Little ones learn with their whole bodies. Sensory activities for toddlers (such as these ones focusing on the sense of touch) are a very important part of that whole-body learning.
Sensory play exposes children to many new experiences, textures, and materials. It is calming for many children and also presents children with new language that they might not otherwise experience: rough, smooth, clumpy, brittle…
Sensory play strengthens little hands and builds fine motor skills too—so let’s get playing!!
Just before we dive into all the sensory activities, how about a batch of playdough? If there is one thing PERFECT for toddlers, it is playdough. I have the best ever recipe. No-cooking is needed and it is truly no-fail. Plus, little ones can follow along and help with every step using my visual playdough recipe!
Sensory Activities for Toddlers
Exploring the 5 Senses
Exploring the 5 Senses While Playing Outside – A little while ago I decided to explore the 5 senses with my toddlers while playing outside. It was such a fun experience! We explored our senses of touch, sight, hearing, smelling, and even tasting. Your toddlers will love this fun way to explore their five senses.
Easy Sensory Bin Ideas
Woolly Sheep Sensory Play for Toddler – Cotton balls are a perfect, soft, fluffy, and versatile choice for sensory play. Little ones will love to squish, pull, and squeeze them then see how they interact with sticky contact paper. After all that sensory play, you might even get a woolly sheep craft to show off!
Water Bead Sensory Bag by Sugar Aunts – Water beads are an amazing sensory experience for kids as they delight in squishing, sliding, pressing, and moving the beads. Turn them into a sensory bag for those younger children who may still put things in their mouths.
Bubble Wrap Road by Sunny Day Family – Add sensory play to the favorite activity of driving toy cars around the house.
Rainbow Glitter Jars by Fun-A-Day – These colorful glitter jars will capture your kids’ attention! Use plastic jars or bottles, glue the tops down, and then let the children shake and observe.
Easy Paper Sensory Activity by TinkerLab – All you need to create this sensory activity for toddlers is paper and water! Kids will see and feel the paper change as they dunk it in water and explore the concepts of thick/thin, hard/soft, dry/soggy.
Circle Themed Toddler Sensory Play by Lemon Lime Adventures – Make a sensory bin all about shapes—in this case, all about circles. Let the children explore circles and spheres of various textures and sizes.
Messy Activities for Sensory Play
Wash the Muddy Farm Animals by The Imagination Tree – Children can get the farm animals all dirty (with taste-safe “mud”), and then they can go back and wash the animals clean in some bubbly, soapy water.
Colored Ice Sensory Play by Learn Play Imagine – This colored ice can be put in a pool outside during hot weather, but it would do just as well in a sink, sensory bin, or sensory table inside. Explore the concept of “cold,” melting, and color mixing using this sensory play activity for toddlers.
Sticky Sensory Art Project by Hands On As We Grow – Kids can create their own sensory art with various materials such as gems, pompoms, tissue paper, beads, sequins, pipe cleaners, buttons—you name it! Even the sticky paper by itself provides a touch and sound sensory activity for toddlers!
Neon Taste Safe Finger Paints by I Heart Arts ‘N Crafts – Painting with their hands is a great sensory activity for toddlers and older kids, too! Who doesn’t love watching colors mix as you squish, spread, and smear slippery “paint?” These taste-safe paints are perfect for those little ones who still put things in their mouths.
Activities Perfect for a Sensory Table
Gorgeous Sensory Bins for Preschoolers – I love this wooden sensory box with its tiny details! It’s perfect for nurturing creativity, imagination, and outside-the-box thinking.
Rainbow Pasta Sensory Play by Still Playing School – Invite your toddlers to explore a tactile rainbow bin! They can touch, squish, and manipulate to their hearts’ content.
Duck Pond Sensory Play by Fantastic Fun and Learning – Who doesn’t love rubber ducks? Add them to a sensory water table full of pebbles, gems, driftwood, and aquarium plants to make a wonderful sensory activity for toddlers.
