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Ideas for Sensory Play

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

The possibilities for different sensory play ideas are endless but here are just a few to get you started…

  • Farmyard toys used alongside real hay and drinking chocolate ‘mud’ make for great small world role play with the sensory elements of touch and especially smell.

  • Put water coloured with food colouring into spray bottles and spray it onto rice krispie cereal. As well as colouring the cereal there will be the added sensory experiences of watching and feeling the cereal go from crunchy to soft and the sound of crackling.

  • Salt dough - great for playing with and making different shapes that can then be cooked and painted so they can keep them afterwards. (Recipe: 500g flour, 500g salt and 250ml water. Mix together in a bowl and knead until smooth. When ready to bake cook for 1hr at 150 degrees)

  • Play dough - Because of the nature of Play dough children are able to feel very much in control and make into whatever they wish and also destroy and remake it at any time. (Recipe: 250g flour, 50g salt, 140ml water, 1-2 tablespoons cooking oil, food colouring. Mix together in a bowl and knead until smooth)

  • Dig for worms by filling a tray with compost and then cut cooked spaghetti pieces to the length of worms and children dig through the soil to find the ‘worms’.

  • Sugar cubes and sugar used to make an arctic role play scene. I used the addition of shiny paper and loose sugar to add to the snow effect.

  • ‘Glitter salt’ – mix salt and glitter and use it in a tray for children to write in. Depending on their level they can use the salt to mark make or to practice forming letters and numbers. They can also use brushes like in the picture or their finger.

  • Cook spaghetti and add food colouring.

  • Help toys escape from ice blocks. Carefully put a toy inside a balloon then fill it with water and freeze it. Children can then watch it melt to slowly release the toy, or hit it to try and break the ice or pour water over to watch it melt.

  • Glitter bottles – I love making these and I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t also enjoy them. Part fill a bottle with warm water and then pour in glitter glue and shake it up. Top the bottle up with water and add some loose glitter. You can mix it up and make them your own by adding other things like sequins, beads, buttons.

  • Lava bottles – corn syrup is perfectly thick and moves slowly so if you fill a bottle with it and then add some small toys or beads they will travel slowly to the other end of the bottle each time you turn it. They are mesmerising.

  • Rainbow rice - I used liquid water colour to dye the rice, it is quick drying and easy to use and gives a really bright vibrant effect. This is great for playing with, using containers and and pouring. You can also lay a think layer in a tray and have children write in it to practice forming letter and numbers.

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