50+ Affordable Sensory Play Activities for Children's Brain Development (2024)

Table of Contents
Playdough Easiest Playdough Recipe Softest Playdough Ever Lavender Playdough Herb and Spice Playdough Beach Dough Baby Safe Cloud Dough Playdough Soap Painting Cotton Ball Painting Jell-O Finger Painting Salt Paint Bubble Wrap Painting for Babies Foot Painting with Bubble Wrap Shaving Cream Painting Painting with Nature Discovery and Sensory Bottle Ideas Gem, Beads and Sequin Sensory Bottle Magnetic Discovery Bottle Rainbow Sensory Bottle Sky Sensory Bottle Sensory Bins Farm Animal Washing Station Jello-O Foam Soap Messy Play Tray with Lavender Sensory Rice Button Tree Sensory Ideas for Preschool Construction Sensory Bin Ideas for Toddlers Pondercreative play activities Drinking Straw Sensory Water Play Ideas for Preschool Sensory bags Water Bead Sensory Activity DIY Sensory Bag Rainbow Sensory Bag Baby Sensory Activity Eye Spy Sensory Bag Sun Catcher Sensory Bag Slime, Putty and Goop Jungle Slime Alphabet SoupEdible ABC Slime One Ingredient Rainbow Slime DIY Floam Rainbow Goop Soapy Goop Lemon Suds Edible Sensory Diet and Activities Edible Sand Edible Sensory Activities Edible Rainbow Oats Edible Playdough Baby Safe Edible Water Beads Edible Moon Sand Sensory Boards Fabric Frame Boards Touch and Feel Color Cards Busy Sensory Board fro Babies and Toddlers Mermaid Fabric Board Upcycle Bit and Pieces into a Sensory Board Sensory Mats Squishy Stress balls Water Bead Balloons Heart Stress Toy Wacky Sensory Sacks Emoji Stress Balls Sensory (Kinetic) Sand Shaving Cream Foam Sand Sticky Sand Epsom Salt Sand

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Are you looking for the best sensory activities for preschoolers or older kids? Meraki Mother’s ultimate list of sensory activities for kids of all ages will give you tons of ideas!

Sensory activities involve hands-on playing through touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, moving and hearing. These activities enhance learning while stimulating the child’s senses.

Sensory play lays an important foundation for later learning skills. It doesn’t only helps a child to differentiate sharp from round, smooth from rough and cold from warm but also helps them verbalize the various sensations they feel. Many activities are also considered calming and therapeutic.

Sensory activities also naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while creating, playing, investigating and exploring. This is a basic step in empowering the brain’s ability to discover, classify and sort more complex information later in life.

Therefore, providing opportunities for sensory play is crucial to children’s brain development.

The good thing is that there are hundreds of ways that kids can learn through sensory play, possibilities are in fact endless!

We have created a comprehensive list for you to get inspired, most are sensory play adults can set up today with things around the house. Enjoy!

Click on the activity to go straight to the tutorial!

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Contents

Playdough

Perhaps the most popular and easily accessible, playdough activities play an important part in sensory and fine motor skill development. Homemade play dough recipes will provide different scents and textures discovery as well as creative play opportunity for kids of all ages. All of the following DIY playdough recipes are made using super-quick instructions.

Easiest Playdough Recipe

Not your grandma’s playdough! Thissimple playdough recipe without cream of tartar uses no salt, no flour, doesn’t require baking and of course doesn’t use cream of tartar.

Itdoesn’t get any easier than that! This easy playdough recipe only requires three ingredients you probably already have at home.

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Softest Playdough Ever

Made with only two simple ingredients this dough is so soft it is also called cloud dough. Click to get the softest playdough recipe here.

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Lavender Playdough

This Lavender Playdough recipeis a great sensory learning experience as well as having a calming effect during play.

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Need some Essential Oil inspiration for your next scented playdough recipe click here.

Herb and Spice Playdough

These beautiful and natural play doughs are easy and smell amazing! You can use whatever natural herbs and dyes you have on hand for these.

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Beach Dough

Kneading and creating with playdough are considered calming sensory activities. This beach dough is an excellent option for summer season.

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Baby Safe Cloud Dough

I love this baby safe cloud dough! So easy to make and totally edible!

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Playdough Soap

Are you guilty of spending hundreds of bucks on LUSH bath playdough? I know I am. That stuff is expensive! That’s why I love this homemade playdough soap! And the best part is that there’s absolutely no cleanup! Goodbye mess down the drain!

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Painting

Playful painting is a fine motor skill activity and an open ended creative sensory experience where the process is more important than the final product. It provides opportunity for the kids to experience color, temperature and texture of paint.

Cotton Ball Painting

This is so simple to do at home but also great assensory classroom ideas. A fantasticsensory integration activities for adults and kids.

Need to top up your paint supplies? Find best prices on kid-friendly paint here.

