Sensory Play Activities! 40 Sensory Play Activities for Kids with Autism

Sensory play activities are a perfect way to engage your child’s sense of touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight, and hearing. Sensory play activities are essential for every child as they stimulate these senses and encourage social, emotional, and language development. But they are especially helpful to children with sensory processing disorder and children on the autism spectrum who have difficulty with everyday sensory stimulation.

Sensory Play Activities! If you’re looking for sensory activities for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, or school-aged kids, you’re in luck! Here’s a list of sensory activities for kids with autism and special needs that help kids calm down, stimulate their senses, develop social skills, language skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and self-control skills while they have FUN! #autism #specialneeds #specialneedsparenting

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What Are Sensory Play Activities?

Sensory play activities are activities that engage your child’s sense of smell, touch, taste, sight, sound, plus proprioceptive (movement) and vestibular (balance).

Sensory play activities help improve focus, cognitive development, and social skills.

Sensory play allows your sensory sensitive child to experiment with different objects and textures on his terms. Sensory Play activities give parents the opportunity to watch and learn more about our children in a relaxed setting so that we can be better prepared for that playdate next week or the first day of school or life experiences in general.

Benefits of Sensory Play Activities

Sensory play has TONS of benefits. I’ll try to keep it short and list the five main skills can learn!

Social Skills: Kids learn to share, plan, take turns and negotiate

Language Skills: Children build and develop vocabulary as they are engaged in pretend play

Fine Motor Skills: Children are developing fine motor skills when they play with small objects in sensory bins. Also, they are building hand-eye coordination!

Gross Motor Skills: Squatting, jumping or throwing balls builds muscles and motor skills in a fun way

Self Control Skills:  Your child develops self-control as he learns to respect the rules of the activity

Many children find sensory play activities calming and soothing, especially when performed as a part of a daily routine sensory diet. You may want to speak with a qualified Occupational Therapist about a sensory diet of activities for your child.

If you’re interested in reading more about sensory diets, I recommend Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel – available on Kindle and paperback formats on amazon.

Sensory Play Activities! 40 Sensory Play Activities

Whether you’re searching for sensory play activities for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, or school-aged children, this collection has you covered.

These sensory activities are ideal for calming kids with autism, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and other special needs. These easy DIY ideas for home or school help kids develop social, language, motor, and self-control skills.

Must-Have Sensory Bin Items

You don’t need expensive things to put together a fabulous sensory experience for your child, but here are a few items you may want to have on hand if you don’t already have them.

Large Plastic Tubs

Water Beads

Kinetic Sand

Fine Motor Tool Set

Ice Cream Sensory Bin – Fantastic Fun & Learning

This sensory activity is perfect for pretend play while working on fine motor and cooperative skills at home or in the classroom! 

Gardening Sensory Bin – Frugal Mom Eh!

This hands on sensory play activity is fabulous for when the weather is cooperating and the entire project cost under $20! 

Custom Made Sensory Bottles – Melanie West

Check out these super cool, and customizable sensory bottles! My friend, Melanie West, made a few for my son, Nathan. She walked me through her process of customization based on preferences, triggers and preferred activities.

She typically charges $35 per bottle. Mention you saw them here on WTYM for a 10% discount!

Rainbow Button Sensory Bottle – Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

The bright colors of the buttons make counting a fun activity! Bonus-This is super easy to DIY on the cheap! 

Not-So-Spooky Monster Sensory Play – B-Inspired Mama

You don’t have to wait until Halloween to try this super fun sensory bin from B-Inspired Mama! The fun colors, the water beads, and all the light-up stuff is just too good for only once a year! 

Edible Sensory Play Balls – Kids Craft Room

One of my-I mean my son’s-favorite sensory play activities! Oh, who am I kidding-I love this one too! It’s so much fun & easy to DIY! 

Frog Pond Sensory Play – Little Bins For Little Hands

Rainbow Color Sorting Sensory Bin – The Resourceful Mama

Kim (AKA The Resourceful Mama) came up with this brilliant sensory activity as a sandbox replacement! 

Magnetic Pom Poms – Powerful Mothering 

Dried Bean Sensory Table – Craftulate

Drinking Straw Sensory Tub – I Can Teach My Child

One of the most unique sensory play activities I’ve seen-and it’s easy & cheap! If your child enjoys sorting as much as mine then you’ve found a winner here-for school or home! 

Edible Sludge Sensory Play (Taste Safe) – And Next Comes L 

Washing Farm Animal Sensory Bin – Coffee Cups and Crayons

Sometimes we need a simple, easy, low maintenance source of entertainment-and this would be one of the best! My son loves anything animal related-bring water into mix & it’s gold! This washing farm animal sensory bin combines the two making it one of our favorite sensory activities for kids! 

