10 Fun Sensory Activities for Toddlers, Pre-schoolers, Young Kids
Sensory play is an important part of early childhood development, and sensory activities, and arts and crafts are a great way to expose your kids to various new textures and materials. Below you can find a fun list of sensory activities for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and young kids for play based learning. These are also great fun!
Sensory Activities for Kids
Young children learn with their whole bodies. From birth, they use their five senses to explore the world around them.
Sensory activities for toddlers and young kids play an important part of that whole body learning.
Many parents think sensory activities are messy and are not worth the effort. But there are many fun sensory activities for toddlers and young kids that you can do at home, that won’t take too long to clean up afterwards, especially if you use a sensory bin to keep everything contained.
To make it easier we have broken this list of kids sensory activities into age group. You can adapt all of these sensory activities for kids for any age though. Find below:
- 5 Sensory activities for toddlers
- 5 Sensory activities for pre-schoolers
Many of these sensory activities for toddlers and pre-schoolers can also overlap depending on the interest and development of your child.
5 Sensory Activities for Toddlers
Toddlers don’t need anything really fancy, they are easily entertained. These fun sensory activities for toddlers are fairly easy. You can either make them yourself, or buy the materials.
1. Play dough
Playdough is one of the easiest sensory activities for toddlers and a fantastic play-based learning tool. Toddlers can explore different colours and smells, while working on their fine motor skills.
Make your own playdough with this PLAYDOUGH RECIPE. Add different tools such as shape cutters, and a rolling pin, and you have an all-round sensory activity for toddlers to enjoy in various different ways.
Playdough is widely available in stores and online, however you can also make it easily at home too with just a few ingredients.
2. Coloured rice
Another fun sensory activity for toddlers that is fairly easy to set up is coloured rice. You can purchase coloured rice, or make your own by dying the rice different colours.
To dye your own rice, simply place the rice in a zip lock bag, put a few drops of food dye, and shake until it is all covered. Then lay it out on a paper towel and leave it to dry. Once dry you are ready to go!
Use a large container as a sensory bin to keep it all contained, and add different tools such as cups and containers for your toddler to fill up and tip out.
3. Water Table
Water tables are a fantastic sensory play activity for toddlers and provide so many opportunities for children to explore and engage with their senses. You can buy all different versions, but if you don’t want a fancy table from the stores, you can make your own sensory bins out of large containers and different things you have at home in the kitchen such as different sized cups.
Children just want to be able to explore and play with the different materials, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. They can scoop the water in one container and pour it into the next.
4. Sand play
If you have a sand pit at home, then you are already set. If you can get to the beach, even better. But if not, then it is just as easy at home with a container of sand, some water, and some different type moulds.
Toddlers won’t really be interested in creating anything in particular. Usually, they just want to make some type of castle or mould and then smash it down again. And that is totally fine, it is all part of sensory play.
5. Finger or feet painting
This is one of the messier play sensory activities for toddlers but can also be a lot of fun. Finger painting can easily be done in the high chair with some paper and paint on your toddlers’ hands. Let them explore the different colours and mix them together. Pop some salt into the paint and they can also explore the different textures too.
For the feet painting, this is probably better to do outside on a nice warm day. All you need is some butchers paper and some paint in a container large enough for your toddler to step in. Let them walk around on the paper squishing around the paint and creating some art work. They will love it.
5 Sensory Activities for Pre-schoolers
If you have a pre-schooler, then all of the sensory activities for toddlers we have mentioned above are also great fun. They will probably use the different materials in different ways and really start to use their imagination to create.
Below you can find an additional 5 sensory activities for pre-schoolers especially, as they start to get older and more curious.
6. Beading or threading
Get your little one’s motor skills developing with some beading, a fun sensory activity for pre-schoolers and older kids too.
Using some wool or some type of string, kids can thread the beads along to make different creations such as jewellery or accessories. If you don’t have beads, then pasta is a great alternative. You can even paint or dye the pasta beforehand which makes double the fun with sensory play.
An easy sensory activity for pre-schoolers to do at home is some gardening. If you have somewhere you can plant in your garden or a planter box you can use that, otherwise even a small pot is fine.
Have your little one dig holes to plant the seeds and use water to water them daily. Here is a list of easy to grow vegetables for beginners.
Your can also ask your pre-schooler to help pull out some weeds in the garden, or collect the old leaves and weeds in a bucket.
8. Taste testing
A fun sensory activity for pre-schoolers to start exploring to explore different types of food, is taste testing. You can put a range of different foods on a plate and have your child pick up one by one.
The first sense is to touch the food to see how it feels like, then smell it, and finally taste it. See how many they can guess.
9. Mud Kitchen
One of the most popular sensory activities for pre-schoolers is sensory play with a mud kitchen. In fact, you will most likely find one of these in most childcare centres.
Making different creations with mud, water, and other materials is a great way for kids to use their imagination, develop their fine motor skills, and explore all of their senses.
If you don’t have a mud kitchen, you can make your own using a bench with large containers and buckets of water. It makes such a great summer kids activity.
10. Foam Painting
One of the messier sensory activities for pre-schoolers, but one that is also a lot of fun is foam painting. All you need is some shaving cream and a few drops of paint. They can either use their fingers or hands, or even a tooth pick or skewer to paint with the foam and make a 3D creation.
Benefits of Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers
Sensory activities for toddlers and pre-schoolers have numerous advantages for their overall development.
- Encourages language development:
Sensory activities are great for your toddler or pre-schooler’s language development as it creates opportunities for your little one to talk about what you are doing and experiencing. It also gives you as the parent, the opportunity to model language.
- Helps to develop motor skills:
Sensory play creates numerous opportunities for toddlers and pre-schoolers to practice and develop their motor skills, especially those which encourage the manipulation of objects with their hands and hand-eye coordination.
- Aids in calming anxiety or stress: Some sensory activities and materials can also help to calm a stressed child, especially those which encourage concentration and keep the child’s attention for a long period.
- Encouraging problem solving: Many sensory activities for toddlers and pre-schoolers create opportunities for problem solving. This may be that the playdough needs to fit in a certain place, a bead that needs to thread in a certain way, or keeping the water from falling on the ground.
More Kids Activities
Hopefully these sensory activities for toddlers and pre-schoolers have inspired you to encourage sensory play with your child. If you are looking for more fun kids activity ideas check out our long list of Things to do at home with kids, and for outdoor fun, see our Summer activities for kids post.