22 Feb 25 Sensory Activities & Ideas For Kids & Toddlers
25 Sensory Activities & Ideas For Kids & Toddlers
Playing and learning don’t have to be different. Include sensory activities for toddlers in their daily routine and make learning fun!
We adults can have a limited outlook on teaching and learning. We think of teaching our kids with flashcards, reading stories, memorizing alphabets, etc. These activities do have a place, but we forget that playing is a form of learning. In this article, we will talk about sensory activities for toddlers – definition, benefits, and activity ideas.
Sensory play has been a naturally occurring form of learning for kids since the beginning of time. Tickle Right uses this technique and many others to foster growth, development and learning amongst preschoolers.
Table of Contents
What Is Sensory Play?
Your child interacts with the world using their five senses, i.e., sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Sensory play is a play that focuses on the activation and stimulation of these senses. Using these five senses, your child would learn and experience the world around them. Since children usually learn through playing, sensory activities are a form of play.
Benefits Of Sensory Activities For Toddlers
There are several benefits of sensory activities for children. They are
- Sensory activities help in the growth and development of children
- Toddlers can take vast amounts of information and form a working idea about the world.
- It’s an active form of play that helps the brain make new connections to deal with the increasing complexity of tasks and ideas.
- Sensory play helps in language development and makes them better readers.
- It develops mindfulness skills in kids, helping them deal with their emotions.
- Children build observation skills, fine and gross motor skills, social skills, abstract thinking, and experimentation.
- These activities are great for children with ‘sensory issues.’ Sensory issues in kids can look like difficulty in transitioning from one activity to another. Or freaking out about a particular sensation.
25 Sensory Activity Ideas For Your Toddler Or Preschooler
Sensory play helps in the right brain development of your child. It stimulates their senses, creativity, and learning. Tickle Right has made a list of sensory activity ideas that you can incorporate into your toddler’s playtime.
1. Create A Sensory Bin
A sensory bin is a container filled with different objects of different textures and sensations. You can fill the bin with natural objects like leaves, rocks, and sands. Food items like pasta, rice, and beans. Along with spoons, scoops, and toys buried in the mix. Kids tend to explore with their hands and mouths, so it is advisable to supervise, clean all items, and avoid choking hazards.
2. Playing With Food
We understand playing with food can be a messy business, but it’s an excellent way for kids to do sensory learning. Studies show that kids who play with their food are more open to eating new foods. If you are worried about food play, you can differentiate between playtime and mealtime as different.
3. Play Dough
You can buy playdough at your local store. Playdoughs are great for playing because of their soft and squishing texture. Children can enjoy hours of rolling, slicing, and chopping the play dough. If you wish to, you can even make playdough at home, adding your own colors and scents.
Sandboxes are simple but extremely fun for your little one to play with. You can consider investing in a sandbox and some sand toys like shovels or cups to get them started. Once kids start playing, their imagination will take off, and they will have good fun.
5. Plant A Garden
Gardening is something that you can do with your child. It can be something as small as planting a few seeds in a cup. This activity is a delight to the senses because of actions like digging in the dirt, weeding, watering plants, or smelling flowers and herbs.
Jumping will stimulate your child’s sense of movement. It is also a fun activity for them that channels their enormous amount of energy. You can include many jumping activities in your kid’s playing time, such as jump ropes, obstacle course, small exercise trampolines, and sitting on an exercise ball.
7. Finger Painting
You can combine art and sensory play with finger painting. It can also be a helpful tool for kids to learn about color mixing. They will also have a blast being messy and making art. Kids will also develop fine motor skills, coordination, and creativity skills through finger painting.
8. Bounce On A Ball
It can be a fun sensory activity plus exercise for your kind. If the ball is large, you can help your kid to push down the ball enough so they can bounce. If the ball is smaller, your child would be able to bounce themselves. Make sure the ball is in the right shape and size so they can straddle it comfortably.
9. Knee Rocking Horse
Your toddler is still small enough to be able to bounce on a ball, or you might be worried they might fall over. In that case, you can rock them on your knees. Lay down on your back and support your kid on your knees to rock them back and forth. Otherwise, you can use rocking chairs, gliders, or rocking horses instead.
Swinging is a classic playground activity that all kids love to play. You can include it more by adding tire swings in your backyard. You can also lay down your toddler in the middle of a blanket and swing them back and forth with the help of another person. This would add new sensations to your kid’s experience.
11. Push And Pull Toys
Pushing and pulling activities stimulate the proprioceptive sense of children. It can have a calming effect on children. You can include this activity in your kid’s playtime by giving them a push toy or a toy shopping cart. You can even load the toy cart with extra weights like books. This would add more sensation to their sensory play.