Toddler-Safe Play Sand by Fun-A-Day – Whip up a batch of this “sand” any time of the year for some fabulous hands-on play. Add toddler-safe sand toys to the mix for sensory exploration.
Exploring Herbs Outside by Happy Hooligans – Grab some water and some herbs for the kids. They can explore their senses of sight, touch, and smell inside or outside with this activity.
DIY Sensorial Activities for Toddlers
DIY Light Table – Toddlers will discover how objects of different textures and materials can look different when placed in front of a light. This fabulous sensory bin for toddlers is SO easy to make and you might already have everything you need at home!
Two-Step Vibrant Rainbow Rice – One of the most common sensory bin fillers is rice. It provides a soothing tactile experience for little fingers as is. Engage your child’s sense of sight by making your rice colourful with this simple, two-step method.
DIY Sensory Boards for Babies and Toddlers by Fun at Home with Kids – Put together sensory boards to engage your toddlers’ interests in exploring their senses.
Peek-A-Boo Sensory Board by Motherhood and Other Adventures – What a fun way to explore textures, especially since young children love to open and close things!
Sensory Blocks by Red Ted Art – Add new textures to the kids’ block building with these sensory blocks. You can use items that you already have on hand to make them, too.
Star Box by Where Imagination Grows – Babies and toddlers (and older kids, too!) will have a blast using their sense of sight with this star box. Cover or hide some lights with different materials so little ones can explore light further. Love that it just uses two materials, too!
Sensory Play that Two-Year-Olds Need to Experience
Rainbow Fine Motor Sensory Bin – A beautiful, colorful, quiet time box that is a feast for the senses with lots of different shapes and sizes to explore! Playing with all these beads, buttons, plastic eggs, and pipe cleaners is a sure way to really work those fine motor skills, too.
A Simple Nature Sensory Bin – You know me, the more immersion into nature, the better! My hope for this bin was that it would be soothing and relaxing with lovely things to smell, see, touch, and hear. It’s also a perfect for a sensory bag that you can take on the go!
DIY Rainstick Musical Sensory Bottle by Rhythms of Play – Toddlers can help put this musical sensory bottle together with rice and sticks. Once it’s assembled, they can explore their sense of hearing by shaking or tilting the bottle quickly or slowly.
Soapy Sensory Jars by Hands On As We Grow – Let the little ones explore soapy water without all the mess. These jars are sure to capture your toddler’s attention for quite some time.
Sensory Steps by Living Creatively – Let your toddler’s feet do some sensory exploration with these DIY steps. Explore what it means to be hard, soft, bumpy, smooth, squishy, brittle, and more. Some materials might even make noise when kids jump on them or rub their feet. I bet older kids would love using them for funny a game of hopscotch, too!
Sensory Bin Ideas for Seasonal Play
Easter Egg Sensory Play Activity – This activity is perfect for Easter sensory play. Toddlers can scrunch, tear, roll and squish tissues paper for a fabulous tactile experience!
Halloween Sensory Play – Another nature bin that includes one of my favorite elements—a sticky tree! Kids can explore the smaller elements of the bin, like rice, lentils, and beans, then add them to the sticky tree—or not!
Leafy Jack-o-Lantern – You can use colorful fall leaves as a sensory bin filler for any sensory activity for toddlers. Grab a marker and a sandwich bag and whip up a last-minute craft to boot!
Slippery Sledding Sensory Bin – We always have extra shaving cream on hand for craft projects, so this sensory play was easy to create—and super easy to clean up, too! Keeping that squishy goodness contained in a sensory box or sensory table keeps toddler and mama happy.
Christmas Sensory Bin – The holidays are a wonderful excuse to introduce all sorts of themed activities! This simple Christmas sensory activity for toddlers is full of rich opportunities to promote learning and development. All you need is rice, some painter’s tape, and festive items to stick to your sticky tree!
I hope you found a sensory activity or two just right for you and yours.
Thank you so much for reading friends, I hope to see you back here soon!
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your free visual playdough recipe!