Marshmallow Play Dough – Growing a Jeweled Rose 

Love this recipe for play dough from Growing a Jeweled Rose! It’s taste safe-so that’s one less worry for you-plus it’s a fun texture for a sensory play experience DIY style! 

Pom Pom Ice Cubes for Sensory Play – The Paige Diaries

You can do so much with pom pops-from color sorting and recognition to counting and developing fine motor skills. This activity from The Paige Diaries takes pom pom sensory play to another level!  

Bubble Wrap Stomp Painting – Mess for Less

This play activity combines art, gross motor, and tactile sensory to create one multi-tasking super fun (& cheap) idea! My son has recently discovered his love of all things between his toes-Tide, shampoo, Dawn, anything and everything squishy! As you can image-this gets costly & messy. This activity gives him the opportunity for that tactile feedback he craves-& is much easier on the wallet & clean up!  

Dollar Store Sensory Balloons – Mostly Under Control

Shaving Cream Painting Process Art – Fun with Mama

You only need a few inexpensive supplies for this fun sensory play activity!

Washable Painting on a Shower Curtain – Fun Learning for Kids

Homemade Bath Paints – Parenting Chaos

If your little one love the tub as much as mine does, then you’ll appreciate this  DIY bath paint tutorial from Stephanie at Parenting Chaos! Then you’ll have a fabulous & budget friendly sensory activity anytime! 

Leaf Sensory Bags – Kids Craft Room

Rainbow Pipe Cleaner Sensory Bottle – Fun Learning for Kids

Sand and Water Ocean Sensory Bin – Fun Learning for Kids

Lemon Scented Rice Summer Sensory Bin – Little Bins For Little Hands

Bubble Foam Sensory Activity – Busy Toddler

Texture Balloons for Kids Tactile Sensory Play – Little Bins for Little Hands

Carpet Square Painting & Sensory Board – Crayon Box Chronicles

Grab some paper plates, any old carpet samples you may happen to have at home (or can arrange to have donated by any well-meaning carpet dealer near you) and some non toxic paint. Maybe get a drop cloth (I use Dollar Tree shower curtains). Now-you’re ready to have fun! 

Edible Slime (Chemical & Borax Free) – Fun at Home with Kids

Pouring Station Activity – Busy Toddler

Space Sensory Bin – Sugar, Spice and Glitter

Rainbow Ice Ball Sensory Bin – Craftulate

Ocean Small World Play for Tots – Rainy Day Mum

Alphabet Sift & Find – Busy Toddler

Color Mixing Sensory Bottle – Preschool Inspirations

Super cool DIY! Remember the commercial years ago-Yellow + Blue makes Green? I think it was for Ziplock, but anyway you’ll get a little color 411 science lesson that goes beyond a sandwich bag here! Oh, and my guess is your child is going to love these sensory bottles just as much as Nathan loves his! 

Mud Painting – Fun-A-Day

Shaving Cream and Water Beads Sensory Bin – Parenting Chaos

Rainbow Dyed Noodles – Growing A Jeweled Rose

Because plain spaghetti noodles are a little boring-find out how to inject a little color to make pasta the ultimate sensory activity for kids! 

Colored Cloud Dough – Kids Activities Blog

Apple Scented Water Beads – Learn Play Imagine

Fabulous Fall Sensory Bin – Happy Hooligans 

Winter Snow Sensory Bin – Mommy’s Bundle

Need More Autism Resources?

Having a child with autism can be a major challenge. Here are a few more articles that will help.

26 Signs You May Be An Autism Mom

8 Reasons AngelSense Is The Best GPS Tracker For Autism (The Sensory Friendly Tracking Device We Trust)

2 Ways To Make Homemade Playdough

50 Sensory Diet Activities: What A Sensory Diet Can Do For Your Child With Autism 

50 Tools Every Autism Mom Should Have in Her Calm Down Kit

The Difference Between An Autism Meltdown & A Tantrum

55 Heavy Work Activities That Help Kids Calm Down & Focus

65 Brilliant Gift Ideas For Kids With Autism (Developmental Toys)

How To Plan A Disney Vacation (With Your Child With Autism)

If you enjoyed this collection of sensory play activities, please share it on Pinterest!  

Sensory Play Activities! If you’re looking for sensory activities for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, or school-aged kids, you’re in luck! Here’s a list of sensory activities for kids with autism and special needs that help kids calm down, stimulate their senses, develop social skills, language skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and self-control skills while they have FUN! #autism #specialneeds #specialneedsparenting

Today’s Quote: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” – Maya Angelou


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