12. Play with Scarves
As we have seen till now, sensory play can be very simple. One more simple activity that can stimulate the sensations of a kid is playing with scarves or fabric scraps with different textures. They can jump in them, cover their face with them or just explore the feel of different fabrics.
13. Jumping On Pillows
You can pull all the pillows from the couch or bed and let your toddler jump and crawl over them. They will get lots of sensory input from all the jumping, climbing, and crashing. Moreover, it will keep them entertained. They can do this by jumping on the couch, bed, or even a trampoline.
14. Smelling Spices
You can include your toddler while you are cooking by letting them smell different spices and foods. This activity will help them understand smells in a different way than they usually do. It will also help them accept eating new foods in an easier manner.
15. Hanging Mobile
The hanging mobile over your child’s crib gives them a source of visual stimulation. A hanging mobile is something fascinating to look at since it is colorful, moving, and reflecting. It is a type of sensory play that helps them develop visual skills.
16. Smiling Faces In Photos
You can show your family photos and point out the smiling faces to your child. Kids learn to recognize the comfort and reassurance of a smile before they develop language skills. Learning to recognize smiles in their environment will develop their sense of security and build their visual skills.
Singing songs with your child from an early age will help them develop their listening skills. You don’t need to have great singing skills to do this with your kid. Just put on a song and sing along like you usually do. Singing has great sensory and cognitive benefits.
18. Mirror Games
This is one of the best sensory activities for 1-year-olds. Place a mirror in front of your infant so they can see their face or body in the mirror. Interacting with their reflection will help them develop self-awareness and learn about their environments.
19. Sponges And Water
Fill a small tray with water and add a couple of sponges to them. It’s a fun and safe sensory activity for a kid to learn by putting things in their mouth. Your infant can practice picking and squeezing sponges and splashing water. This activity develops their body awareness, object exploration skills, and sense of touch.
20. Ice Cubes In A Bowl
Ice cubes in a bowl are another safe, simple, and fun sensory activity for infants. While your little one is having fun splashing in the water, they are also developing their motor skills by trying to grasp the slippery ice cubes from the bowl. They also learn the difference between warmth and cold.
21. Cornstarch – Water Mix
The mix of one cup of water with two cups of cornstarch makes a particular type of fluid. This fluid has a special property of getting rock-hard when you squeeze it but becoming like water when you let it go. Playing with this kind of fluid, kids learn about new textures, develop fine motor skills, and build their sense of touch.
22. Pretend Tightrope
This is a simple game that helps toddlers develop a sense of balance. You can put a rope or string on the ground and let the toddlers try walking along the rope without stepping off. This activity builds bodily awareness, balance, and fine motor control in the child.
23. Rice Scoops
All kids love to dig, scoop, shovel, and dump objects. They develop motor skills and a sense of touch in this way. Scooping a bin of rice or pasta (cooked or uncooked) is a fun and edible way for toddlers to do this activity. You can add scoops of different sizes for your kid to learn to lift heavier objects that require more effort to move.
24. Simon Says
Simon Says is a game that develops the listening ability of a child. They learn to focus, listen, understand, remember, and follow instructions through the game. Since the game requires movement, it makes them bodily aware too. It’s a fun, competitive sensory play that will develop various skills in your child.
25. Freeze Tag
This is one of the best outdoor sensory activities for 2-year-olds and above. Freeze is played in a group, where the person who gets tagged must ‘freeze’ in their current position. They can unfreeze only when they are saved by another team member. This game is a fun physical activity for kids that also builds their social skills. As the kids get tagged in various positions, it also develops their sense of balance and body awareness.
1. What are sensory activities?
Sensory activities are those that stimulate the senses of a human. These senses include the five we know: sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing. It also consists of the ones we don’t know: balance (vestibular), movement (proprioceptive), and internal (interoceptive).
2. What items can be used for sensory play?
Sensory play can be done with very simple items such as
- Paper pulp
- Scarves or fabric scraps
- Shaving foam
- Soapy bubbles
- Clean mud
- Sand or salt
3. What are sensory activities for babies?
Some suitable sensory activities for infants would be
- Hanging mobile
- Rocking back and forth motion
- Ice water in a bowl
- Sponge and water
- Playing with food
Sensory play is simple and can be done even just with the items lying around the house. It can be a great fun activity for kids that engages all their senses. They interact and learn about the world around them while they are entertained. It might get messy from time to time, but that just adds to the learning and fun!