5 Sensory Play Ideas for Kids

The satisfying pop of bubblewrap or the whine of microphone feedback? The smell of burning rubber or freshly ground coffee? We all know how powerful your senses can be.Forget hours spent on the iPad. An influential way for your little one to learn about the world around them is to see, touch, taste, smell or hear it. Sensory play is a great way to encourage your bub to kickstart this exploration.

The benefits are proven. Sensory play is a form of scientific investigation, encouraging children to make hypotheses and discover conclusions. It supports cognitive growth by developing nerve connections in your child’s brain. This improves their ability to tackle complex learning tasks, concentrate and get to grips with their motor skills. Most importantly, it’s interesting for them. Your imagination is the limit when thinking of play ideas, but here’s some to get you started.

Ice cream topping station
This sprinkle station will rival any Italian gelato stand. Fill a tub with multicolour rice, sand toys and pom poms. Kids pinch, squeeze and scoop up the rice to strengthen their fine motor skills. Plus you’ve got to socialise if you’re asking a customer for one scoop or two! An added bonus is reusing the sprinkles for alphabet writing practice for any older children.

Giant mermaid fabric board
Like magpies, we’re drawn to sparkly sequins. Kids love to use big sweeping motions to make the colours and textures change on this mermaid board. The touchable fabric encourages them to strengthen their core and arm muscles. All you need is a metre or so of the fabric, cardboard and glue.

Frozen paint for hot days
This one is a more simple sensory trick for little ones (but also simple for parents to make!). Pop some paint in an ice cube tray and leave to freeze for about 20 minutes. Push some craft or icy pole sticks in after that, then leave to freeze entirely for another few hours. Take your frozen paint cubes into the sunshine, pop them out of their tray and let the fun begin as they start to melt. You’ll want some thick paper to absorb the extra moisture. Older ones can use the stick as a guide like they would a paintbrush, little ones might just want to hold the cubes. Hop under the hose pipe after for a cool down and clean up!

Sensory play is a form of scientific investigation…

Musical rainsticks
Recreate the sound of rain on a rooftop with these rattle water bottles. Not only do they make a great sound, but the clear bottles create a visual and tactile experience too. Voss water bottles work well for this and can usually be found at Woolies or Officeworks. Fill with twigs, rice, beans, lentils, sprinkles, sand, sugar, salt, rocks or anything else you have around the house. Expired food works perfectly to minimise waste. Don’t forget to get the kids involved when you’re scooping and pouring into the bottles too.

Rubber duck race
Spring racing move aside. For fine motor skill development, it’s all about the rubber duck race. Using a large tub of water and some spray bottles, line up your ducks (and the kids!) Spraying the ducks will propel them to the other side, though kids will also have fun learning how the ducks sink and float.

In a society obsessed by digital technology, support your little one’s development by getting hands on instead. These ideas will get you started but anything tactile will do the trick. Look at what’s hanging around in your craft box to minimise waste, then head to your local shopping centre to pick up anything missing. Get the kids involved at every stage for it to feel like their own project. Learning, play, peace of mind for mum… that’s a win, win, win!


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