Notice how your little ones love to touch, feel, poke, prod and bounce? What’s that all about?
It’s sensory input and youngsters love to explore all the textures and movement around them! It’s why so many baby and toddler toys consist of different bumps and grooves and gets them to shake and groove!
When you see your tot rub their hands across a surface or push their fingers into something squishy or hop around that’s sensory play. This type of play is great for things like brain development and increasing gross and fine motor skills! Sensory play also helps kids regulate their bodies, especially when they need to calm down.
Build your little ones brain and make play-time fun with these easy to make and play sensory activities!
Sensory Play Ideas For The Youngest Kids
These sensory friendly activities have safety in mind, ie. no small parts, and are perfect the littlest of hands. Dig in with these ideas!
What Is It Sensory Guessing Game
Make this sensory play idea a mystery to be solved toddler style! Gather up some items from around the house and different containers. Sensory things to use can include:
- Stuffed animals
- Small soft blanket
- Texture books
- Soles on shoes
- Squishy balls
Place items in the box and help your kiddo reach inside to feel without looking. See if they can guess what the object is. To help them along, ask what they feel or label the texture (like smooth, soft, squishy, rough).
Blanket Burrito or Pizza
This activity is perfect for those who love to snuggle in with blankets. For this activity, lay out a blanket out on the floor along with some pillows. Have your child lay in the middle of the blanket. Take their food order like cheese, meat, or veggies. Then squish a pillow on them for each ingredient.
Next, wrap your child up with the pillow in the blanket and let the burrito or pizza bake. Apply deep pressure up and down them as they bake. Then when it’s all ready pretend to eat up the delicious treat with big hugs and squeezes while still wrapped up in the blanket.
This activity is perfect to do when the energy is high and you need your kids to settle down. Older children love this activity too.
Marshmallow Crawl or Hike
Burn off energy with this fun idea which is great for gross motor development. Toss pillows around on the floor. They can be spaced apart or together. Tell your toddler that pillows are marshmallows and everything is ooey and gooey. Then get on your hands and knees and pretend to go through the sticky mess by crawling and rolling through the pillows.
You can also pretend that the floor is hot chocolate and you can only stay on the marshmallows to get around. Then hop from one pillow to the next without touching the floor.
Sensory Play Ideas For Either Young Or Older Kids
Depending on how you set up these next sensory activities these easily work for kids of all ages. It is recommended you closely supervise for kiddos 3 and under and be mindful of the supplies you choose for younger kids. Smaller parts are not needed if used with little toddlers.
Homemade Sensory Bin
Different textures are great for exploring and getting curious. Sensory bins are a good outlet for that. They also help kids calm down or gain focus.
For this activity, all you need is a plastic bin and sensory friendly objects. Put the stuff in the bin and you’re all set! Here are things you can use for the homemade sensory bin:
- Uncooked rice
- Uncooked pasta or noodles
- Shredded paper
- Scraps of cloth
- Cotton balls
Add some plastic cups, bowls, tongs, and spoons for your child to scoop and pour. Or turn it into a little pretend play with construction vehicles or animals. The big rigs can dig and doze. Animals can hide and pounce.
Do you have a child that loves squishy things? Shaving cream is perfect for that. For this activity, all you need is a cookie sheet, plastic mat or even a window and non-gel shaving cream!
Simply squirt out some shave cream on the tray and you’re all set!
Build brain power and fine motor skills by writing numbers, letters, or drawing pictures with fingers. Turn it into a car or animal wash by letting the toys run through the shaving cream. Scrub with toothbrushes. Rinse off in a bowl of water.
Sensory Play Ideas For Bigger Kids
These next activities are better for kids that are 3 and up.
Did you know building strong cheek muscles helps kids form words or build their ability to say difficult sounds? Blowing bubbles is a simple yet excellent way for them to do just that. Put a new spin on blowing bubbles by making bubble monsters! For this activity, all you need is:
- Sock or fleece fabric scrap
- Clear plastic tube or big straw
- Sudsy dish soap water.
Simply put the sock or fabric over the end of the tube/straw. You can use a rubber band to keep the cloth from slipping off the tube. Then dip it into the sudsy water. Blow into the other end of the tube and watch the bubble monster form! Blowing bubbles through the tube requires more effort and helps the mouth muscles get stronger.
Box Reading Cubby
Hanging out in small spaces is a form of sensory play. Sometimes kids just need a quiet place to shut out the world. Give kids that small space by creating a cozy reading nook!
Have a large box from Amazon or a tent? Turn it into a cozy reading cubby! If using a box let your child decorate the outside however they wish with markers or stickers. Cut out windows or simply leave one end open.
Then add cozy blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and books. Your child has a quiet spot to read, rest or take a break.
Let your kids get in touch with their inner ninja that lets them use their agility skills to slink or sliter their way through a maze. For this activity you will need:
- Some type of string
- Tape, like masking or painters tape
- A narrow space like a hallway
Create a maze by tacking string to the wall in a criss cross fashion down a hallway. Make sure the space between the string is big enough for little bodies to get through. Then instruct your ninja to crawl through the openings without touching the string. The sting might zap them! You can add a fun element by making it a timed race too.
Miscellaneous Sensory Play Ideas
If you’re looking for other sensory friendly tools to have on hand here are some ideas!
- Kinetic sand
- Fidget toys
- Brain teaser puzzles
- Bubble Machine
- Indoor trampoline
- Indoor/outdoor swing
- Ball pit
Kids learn so much through play! Sensory play is a natural way to build up young brains in youngsters. Make it fun and easy with one of these sensory play ideas!