11 Sensory Activities For Kids Of All Ages
File under "oddly satisfying," these sensory activities do double-duty: Half science experiment, half stress-buster.
Margo Gothelf and Sarah Burns
Babble Dabble Do
Sensory activities are a great way to build motor skills and dexterity—and they’re powerful stress relievers, too. These fun and therapeutic sensory activities can help kids (and adults) of all ages experiment, explore, and relax.
1. Edible Ocean Sensory Play
Fantastic Fun and Learning
Bring the ocean into your home with this edible ocean sensory activity. Fill up a deep baking sheet with blue gelatin and Swedish fish. Next, it’s time to go fishing! Let little ones use their hands to “go fishing” and see how many fish they can catch. Challenge older kids by only letting them use tongs or tweezers. Count all the fish up at the end of the activity and see how many each person caught!
2. Fluffy Cloud Dough
You’ll need just two ingredients to make this super fluffy cloud dough. Simply mix cornstarch and a scented conditioner of your choice. After some thorough kneading, the dough will be set and ready to be mushed and molded into shapes. If you want to keep the dough, make sure to store it in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out.
3. Oil and Water Sensory Bags
Everyday Chaos and Calm
These oil and water sensory bags are pretty much mess-free, making them great for an activity on the go. The oil and water combo creates lots of bubbles that keep kids engaged for hours. This activity is also great for babies who are just learning to sit. Simply tape the bag on the wall and let the bubbles move around. Your little one will love watching the liquids dance inside the bag, all while they strengthen those core muscles.
4. Oil and Water Sensory Bottles
Mix oil and water in recycled bottles to create bright-colored sensory bottles. The liquid's bright colors and soothing movements make these bottles almost like homemade lava lamps!
5. Ice Excavation
Sweet Lil You
Before bedtime, freeze small plastic toys in different shaped vessels—such as plastic food containers, cups, even foil cupcake liners. The following day, give your kids tools such as spoons, toothbrushes, or popsicle sticks to help free the toys. You can even give your kids salt and warm water to speed up the process (and include a small science lesson along the way!). Get the full rundown over on Sweet Lil You’s blog.
6. Magic Milk
Babble Dabble Do
Want to see milk dance? Just add a little dish soap and food coloring and watch it groove! The dish soap reacts with the milk to create an abstract pattern. Head to Babble Dabble Do to find out all of the details and see how to recreate this fun sensory activity.
7. Rainbow Rice
This rainbow rice sensory activity lets kids flex their fine motor skills and explore textures, all wrapped up in a coloring, visually stimulating experience. Dyeing the rice is pretty simple as well. Just add some food coloring to the rice, distribute it around a plastic bag, and let it bake for a few minutes on a sheet pan. Eating Richly has all of the details on her site.
8. Frozen Pom Poms
Happy Toddler Playtime
Freezing pom poms is an easy sensory activity that will keep young kids entertained for hours. Place a few pom poms in the freezer overnight in a plastic container. The next day, have your kids separate them using paintbrushes and warm water. You might want to save this one for the summer, as it can get a little messy for an indoor activity. If you keep it indoors, just make sure you have a towel nearby.
9. Easter Egg Rescue Sensory Bin
Happy Toddler Playtime
Practice those fine motor skills with this “egg rescue” sensory bin. Have kids use a large spoon or ladle to see how many eggs they can rescue. The catch? The bin is covered with masking tape in random spots, making it tricky to secure the eggs in a spoon. See the full tutorial on Happy Toddler Playtime’s blog.
10. Sensory Writing Tray
Messy Little Monster
Messy Little Monster’s sensory writing tray will help your kids practice writing their letters and numbers. Fill a tray with rainbow rice and give your child a paintbrush to use as a pen. Then, use flashcards or shout out numbers and letters to see how many they can write in the rice.
11. Rainbow Sensory Bags
If you are looking to work on your kid’s motor skills and pattern recognition, then this rainbow sensory bag is the perfect activity for them. In this rainbow activity, kids are focused on moving colored titles around to match the colors on the rainbow drawing. Watch Raising Dragon’s video on YouTube for the full breakdown of the activity.
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