32 Sensory Activities for Toddlers- Learning Through Play (2024)

Ever wondered why your toddler is obsessedwith squishing mud, splashing puddles, and flinging pasta everywhere? They’re not just being messy (okay, sometimes they are!), but they’re also exploring the world through their senses!

The reason behind your baby’s messy actions is actually their drive to explore and investigate the new world around them. In simple words, as babies grow, they learn to interact with the environment using their senses, which slowly starts maturing their sensory skills.

While sensory skills are a natural development, as parents or caregivers, you can still help the process by engaging your little one in sensory toddler activities. Although toddler sensory play has been around for a long period of time, as new parents, you might still be wondering what exactly the term entails.

What is Sensory Play for Toddlers?

Sensory play or sensory activity for toddlers is all about engaging your baby’s senses through activities and exploration.It’s a crucial part of their development, helping them learn and grow in various ways!

Think of it as a play that stimulates all of your toddler’s senses: sight, touch, smell, taste, sound, and motor skills; balance; and spatial awareness. These are the senses that a toddler primarily uses to interact with the world.

You should know that everything toddlers experience is new information to them and their senses help them make sense of the new world they are in. Thus, sensory activities are extremely crucial for these little humans’ development and are much needed to grow up and become healthy.

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Why is toddler sensory play important?

The first three years of a baby’s life are extremely influential. In this stage, they are able to consume vast amounts of information and start building their understanding of the world. At such a phase, toddler sensory play helps them in the following areas:

– Development of their senses: The brain forms connections through sensory experiences, refining how toddlers perceive whatever they come across.

– Learning and exploration: It engages curiosity and encourages them to investigate, experiment, and ask questions.

– Skill Building: Sensory play supports language development, motor skills (both fine and gross), cognitive growth, and social interaction.

– Managing emotions: Sensory games and activities can be calming for some toddlers while offering an outlet for energy and sensory needs for others.

Now, to move on to actual examples of sensory activities for little toddlers, this article will cover the following:

  • Sensory Activities For Toddlers To Stimulate Sense Of Touch And Sight
  • Toddler Sensory Activities To Stimulate Sense Of Smell And Sound
  • Sensory Ideas For Toddlers To Stimulate Sense Of Taste
  • Sensory Games For Toddlers To Stimulate Motor Skills And Spatial Awareness
  • Sensory Activities For 2-Year-Olds
  • Sensory Activities For 3-Year-Olds
  • Sensory Activities For Preschoolers

Let’s get started and enhance your baby’s senses with the best toddler sensory activities:

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Sensory Activities for Toddler Development

This article is packed with over 32 easy-to-do toddler sensory activities, perfect for little hands and curious minds. We’ll show you how to turn everyday items into sensory play, unlock your child’s imagination, and help them learn and grow in ways you never thought possible!

1. Playdough Creations

Handling playdough is among the most common and fun sensory activities for toddlers over the age of 11 months and older. At this stage, babies can respond to different colors and to enhance the same, multicolored and non-toxic playdough can be given to them.

You can offer them assorted tools like cookie cutters and rolling pins to squish, mold, and shape the doubt. This activity will stimulate both their senses of touch as well as sight.

If you are worried about them eating the playdough, just make some cookie dough at home and mix it with food coloring to reduce any chance of them falling sick.

2. Sensory Bins

This is yet another play that encourages sensory exploration for toddlers and is also often recommended for its positive effect on the development of sense of touch and motor skills.

What you need to do is fill a bucket, basket, or box with items of different textures, colors, and sizes. The items can be leaves, rocks, sand, or food items like rice, pasta, dried beans, and cups to scoop them.

The object of this is to make the toddler dig through the items and discover new textures and shapes and how to hold and deal with them.

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3. Nature Walk and Texture Exploration

Head outdoors and venture on a sensory adventure! Encourage your toddler to collect smooth pebbles, feathery leaves, and crunchy twigs. Back home, sort the treasures by texture and create collages with glue and construction paper.

Ask your toddler to describe how they feel while touching different things. This will also help their language and self-expression skills.

4. Look at Picture Books

One of the most easy sensory activities for toddlers is reading picture books together! Make a routine of showing your baby some picture books of animals, vegetables, fruits, etc. Point at each picture and ask them to speak the names aloud.

Continuing this will help your baby form associations between words and sounds. Eventually, they should be able to point at the picture themselves when you tell them the name.

5. Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

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Babies love mirrors, and toddlers are no exception! This is one of the best sensory play ideas that stimulate a toddler’s awareness of their self and their sight.

It is honestly fascinating to watch a toddler discover things about themselves through a mirror because, as funny as it may sound, a little human doesn’t even know that they have hands.

