15 sensory play activities for kids
Encourage your child to explore and learn with creative sensory activities.
Parents and teachers are always looking for activities to support children to explore and learn– at home and in school. Here are some sensory play activities for kids that incorporate colour, smell, sound, and textures to give your child a sensory experience, while improving their motor skills.
- Collect sand in a bucket so your child can play with different textures. Get creative with it. Add toys. Build a sandcastle. Pretend you’re at the beach or go to a beach. Use coloured sand. You can even try using water for a different experience.
- Play with Play-Doh®. They can build anything they want. Use cookie cutters to make new shapes or a rolling pin to flatten it down. The only limit is their imagination.
- Kids love being creative and artistic. Crayons, pencils, paint brushes and chalk are available in different shapes and sizes to help children be able to hold them easily. Even painting plain water on a footpath or fence is fun and dries with no mess.
- Put on a puppet show! This can be done with sock puppets, finger puppets or toys. Your child will want to put on a puppet show too. This then leads into creating more puppets. For extra production value, try incorporating a cardboard box as the stage.
- Play music. Either through headphones or a speaker. Your child may wish to dance along so dance with them.
- Dance with scarves. Get a range of silk or lightweight fabric scarves and move them together to music. Use up-beat music to get them moving, or slow music for relaxation.
- Need quiet time? No problem. A blanket thrown over furniture can make a handy tent where quiet play can occur in the dark or a torch can help make shadow puppets. Building and packing up the tent is a great gross motor skill to practice.
- Create a shredded flower bouquet. This activity involves ripping and shredding of paper to create a beautiful composition. Kids will love the touch of handling paper and playing with shapes and colours. Just rip some ‘petals’ and paste them on a piece of paper.
- Sing together or sing to them. Be creative and give them something to sing into to act like a microphone. Time to get those lungs working.
- Set up a mini bowling game. Use toys or paper towel tubes – anything that stands on its own and is easy to knock over – to act as the pins. Give them something to roll and watch them have a ball. This is a great way to improve motor skills like hand-eye coordination, aiming, and actions such as swinging.
- Another fun, hand-eye coordination activity is playing catch. All you need is a ball and your hands. Balls with bells or lights are easier to hear or see, and light, soft balls are easier to catch.
- Bring them into the kitchen to help you cook or do other activities. This all depends on what you are making and how interested your child is. If there is dough involved, get your child to knead and roll it. Alternatively, give them a spatula and a plastic bowl and have them mimic the actions you’re making.
- Invite family or friends over. Your child may want social interaction and may want to participate in some of the other child’s favourite games.
- Another sport-related activity could be shooting hoops. Go down to an activity centre or gym and you’re ready to play.
- Give them a camera to play with. They will enjoy taking photos of you, the environment, or their favourite things. When finished it’s fun to view the photos together.
You know your child the best and depending on your child’s abilities and personality, different activities will suit. Sometimes the simplest ideas work the best. Try some of these ideas, be creative, and have fun!