature walk is always a great start to potion mixing. For this potion specifically, we incorporated heart leaf confetti made using our hole punch. This confetti allowed for extra fine motor skill practice. We also added a special fizzing element!
- Large bin of water
- Scoops and bowls
- Nature treasures
- Biodegradable glitter *
- 2 Cups Baking Soda
- 2 Cups Vinegar
- Liquid watercolor
- Hole Punch
*Did you know traditional glitter never breaks down and is harmful to ocean life?
- Collect treasures on a walk or in your yard
- Use a hole punch to create confetti (Save your leaves to glue onto paper and make other fun creations!)
- Fill a large bin with water
- Incorporate various items to mix into the potion ( we used pine, flower petals, biodegradable glitter, and liquid watercolor)
- Pour in baking soda
- Pour in vinegar to see a fun fizzing experiment
- Scoop, pour and mix!
This is a great activity for toddlers and one that can be reused multiple times! I store our dried sensory bin fillers in airtight containers to keep them fresh and so they are easy to access. For this activity, we used lentils and kidney beans but another great filler is dyed rice. My favorite vinegar free dyed rice recipe can be found here.
- Green Lentils
- Kidney Beans
- Flat Glass Marbles
- Farm Animals
- Scoops and Bowls
- Arrange green lentils as the ground
- Flat marbles for water
- Kidney beans as mud
- Let your little one take over from there
Exploring warm versus cold is always exciting and my kids could scoop water for so long. For another frozen activity, check out this Nature Inspire Soup.
- Ice Cube Tray
- Acrylic Gems*
- Warm water
- Scoops and bowls
*You could also reuse water beads that are near the end of their use in place of the gems.
- Freeze gems in an ice cube tray
- Add a bin of warm water
- Let your children explore what happens when ice enters warm water
Playdough trays are popular for us and I love that playdough is so beneficial for building hand dexterity for children. We love making our play dough at home and a great recipe to try is this Naturally dyed playdough recipe.
- A Box to use for a treasure chest
- Acrylic gems
This is a great independent play activity. I set the items up and let them explore as they wished. We added little eye patches that we cut from black construction paper and used the elastic from disposable face masks. The kids enjoyed molding the playdough and hiding their treasures inside!
Don’t Be Afraid of Sensory Play
There can be hesitation about messy play but there are so many benefits. If you are on the fence about messy play, another great article to check out is 6 Reasons to Let Kids Get Dirty. Additionally, a great article specifically focusing on sensory activities for babies to check out is, 25 Fun Activities To Do With A 6-12 Month Old.