Set up a multi-sided mirror maze or create a sensory wall with reflective surfaces like foil, shiny fabrics, and polished metal. Observe their fascination as they explore their reflections and the distorted world around them.

6. Light Show

Dim the lights and transform your living room into a magical wonderland with flashlights, lava lamps, and glow sticks. Create shadow puppets on the wall, tell stories with colored cellophane filters over flashlights, or dance under the shimmering lights.

7. Make a Sensory Toy out of Plastic Bottles

What is a better form of sight stimulation than something that combines colors and lights? If you have plastic bottles lying around in your home, then instead of throwing them away, upcycle them into mesmerizing sensory toys.

Fill them with water, food coloring, glitter, beads, small toys, or even nature treasures like leaves and feathers. Fill some of the bottles with battery-operated string lights of different shapes.

Seal the lids tightly, and let your toddler shake, roll, and tilt the bottles, mesmerized by the swirling colors and moving objects.

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Toddler Sensory Activities To Stimulate Sense Of Sound

If you’re looking for activities that will stimulate your baby’s auditory senses, spark their creativity, and help them develop listening skills in a way that’s both fun and engaging, here are some ideas:

8. Instruments from Home

Turn everyday objects into musical instruments. Let your baby shake rice-filled maracas made from plastic containers, drum on pots and pans with wooden spoons, or squeeze squeaky toys to create whistles.

Just like this, you can use several household items to encourage your toddler to experiment with different sounds and create their own mini-concert.

9. Dancing Sessions

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Dancing is an activity that requires the coordination of several different muscle groups in the body. Play some upbeat music and have a dancing session with your toddler where you clap, jump, wiggle, and stomp along to the rhythm.

Lead your toddler into imitating you and dancing along with the beat of the song. Who knows, maybe they will grow up to be a great dancer!

10. Guess the Sound

Teach your toddler the sounds of various objects dropping, such as a pencil, a ball, a spoon, or the sound of wind chimes. Then ask them to close their eyes and guess the item you’re dropping. Do not expect accuracy at all and just make sure the process is fun for them.

You can also use the same method to teach them the sounds of animals from YouTube, as well as the sounds of everyday things like thunder, rain, instruments, etc.

For kids who are sensitive to certain sounds, try not to expose them to those sounds or it may spoil their fun.

11. Sound Tubes

Create sound tubes for your toddlers to help them connect to the auditory world around them!

It’s simple to do so. All you need to do is save some small cardboard boxes from your express delivery or your toilet paper rolls. Next, fill these boxes/rolls with a variety of items, such as uncooked rice, small beads, or stones.

Make these in a way that when your baby shakes the boxes, different kinds of sounds are produced. Make sure you seal the open ends with duct tape to make them toys they can play with for auditory processing.

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Sensory Ideas For Toddlers To Stimulate Sense Of Smell and Taste

Below we’re listing down simple, fun activities that will have your little foodie sniffing with curiosity, giggling with delight, and maybe even learning a new favorite flavor or two!

12. Baking Bonanza

Baking involves a lot of ingredients of different smells and you can teach about them while you bake, like what is vanilla, chocolate, etc. Make your toddler taste the different ingredients and ask them to tell you their favorites. It will be a good sensory exploration of their smell and taste, as well as a core memory for you to cherish.

To be honest, letting your toddlers near food will almost certainly result in a mess that will need deep cleaning. But do not be afraid of the mess that comes with your toddler’s growth and try to involve them in the baking process anyway!

13. Fragrances of Nature

Nature is the best source of diverse scents that you can utilize to teach your toddler about different aromas! Transform a simple walk in the park into an enriching outdoor sensory stimulant for your little one.

Collect fragrant flowers, leaves, herbs, stones, etc. Put them on the park bench or in your hand and ask your toddler to pick and smell each. Help them describe the smell and talk to them about where the smell comes from, connecting sensory experiences to the natural world.

14. Guess The Fruit Challenge

As your baby grows into a toddler, they will be more receptive to some tastes than others. To help them form associations between what they are eating and their names, first make them taste different fruits and repeat the names slowly to them.

Then ask them to shut their eyes and recall the names according to what is now given to them. Again, do not expect accuracy right away, as they will learn it at their own pace.

You can also repeat this method with other food items, which are readily available in your kitchen.

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15. Make A Simple Snack Together

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This is one of the best sensory activities for toddlers at home that is better suited for kids who have some basic fine and gross motor skills.

Make your kitchen child-safe by removing sharp and inedible items and then employ your toddler’s help while you make a snack together. Ask them to get you the needed ingredients and make them pour the same into bowls or glasses.

Ask them to taste certain items and describe them to you. They will learn new names, tastes, and better motor skills with this activity!

