More than 40 Sensory Play Ideas
Sensory play is one of the best ways to aid in the development of your child. A sensory table is basically a table full of materials that get children to use all five senses. The table is set up to let children learn and engage their senses by interacting with everything that is being presented to them.
Here are seven benefits of letting children play with a sensory table.
Benefit #1: It Helps Kids Develop Their Fine Motor Skills
Sensory tables demand fine motor skills as kids have to use their hands to interact with objects. They’ll play with whatever is on the table. They will handle balls, pour sand, mold clay, and grasp spoons. Playing with many different objects is enticing to children and helps them have fun.
Benefit #2: It Helps Kids Develop Their Cognitive Skills
One of the many sensory table benefits is that the tables help in developing cognitive skills. Kids will interact with the items on the table in ways that get them to count, organise, match, and label objects. It’s easy to observe how cognitively engaging it is to them when they’re given various tasks. The tasks and challenges that are often presented as games. Kids enjoy the variety of learning activities.
Benefit #3: It Helps Kids Develop Language Skills
Sensory play presents the perfect opportunity to help children develop language skills. Children learn vocabulary by attaching words to objects. The sensory table serves as a great conversation opener. Kids are asked their opinions, challenged with tasks, and allowed to express themselves. All these activities engage and develop their language skills.
Benefit #4: It Helps Kids Develop Socially and Emotionally
Kids are playing with together and engaging with each other in a positive way. They are expressing their emotions as they get feedback from the objects on the table. It’s natural for kids to express themselves as the objects engage their sense of sight, smell, sound, touch and in some cases, even taste.
Benefit #5: It Helps Kids Relax
If your child is often hyperactive or anxious, a sensory table can have a calming effect them. The objects on the tables tend to capture children’s attention and engage their minds. The kids are presented with strange objects like clay, new textures like rice, and alluring smells like popcorn. This engages and calms them. In fact, they often forget that they’re having fun learning.
Reason #6: It Helps Develop Your Child’s Creativity
The great thing about a sensory table is there are no rules on how to use objects on the table. Children are given the freedom to do whatever they want with the objects on the table. The focus is on how children use the materials on the table rather than what’s created with the objects. This makes the learning process fun. Kids get excited as they experiment with different objects, colors, textures, weights, etc.
Reason #7: Gives Kids a Sense of Balance
Young kids are excited about the world and can often find it hard to sit still. A sensory table isn’t a structured learning environment with rules. That’s why kids enjoy the process. They’re allowed to express themselves and manipulate objects in a way they see fit. Because they have the freedom to do whatever they want, it helps balance their moods and minds. This makes them more open to other types of learning, even structured ones.
Sensory Play Ideas
WHY MESSY-SENSORY PLAY IS IMPORTANT?
Messy play is important for young children, giving them endless ways to develop and learn. All types of play are essential for children’s development and early learning. Play helps children to develop and improve their gross and fine motor skills, co-ordination and concentration. Also how to work cooperatively and collaboratively, use all their senses to discover and explore their environment, and develop their imagination, creative thinking and ability to problem solve and experiment with solutions.
HOMEMADE RUBBERY GOOP RECIPE:
Rubbery Goop looks and feels like basic play dough but it is textured differently. It is smooth, soft and slightly stretchy. Moulding it in the hands is very addictive as the texture is delightful. It is so much fun to play with, you can pull the goop apart and roll it back together to form a smooth ball. You can squeeze it and it will squish through your fingers.
PRIMARY COLOURS SQUISHY BAG EXPERIMENT
Primary Colours Squishy Bag Experiment is a wonderful sensory experience for children to see how colours mix and form other colours. Children use their hands to blends and squish the different coloured paints together for form new colours.
HOW TO COLOUR RICE FOR SENSORY PLAY
How to you colour rice for sensory play? The information in this post provides a step by step guide outlining how we colour our rice for sensory play.
RICE AND ICE
Rice and Ice Sensory Activity is a fun activity that provides an opportunity to play with rhyming words, explore scientific concepts and learn about primary colour mixing with all the benefits of sensory play.
