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.
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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!
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!
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!
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
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