Sensory Games For Toddlers To Stimulate Motor Skills And Spatial Awareness

Do you want to try some simple, fun activities that will have your little one jumping, crawling, and giggling their way to stronger muscles, better coordination, and a whole lot of spatial smarts? Here are some great ideas:

16. Puzzles

Depending on the age and abilities of your toddler, different types of puzzles can hone their skills of spatial awareness or the sense of self, with respect to one’s environment.

For younger kids, shape shifters, jigsaw puzzles, 3D puzzles, and shape and nesting puzzles are good options. While older kids (2.5–3 years old) can benefit from puzzles like Mental Blox.

17. Obstacle Course

This is an occupational therapy that all kids love. The ability to find their way through an obstacle requires very fine spatial awareness skills as well as muscle coordination.

Use different items from your home to create obstacles so that the toddler has to perform activities like crawling, climbing, and following a laid-out path to maneuver through them.

18. Find The Toy

“Find the toy” is among some very sensory activities for kids where you hide one of your toddler’s favorite toys and have them look for it. Use verbal directional instructions to help them find the toy without assistance.

Kids who have started talking may not understand complicated directions, so you can say things like the car is under the sofa. For older kids, you can blindfold them and direct them in steps like, “Take 1 step forward and then three to your right.”

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Sensory Activities For 2 Year Olds

We know, your two-year-old is a whirlwind of energy and curiosity, exploring the world with wide eyes and busy hands every single second! But don’t worry, you can direct all of your toddler’s energy into sensory play for 2 year olds.

Here are some great sensory activities for kids:

19. Water Play

Kids love to play in water so you can use it as a good sensory play for 2 year olds. They love to splash, pour, and explore the different textures and temperatures of water!

To make it more fun, you can fill up a tub with water and let them play around, or give them cups and bowls to pour water from one container to another.

This can not only enhance their sensory skills but also improve their hand-eye coordination. Moreover, playing with water can be a great way to make bathtime more enjoyable and exciting for kids. So, next time you are looking for a fun activity for your little ones, consider blending water play into your routine.

20. Finger Painting

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Finger painting can be a messy but colorful sensory craft for toddlers to enjoy. It is a great approach to help little artists explore, learn, and develop their craft skills through sensory play.

Finger painting engages several senses, as kids can feel the cool and squishy texture of the paint as well as experiment with colors and patterns however they like. The more they play with crafty items, the more it will boost their creativity as well as encourage self-expression.

21. Bubble Wrap

Popping bubble wrap is one of those simple pleasures in life that people of all ages enjoy. And for toddlers, it can be an exhilarating and stimulating experience!

The sound and feel of the bubbles popping can be very intriguing to a young child, and it can provide a sense of accomplishment and joy as they work their way through the sheet of bubbles.

Moreover, popping bubble wrap isn’t just a fun activity; it’s also a great way for toddlers to develop their fine motor skills. As they carefully hold the sheet of thin plastic and pick and choose which bubbles to pop, they are using their fingers and hands in a precise and controlled way.

This can help improve their hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and overall motor skills, which will be valuable as they continue to grow and develop.

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Sensory Activities For 3 Year Olds

For 3-year-olds, sensory activities play a crucial role in their cognitive, emotional, and physical development! Engaging their senses through simple yet stimulating sensory toddler activities not only fosters creativity but also enhances their understanding of the world around them.

Let’s explore some delightful sensory activities tailored for the curious minds and growing senses of 3-year-olds:

22. Playdough Made Interesting

You can add different materials to playdough to make it more interesting for 3-year-olds. You can add glitter, small toys, or even scents to the playdough to engage their senses even more!

23. Clay Sculpting

One of the most easy sensory activities for a three-year-old can be sculpting shapes with edible clay. Toddlers of this age have a fair idea about the shapes of basic everyday things.

Ask them to make the shapes they remember using the clay and also give names to their creations. Other than that, they can even try making shapes of other things they see at the moment, such as a bowl, a tumbler, a dog, a bus, etc.

24. Sensory Playdates

Frequent playdates with other kids are important for toddlers, as they can interact with kids their own age and learn social interaction. These playdates can be made into a hub of sensory exploration for three-year-olds!

Organize playdates with sensory-focused activities like making homemade slime, building forts with different textures, or playing with sensory bins, etc.

25. Fun With Bubble Foam

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This is a fun and messy sensory activity for little toddlers. You can squirt shaving cream on a table or tray and let your child use their fingers to create designs and patterns.

The same can be done with bubble foam. It will be of a similar texture to that of shaving cream and be an immensely fun kind of play for your kid. But be mindful of them and prevent kids from accidentally eating it.

Sensory Activities For Preschoolers

Preschoolers are like sponges, eagerly soaking up knowledge and experiences as they steer through the world around them!