BUCKET OF COLOURFUL SPAGHETTI WORMS
A bucket filled with coloured spaghetti worms with hidden number rocks is a motivating learning experience for kids to explore numbers and their senses.
CLOUD THEME SENSORY BIN
Cloud Theme Sensory Bin is another activity that is part of our cloud series. The sensory bin is made up of cotton wool balls, gem stones and laminated clouds. The cotton wool balls represent the clouds and the blue gem stones represent rain. The aim of the sensory tub is to search and find the printable cloud letters and sort them into groups “C is for Cloud” and “R is for Rain”.
HOW O MAKE SQUISHY BAGS FOR SENSORY PLAY?
Squishy bags are perfect for sensory play without the mess. They are cheap and easy to make and your child will enjoy manipulating and playing with them.
T IS FOR TIGER TEA PARTY STORY RETELL
T is for Tiger Tea Party is a story retell activity that involves bringing the story alive through sensory play. We created a sensory tub using various items that represented the characters and objects in the story The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. We love to take a gorgeous story book and retell it in a playful and hands on way, trying to keep early literacy fun.
DIGGING FOR DINOSAUR FOSSILS
The idea of the of the Digging for Dinosaur Fossils Sensory Bin is to search through the sand to find and sort the dinosaur figurines, dinosaur fossils with lowercase letter d and uppercase letter D into the matching baskets. It is a great opportunity to expose children to the letter D, and talk about words that begin with this letter sound.
HOW TO MAKE SAND FOAM?
Sand Foam is perfect for sensory exploration. It is made up using only two ingredients, sand and shaving cream. Kids will love running their hands and fingers through the fluffy, textured mixture.
SORTING SHAPES SENSORY BIN
Sorting Shapes in our Sensory Bin is a fun activity for children to learn about shapes, colours while developing their fine motor skills.
ALPHABET ICE AND SHAVING CREAM
Alphabet Ice and Shaving Cream is a fun-filled, messy sensory play activity that children can explore their senses and learn about alphabet letters in an open-ended, unstructured way. It provides an opportunity for children to explore creatively and imaginatively using the simple props in an open-ended and unstructured way.
BOTTLE TOP AND BUBBLE COUPS
Children will love creating bubbles with a whisk and searching for the bottle tops as they disappear amongst the bubble foam.
DIGGING FOR SPAGHETTI WORMS
Digging for Spaghetti Worms in Dirt is a simple sensory activity that only takes a few moments to set up. It’s exciting, it’s messy and the kids will have so much fun catching all the slippery and slimy spaghetti worms with tweezers and putting them into a jar.
HOMEMADE EDIBLE FINGER PAINT
Homemade Edible Finger Paint is perfect for babies aged 6-18 months , toddlers and children who are more likely to place paint covered fingers into their mouths. It is also a great paint for their ‘first’ painting experiences when you are unsure if bub is going to try and consume the paint.
MELTING INSECTS IN ICE
Melting Insects in Ice is fun activity to introduce children and pre-schoolers to the letter I. It is such a fun opportunity to talk about what the letter I looks like and what sound it makes.
MIXED BEANS & PEAS SENSORY TUB
My girls were fascinated by the different beans, peas and lentils. They have seen some of them before and others not so much and really wanted to taste them.
HOMEMADE CLOUD DOUGH
Cloud Dough which can sometimes be called Moon Sand is a homemade mixture used for sensory play experiences. The consistency of Cloud Dough can be powdery like flour and also mouldable, a bit like damp sand. It is perfect for moulding, shaping, squeezing, pressing and sculpting into different shapes.
SHAVING CREAM ACTIVITY TRAY
Messy, sensory play at its best! Shaving cream is great for sensory exploration and provides endless opportunities for children to play and discover.
OLD MAC DONALD HAD A FARM HIDE & SEEK SENSORY TUB
Hiding all the plastic farm animals and characters in the rice and split peas mixture. Then using the mini tongs, searching through the mixture to find and catch each of the farm animals. This is all done while singing Old Mac Donald had a farm.
