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Sensory Play For Toddlers: Ideas and Activities

Sensory Play For Toddlers: Ideas and Activities

Posted in #toddlers, activities

From birth, your child instinctively processes the world and new information by exploring their senses and discovering new textures, materials and resources. Here, we’ve put together some great sensory play ideas for toddlers that will heighten their senses, enrich their learning and keep them entertained.


The Benefits of Sensory Play

As well as being super-fun, playing provides endless opportunities for learning - from social skills to muscular strength, which is necessary for writing. Here are some benefits of sensory play for toddlers:

  • Enhances problem-solving skills.
  • Promotes memory skills.
  • Supports language development.
  • Encourages curiosity, concentration, persistence, determination, and independence.
  • Calms and soothes.  


Indoor Sensory Play Ideas For Toddlers 

Your curious toddler wants to explore and experience the world. From bouncy fun to mindful activities, there are loads of ideas just waiting to be discovered indoors.


Rock And Roll

Create a safe space inside for them to play. Clear away furniture, then pile-up pillows, cushions, yoga mats, and sleeping bags. Look for challenging yet safe ways for your child to jump, balance, crawl, and climb. Add some upbeat music for extra bounce. 



use cushions to make a safe space for sensory play


Messy Play 

Whether it’s with paint, sand, clay, gloop, playdough or water, messy or tactile play is the most fun. Messy play is something many parents avoid, however, because it’s inconvenient. We get it! Mess equals stress. But, for toddlers, it can be soothing and will keep them engaged for a long time. 

One way to contain the mess is to designate a space for it, both indoors and outside. An outdoor mud kitchen allows your child to explore and use their imagination. You could also make a space inside with buckets, large trays, and towels. 


Calm And Soothe

Help overwhelmed or angry toddlers self-regulate. A simple disco light and ambient music can offer all sorts of contrasts to gaze at. Simply lower the blinds, get comfy on some cushions and experience new sounds and sights together. 


 Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Mushie Ball Teether - Tradewinds Fat Brain Toys Whirly Squigz



Outdoor Sensory Play Ideas For Toddlers 

Nature provides space to move about as well as intriguing sounds, sights, textures, and smells. 

  • Draw your toddler’s attention to the seasons and the weather. 
  • Introduce them to gardening and watch plants bloom throughout the year. 
  • Use materials from the natural world for a spot of floating and sinking play. 
  • Investigate the color, texture and shape of rocks, leaves, soil and flowers.
outdoor sensory play ideas for toddlers


Sunny Weather Sensory Play Activities For Toddlers

Warm and sunny days are perfect for getting your toddler outside for some sensory fun. Just add water or ice! 

  • Add some fresh and zingy lemon slices to a tray or large bowl of water. 
  • Experiment with hiding small toys in wet sand and then freezing it. 
  • Frozen water balloons are beautiful to look at and fun to squish as they thaw. 
  • Add some bubbles into the mix. Kids go crazy for foam and it’s oh-so-easy for you!


Rainy Day Sensory Play Ideas For Toddlers 

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing! Here are some sensory activities for when the heavens open.

  • Sing in the rain. 
  • Jump in a puddle.
  • Make mud pies or nature soup. 
  • Use cups to measure the rain – these Fat Brain Suction Kupz can also be used in the tub.


fat brain toys suction kupz


Single Child Sensory Play Activities For Toddlers 

Most toddlers don’t actually play with other children, preferring to engage in ‘parallel play’, so entertaining a little person on their own is not as scary as you’d think. We recommend taking to the tub! Your little one will be contained as well as entertained. Add some water, sponges and little toys. Shaving foam is a huge hit too – add food coloring for extra fun. 


Group Sensory Play Ideas For Toddlers

Sensory stories are a fantastic way to involve little ones in a group sensory activity. Take a well-known childhood favorite story or fairy tale, and add some actions, movements, sounds, sights, textures and even tastes and smells into the mix. 


Simple Sensory Play Activities When You Only Have 10 Minutes 

Don’t have the time or energy to set up a sensory bin or get involved in a complicated activity?  

Try these quick and easy sensory play ideas:

  • Marshmallows: toddlers won’t be able to resist squeezing their unique bouncy texture (they smell good too!).
  • Straw-filled colander: show your toddler how to thread straws through the holes, boosting their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Crushing baking soda: spread chunks out on a cookie sheet and allow your toddler to break up the pieces.
  • Shredded paper: encourage your tot to rip up tissue paper – they’ll love the rustle!

indoor sensory play ideas for toddlers


Sensory Play Activities For Toddlers When You Have Time To Prep 

Set up these fun activities in advance:

  • Paint in a zip-lock bag: a great way to avoid mess. Allow your little one to draw pictures on the bag with their fingers and feel the squidgy paint move around in the bag.
  • Rainbow noodles: cook some noodles, dye them different colors and pop them in a mixing bowl for slippery fun.
  • Cardboard tunnel: build a cardboard box tunnel big enough for your tot to crawl through and attach pieces of plush carpet, knotty bits of felt and strips of ribbon for them to feel the different textures. 
  • Playdough: an oldie but a goodie! We love this Good Housekeeping playdough recipe.


Need a sensory toy while you’re on the go? Pop this fun button toy in your diaper bag. For more insipration and sensory play ideas, check out our selection of toys.

Mushie Flower Press Toy Mushie Stacking Cups Toy Fat Brain Toys Dimpl 


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