Jell-O Finger Painting

Do your kids love finger painting, but also love to eat paint? These also make the perfectsensory play ideas for babies.Let them paint with these awesome Jell-Ol-o finger paints!

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Salt Paint

A mix of fine motor andtexture activities for toddlers in one go! Simple sensoryplay materials for toddlers.

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Bubble Wrap Painting for Babies

I love any non messy play ideas for babies under 1. You can set up this baby sensory game using some bubble wrap and paint, so easy!

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Don’t have any bubble wrap at home? Buy bubble wrap here.

Foot Painting with Bubble Wrap

Sensory motor activities are super important during early childhood. This is a great idea for foot painting.

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Shaving Cream Painting

Sense of touch activities for preschool are always fun. Add that little extra texture with this simple recipe.

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Painting with Nature

What a great way to improve interaction with nature, make these nature paint brushes today and have lots of fun with the kids.

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Discovery and Sensory Bottle Ideas

Sensory bottles are any container filled with different materials as a way to encourage kids discovery. Bottles are a totally non-messy sensory activity and great for trips or any time that you wish to keep mess to a minimum. Sensory bottles are early childhood friendly and children-safe, as they don’t have any contact with the materials.

Gem, Beads and Sequin Sensory Bottle

Calming non messy play ideas are the best, agree? Make a few bottles like this shine one here and you will have a great collection of sensory ideas for infants.

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Click here to top up your bead and glitter supplies.

Magnetic Discovery Bottle

If you want to make your own sensory toys for toddlers these discovery bottles are a great idea! Playing with the magnets and bottles will be great sensory activities for 2 year olds and will inspire curiosity.

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Rainbow Sensory Bottle

The recipe for success? Non messy play recipes! Who would not want to play with these cute rainbow discovery bottles? You can also use these bottle as science sensory activities for preschoolers.

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Sky Sensory Bottle

One of the cutest sensory stimulation activities you can make.

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PIN FOR LATER!

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Sensory Bins

Sensory bins or sensory containers are perfect for containing messy play for kids. Add your materials to your sensory tray ideas and it will only contain the mess, not the fun! Here are some sensory bin ideas for toddlers and kids of all age.

Farm Animal Washing Station

This farm animal toddler activity stationis a great outdoor activity!

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Looking for some outdoor sensory fun? Why not grow your own vegetables in any space with these container vegetable garden ideas.

Jello-O Foam Soap

If you think sensory play is just a big messy play party, think twice! This hands-on activity is full of possibilities, simple to put together and will make for hours of play fun.

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Messy Play Tray with Lavender Sensory Rice

This lavender sensory play rice is great for helping to relax kids. It’s beautiful and will make your house smell good too!

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Button Tree Sensory Ideas for Preschool

Greatsensory table ideas for older kids.

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Buy some bright and fun buttons here.

Construction Sensory Bin Ideas for Toddlers

Boys and girls will love preschool sensory bins such as this one!

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Pondercreative play activities

With the right materials you can also set up creativesensory activities for children like this life pond tray.

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Drinking Straw Sensory Water Play Ideas for Preschool

Water and straw, how easy can this be? Seriously one of the easiest ideas forsensory bins for toddlers.

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Sensory bags

Sensory Bags are a absolutely perfect to entertain babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers that still put things in their mouth. It is mess free and still gives them the opportunity to explore different textures while developing and learning. These bags give you the opportunity to add anything that may be topical to your classroom, season or of interest of the kids.

Water Bead Sensory Activity

Looking for Non messy play ideas for 1 year old?This is one of the best sensory activities for toddlers and babies. This water bead sensory activity window is so much fun! Not only does it feel super cool, but it looks so pretty! And the best part is that little ones who love putting water beads in their mouths are kept safe, while still being able to play with them.

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Buy water beads for sensory play here.

DIY Sensory Bag

Sensory bags are great to take on the go with you to keep baby occupied at any time. These are super easy to make and super durable!

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Rainbow Sensory Bag

These rainbow bags are brilliant sensory activities for toddlers and infants.

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Baby Sensory Activity

If you are worried about mess through sensory activities for babies, this one here will easy your mind.

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Eye Spy Sensory Bag

Eye spy sensory activities for preschoolers are simple but brilliant to integrate both learning and play.

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Sun Catcher Sensory Bag

Using bags as sensory play ideas is definitely one of our favorite. I love this sun catcher idea.

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PIN FOR LATER!

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Slime, Putty and Goop

Making slime, putty and goop is an awesome science demonstration and sensory play activity for kids. And the best? They can be easily and quickly made at home or school. Definitely a great addition to your preschool sensory table. Look at these great recipes below.

Jungle Slime

This simple jungle slime is so colorful and fun. Kids will love making it AND playing with it. Throw in some cute little animals and let their imaginations soar! This will be a hit on yourpreschool sensory table.

