19 Sensory Activities For Toddlers to Make Their Imaginations Run Wild
Toddlers have a natural curiosity for how the world works and energy that never seems to run out. So for parents looking to focus their toddler's spirit and vigor, sensory activities are designed to stimulate your little one's senses and promote learning through play — a perfect outlet for all their energy. And with expert recommendations to back them up, you can feel confident in choosing sensory activities for your busy toddler.
"Very simply, sensory play is a type of exploratory play that actively engages a child's five senses," Sally Macaluso, educational blogger and special education preschool teacher, tells POPSUGAR.
According to Macaluso, sensory activities go beyond just being an activity to keep them entertained. This style of play helps to "enhance creativity, motor skills, body awareness, language development, and cognitive skills," Macaluso says. "They also help children to make sense of the world around them."
The good news is that there are plenty of sensory-focused activities that are perfect for toddlers. "Sensory play doesn't have to be expensive to be meaningful," Macaluso says. "Parents can create sensory-play experiences using materials they already have around the house."
From slime to sensory bins, here are some creative sensory activities for toddlers to keep them entertained for hours and learning along the way.
Play With Playdough
Explore With Finger Painting
Yes! Finger paint is a fun activity that promotes fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. But it's also a great sensory activity that allows toddlers to feel the different textures of the paint, get their creativity out on paper, and explore those sensations through their fingers.
Have Fun With Bubbles or Water
Bubbles are fun for people of any age, and toddlers are understandably fascinated with them. Blow up a few, and watch your toddler light up as they try to pop each and every one. If you don't have bubbles, just letting them splash in water is good fun, too. Water play "provides endless sensory experiences and fun. Just toss in some bath toys, empty cups or bowls, spray bottles or medicine droppers, etc., and your child is good to go!" Macaluso shares.
Play With Shaving Cream and Food Coloring
Play With Rainbow Rice
Make a Sensory Board With Different Textures
Play With Kinetic Sand
Create a Calming Rice Bin
Make a Sensory Bin With Dried Beans and Scoops
Play With Slime
There's a reason slime has been an activity of choice for generations. There are several different ways you can switch up slime to make it perfect for your kid, including how malleable the slime is and adding texture with glitter or beads.
Make Melting Ice Full of Fun
Make a Sensory Bin With Sand and Sea Creatures
Play With Colored Ice Cubes
Ice cubes generally aren't that fun, but these aren't your regular ice cubes. Freeze some water with food coloring in ice-cube trays, and when the cubes are ready, kids can use them as paintbrushes, creating fun art as the ice melts.
Create Sensory Jars
Play With Rain-Stick Jars
Sensory play also includes sounds, and being able to play music engages several senses. All you need for this sensory toy are a few clear plastic bottles, sticks, and other small noise-making items (like tiny rocks or beads!).