Sensory activities are not only enjoyable for preschoolers but also essential for their holistic development. By engaging their senses, preschoolers can refine their motor skills, enhance language development, and deepen their understanding of the world.

Here are the best sensory preschool activities for your kids:

26. Kinetic Sand Plays

Kinetic sand is a fascinating type of sand that is designed to stick together and can be molded in countless ways, making it a perfect play material for kids. It’s no wonder that it has become so popular with preschoolers, who love to explore and experiment with different textures and shapes.

The sand’s unique properties make it an excellent sensory material that can help children develop their tactile and fine motor skills. Plus, it’s just plain fun to play with!

27. Tactile Sticks

The tactile stick is not just a fascinating sensory play for preschoolers; it is also a great hands-on way to learn counting. And the best part is that you can use items that are already in your house for this play.

All you need are some popsicle sticks and whatever craft item you have lying around, such as beads, tiny pompoms, googly eyes, small bows, buttons, etc. Stick the items on the sticks and let your toddler count the number of sticks or items on each stick, as well as explore the different textures and colors.

28. Sensory Science Experiments

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Conducting simple science experiments involving sensory exploration can be a fun and educational activity for kids of all ages. Some examples of such experiments include mixing colors, making slime, or exploring sinking and floating!

These sensory ideas can help children develop their fine motor skills, learn about cause and effect, and enhance their creativity and curiosity about the world around them.

Mixing colors, for instance, can teach kids about primary and secondary colors, while making slime can introduce them to the properties of polymers and chemical reactions.

Exploring sinking and floating can help kids understand the concepts of buoyancy and density. Overall, science experiments involving sensory play ideas can be a great way to engage kids in hands-on learning and foster their love of science and discovery.

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Sensory Crafts for Toddlers

Let’s dive into a world of colorful, tactile experiences tailor-made for your curious toddler!

29. Texture Collage

Provide your toddler a variety of textured materials such as cotton balls, sandpaper scraps, tissue paper, and fabric scraps. Help them glue these materials onto a piece of cardboard or paper to create a textured collage. This activity encourages sensory exploration and creativity.

30. Sensory Bag Painting

Place a sheet of paper inside a large ziplock bag and also squeeze small amounts of paint onto the paper. Seal the bag tightly and let your toddler explore the paint by pressing and smudging it from outside using their fingers, creating colorful designs without the mess.

31. Sock Puppet

Fill a clean sock with rice, beans, or lentils to create a sensory puppet. Use markers, googly eyes, and fabric scraps to decorate the puppet’s face. Your toddler can squeeze and manipulate the puppet while engaging their sense of touch.

32. Rainbow Rice Art

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Dye rice using food coloring to create a rainbow of colors. Provide your toddler with glue and paper, then let them create colorful rice art by sticking the dyed rice onto the paper in various patterns and designs!

Things to Keep in Mind While Making your Toddlers engage in sensory playtime!

Here are a few tips for parents and caregivers :

Choose age-appropriate sensory activitiesand supervise closely, especially during taste exploration. Make sure the toys and tools are not sharp, toxic, or come with choking hazard warning.

Instead of directing what to do, let your toddler lead the way. Let them explore at their own pace and choose toddler sensory activities they enjoy.

Utilize household items or inexpensive materials to create sensory experiences if buying toys is not always possible.

Make it a learning experience by talking about what toddlers are feeling, seeing, smelling, etc., using descriptive language.

Most importantly, have fun! Sensory play should be enjoyable for both you and your little one and never feel like a chore to you.

FAQs

During sensory playtime with your toddler, several questions may run over your head about the activities you’re permforming. So, here are some FAQs when you’re trying sensory activities for toddlers for the first time!

1. How can sensory activities benefit my child’s development?

Sensory activities engage multiple senses, promoting cognitive, physical, and emotional growth in children. They enhance sensory processing skills, fine and gross motor skills, language development, and social interaction.

2. Are sensory activities suitable for children with sensory processing disorders or special needs?

Yes, sensory activities can be adapted to meet the needs of children with sensory processing disorders or special needs. By providing sensory input in a controlled and supportive environment, these activities can help regulate sensory responses and improve sensory integration.

3. How can I incorporate sensory activities into my child’s daily routine?

You can integrate sensory activities into your child’s daily routineby setting aside dedicated time for sensory play, merging sensory elements into everyday activities like mealtime or bath time, and creating sensory-rich environments both indoors and outdoors.

4. Are there any safety considerations I should keep in mind when engaging in sensory activities with my child?

While sensory activities are generally safe and beneficial, it’s essential to supervise children during play to ensure they don’t ingest or choke on small objects and to prevent accidents or injuries.

Make sure you use non-toxic materials, be mindful of allergies, and adapt activities to suit your child’s developmental level and abilities!

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