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Alphabet SoupEdible ABC Slime

I love this edible alphabet slime soup because it combines some of my favorite things: edible water beads and learning ABC’s!

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One Ingredient Rainbow Slime

One ingredient slime! Yes please!

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DIY Floam

Floam!! Another really expensive product that can easily be made at home. Who knew that foam beads had so many uses! Make thismessy play table today.

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Rainbow Goop

I love creative play activities. It is impossible not to get mesmerized by the colors.

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Soapy Goop

The texture is just amazing. Great messysensory table activities toddlers.

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Lemon Suds

These lemon suds are a great outdoor sensory activity! You can add whatever colors you like or any other scents you like.

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Edible Sensory Diet and Activities

Sensory activities for kids are not only fun but they can be tasty! These edible sensory plays and activities are good for every kid but specially for the young ones!

Edible Sand

I’ve raised several babies in Hawaii and there’s one thing they love to do at the beach….eat sand! This edible sand is fantastic because it’s totally ok if your babies chow down!

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Edible Sensory Activities

What’s better than sensory activities? Sensory activities that you can EAT! This fun activity only requires Jell-O and these super cheap ice ball makersSome of the coolest sensory table ideas for preschool.

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Edible Rainbow Oats

These fun and pretty rainbow dyed oats are an easy and affordable sensory experience for babies. You’ll just need oats and food coloring! This is a great forsensory bins for 1 year old as it is edible.

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Edible Playdough

This simple, edible playdough is one of the best sensory activities for toddlers who love to put things in their mouths. Totally edible and totally tasty!

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Baby Safe Edible Water Beads

Love water beads, but have babies who like to eat them? Fear not! These baby-safe, edible water beads will be perfect for you!

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Edible Moon Sand

This edible moon sand is so different from any other sensory recipe I’ve ever made! Crazy ingredients, but crazy cool! One of the bestearly years messy play ideas I have seen!

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Sensory Boards

Sensory boards provide hands-on activity to help young kids to explore and learn about different objects, texture, sounds etc. They present many benefits, are super fun and can also be made using bits and pieces from your house. Find here some of great sensory board inspiration.

Fabric Frame Boards

These beautiful fabric boards are great to make if you’ve got extra fabric lying around or extra frames for that matter. And the best part? Totally non-messy activities for babies.Just be sure to remove the glass! Let kids feel the different textures of each fabric. It’s also great for learning their colors.

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Buy different sizedframes here.

Touch and Feel Color Cards

Sensory play is vital to early childhood development. You can create these cards in under 20 minutes and for less than a few dollars.

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Busy Sensory Board fro Babies and Toddlers

Busy sensory boards are always a hit with kids. They love the different things to play and the hands-on tactile objects are excellent to explore and manipulate.

Mermaid Fabric Board

This is a marvelous therapeutic activity that even adults would enjoy. So simple for children to touch and explore.

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Best prices for Mermaid Fabriccan be found here.

Upcycle Bit and Pieces into a Sensory Board

How fun is it to upcycle materials from around the house and make something so clever and enjoyable for the kids. Use boards, old magnets you already have, touch lights, add velcro or anything that you can get your hands on.

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Sensory Mats

A very affordable activity. Truly anyone can make a sensory floor, mat, carpet or wall with a bit of creativity. These DIY sensory boards are great for autism, SPD, Alzheimer’s and for anyone in the house or office in need of creative stimulation!

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PIN FOR LATER!

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Squishy Stress balls

These sensory activities are great for adults too. They help relieve stress while working your hand muscles. Why get some of the boring ready-made balls if you can make your own at home? Here are some of our favorite sensory stress balls for you to make today.

Water Bead Balloons

Water beads again! Can you tell I LOVE water beads? They’re just so fun and squishy! I seriously can’t get enough. And they are also super CHEAP! I bought a giant bag two years ago and we are still going through it! This is another great sensory activity for little ones who like to put water beads in their mouths!

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Heart Stress Toy

Easy tutorial on how to make a homemade stress ball using heart balloons.

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Wacky Sensory Sacks

What a cute idea! Great sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers.

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Emoji Stress Balls

One of the best stress ball for kids that I have seen! You can decorate these squishy balls in so many ways.

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Sensory (Kinetic) Sand

Shaving Cream Foam Sand

My kids LOVE kineticsand, but dang that stuff is so expensive!! Why not make your own with this Shaving Cream Foam Sand.

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Sticky Sand

Kids can play with sand every day of the year regardless of the season. Check this sticky sand sensory bin idea.

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Epsom Salt Sand

Sand is a very simple sensory play activity for kids of all ages from infants to older kids. But why not to make it even more interesting and add some color? This Epsom salt rainbow sand tutorial is so easy.

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Looking for more ways to entertain children? Head over to our50 Ways to Keep Children Happy Without Spending a Dimefor more ideas.

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50+ Affordable Sensory Play Activities for Children's Brain Development (2024)
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