PLAYING WITH GLOOPY GLOOP:
If you haven’t made Gloop yet, then this is a must for any toddler or child to try. It is super fun and super messy, I am not sure who had the most fun, me or the kids!! Gloop is an interesting mixture with a unique texture to explore and play with.
SOAPY SLIME FUN:
This activity was FUN, REALLY FUN!! Kids love to get messy, it comes with being a kid as they explore their natural curiosity about the world around them.
RAINBOW SENSORY RICE BAGS:
Bright, colourful, no mess and fun – sensory play with rainbow coloured rice in zip lock bags.
YELLOW THEME BALLOONS AND BOTTLE TOPS:
Having some sensory fun and learning the colour yellow in the bath with yellow water balloons, yellow bottle tops and yellow bath water.
BLUE THEME SENSORY TUB:
Having some fun in a sensory tub filled with blue rice and blue pompoms! Miss 22months loves sensory tubs and loves to run her fingers through the rice and pompoms and sprinkling them like it is rain.
EASTER THEME SENSORY PLAY TABLE:
The sensory table became a bit of a factory with sorting, making, moving, creating, role playing, pretending and games.
Making Fluffy Snow using soap flakes is a fun and messy sensory play activity. It is a great way to incorporate a bit of a Christmas theme, well sort of, here in Australia Christmas is celebrated in summer, far from any snow. But it is fun, encourages lots of learning and that is what it is all about.
SENSORY WATER BALLOON BATH FUN:
A fun sensory play experience for kids in the bath tub by adding balloons filled with water.
STRAWBERRY SCENTED RICE:
Exploring and playing with strawberry scented rice with all kinds of scoops, shovels and sifts.
BACK YARD WATER PARK
You will find lots of fun sensory play ideas in our Back Yard Water Park. There is soapy lime, shaving cream, bubbles, water balloons and so much more.
RAINBOW RICE AND BOTTLE TOPS:
Using Rainbow Rice and Bottle Tops to create an open-ended, unstructured activity and see what the kids create while playing with these props.
SENSORY PLAY WITH JELLY:
Ooey, gooey, slushy and messy! A fun sensory experience playing with Rainbow Jelly.
SENSORY PLAY WITH SAND:
Sand is a toy! The less a toy does the more a child will learn! Sand is such a great sensory toy for kids as they explore their sense of touch and play and discover the wonderful texture of sand!
WHAT IS HIDING IN OUR JELLY?
Since our first play experience with jelly, my kids have been asking if we could do it again. This time I hid some items in the jelly for them to squeeze and squish through to find.
Water and ice are great for sensory play with kids as it engages children into a world of exploration and wonder. To make our water and ice sensory play experience a little more fun we turned the ice blocks into boats with a few simple materials.
SENSORY PLAY WITH BUTTONS:
Kids love to run their hands through buttons, sort through them and explore the differences. Buttons are a great sensory toy and are also great to assist in learning about colours.
SENSORY ALPHABET HUNT:
Making learning your alphabet fun by searching for alphabet letters in a sensory tub with strawberry scented and pink coloured rice. This sensory play activity is a great game to motivate kids to learn their alphabet.
CHRISTMAS THEME SENSORY TABLE:
Christmas is an exciting time; it is also a time when we pull out all our Christmas decorations. There are lots of great sensory toys to explore with Christmas decorations, so I set up a sensory play table using several Christmas decorative items.
BOTTLE TOPS & BUBBLES:
A simple unstructured and fun sensory play idea using water, bubbles and bottle tops. It was wonderful to see the creativity, imagination and fun happen just by adding bottle tops and bubble bath to the tub.
We made these milk numbers by mixing milk and vinegar together. It is an interesting science experiment to try with the kids with some very surprising result.
Ice World is a sensory activity for toddlers and pre-school children involving playing with ice, water and sea theme props.
Play Dough is also a wonderful sensory tool to play with. We have tons of ideas of ways to play with play dough with different scents and textured play dough recipes too.
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