toddler playing outside

During your kid’s toddler years, they absorb knowledge like a sponge, taking in as much information as they can to make sense of their surroundings. Apart from the usual reading and writing exercises, your kid can benefit from activities that let them actively explore their environment.

In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about sensory play. We’ll be covering what sensory play is and its advantages to your child’s development. We’ll also give you a list of fun sensory activities for toddlers that you can do at home.

What is Sensory Play?

Before we move on to the list of sensory activities, it’s important to understand what sensory play is. In simple terms, sensory play involves activities that stimulate and engage your child’s five senses—sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing.

This kind of learning occurs naturally during early childhood (0 to 8 years). You can observe this whenever your child curiously picks up an object. They take a look at it, feel its shape, and sometimes put it in their mouth. After all, children pick up knowledge more quickly when they play with the objects around them.

Sensory play introduces them to a new range of experiences, materials, and textures. Most sensory activities are geared towards touch, sight, and hearing senses since they are the most accessible senses.

Why is Sensory Play Important?

Sensory play can benefit your child’s development in multiple ways, such as the following:

Cognitive Skills 

For one, it allows your kid to learn more about the world by experimenting using their senses. As they interact with their surroundings, your kid uses their brain to create connections among different objects. This increases their capacity for complex thought.

Language Skills

Aside from cognitive skills, sensory play also enhances your kid’s language skills. When your kid explores using their senses, they also learn new words to describe what they are seeing, hearing, and feeling, among other things. This helps them better express themselves as they grow up.

Fine & Gross Motor Skills 

Sensory activities also enable children to learn with their whole bodies. It lets your toddler exercise their fine and gross motor skills whenever they play around with objects. Most sensory activities make use of repetitive movements to train your kid’s arm and hands.

Social Skills

Lastly, when done in groups, sensory activities encourage your kid to socialize with their peers. This helps them build and maintain strong friendships and improve their interpersonal skills.

Eight Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Sensory play offers a unique learning opportunity for your kids. If you’re looking for sensory activities that are suitable for your child’s age, then you’re in the right place. We’ve listed eight sensory play ideas and activities that your kid will surely enjoy. 

Sensory Bin

The sensory bin lets your child play around with objects of different shapes, sizes, and textures. For this activity, you can fill up a tub with different objects from nature such as leaves, rocks, and sand. You can also use dried food items like pasta, uncooked rice, and beans. Beads and buttons can also work for this bin.

Along with these, you can provide spoons, cups, and small toys that your kid can play with. They can pour the items in one cup and take them out as they like. This lets them explore the objects inside the container using their hands and helpful tools. Make sure to keep the items clean and supervise their playtime to avoid accidents.

Play Dough

Playdough offers an interesting way to stimulate your child’s sense of touch. Its soft and squishy texture can provide your kid with a new texture to feel. Get your kid’s hands working as they break the playdough into smaller pieces. They can also roll it around and mold it to whatever shape they like.

You can make your playdough at home with the materials you have. To make it more appealing to your kids, you can add scents and colors to the play dough. If you don’t have the time to make one, you can buy some premade dough instead.

Rainbow Glitter Jars

Do you have extra plastic jars or bottles lying around? You can upcycle those to make a colorful rainbow glitter jar. To make this, you need to fill your container with water. After that, you can add your choice of food dye and glitter. Once the mixture is complete, tightly shut the lid with clear glue.

The fun part is that you can make as many jars as you like. Your kid will surely enjoy playing with colorful and sparkly items that tickle their senses. They can shake the bottle and watch the glitter settle after it’s shaken.

Sensory Blocks

Add a twist to the usual building blocks with these sensory blocks. You can use wooden cubes and add new textures for a stimulating play session. You can attach a variety of textured items such as buttons, Velcro, felt paper, cotton, used fabrics, lace, and other items. Your toddler can touch and feel different textures while stacking up these building blocks.

Sandbox

If you have extra space outside your house, like your backyard, you can install a small sandbox for your kids. In that sandbox, you can add toddler-friendly sand along with shovels, buckets, and other toys. Let your kid’s imaginations run wild as they build, dig, and play with the sand.

If you don’t have enough space outdoors, you can simply use a container of your choice and fill it with sand. Make sure it has enough space to let your kid’s hands roam around freely.

Water Play

If you’re looking for games to beat the summer heat, then you’re in for a treat! Create a refreshing sensory experience with this water play activity. It allows your kid to explore how water works using their whole bodies. This makes the perfect introduction to liquids and the concept of wetness.

You can use an inflatable kiddie pool for this activity. Aside from water, you can also place cups, balls, and other items for your kids to explore. If you don’t have a pool, you can use tubs or pots of water and let your kids splash to their heart’s content.

Sound Tubes

Let your kid play around with different sounds using sound tubes. To make this, you’ll need empty paper towel rolls, duct tape, and a variety of items to fill up your tubes. You can use rice, beans, beads, and a whole bunch of other objects that create sounds. Fill each tube with one material and secure the ends with duct tape. Your kids can shake and roll these to their liking. 

Sensory Steps

Kids who love running and jumping will surely enjoy playing with these sensory steps. This activity lets your kid explore different textures using their feet. Your kid can build their gross motor skills as they hop and take small or large steps.

To make this, you need to cut out cardboards that are big enough for your kid to step on. After this, add different textured materials such as old fabrics, sponge, plastic, and bubble wrap to the cardboards. Once you’re done, you can place the textured cardboards at different distances.

Stimulate Your Kid’s Senses with Sensory Play for Toddlers

It’s often said that kids learn best through play, and various studies would agree with that. Sensory play lets children explore their surroundings by stimulating their five senses. It improves their cognitive, language, motor, and overall development.

For more exciting activities for your little ones, read our blog today.