5 Sensory Activities to do at Home
Sensory play is a valuable learning experience, especially for young children. It provides countless benefits, such as promoting cognitive growth, enhancing fine motor skills, and improving concentration. Sensory play supports language development, builds social skills, and encourages problem-solving. It can also provide endless hours of fun!
Providing sensory play opportunities can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, there is a misconception that enriching sensory activities for your little one need to include specialized materials or require a lot of time and space. The good news is sensory play is just as effective when you use simple, easy to find materials in your house or outdoors! Check out these five engaging sensory activities that are easy to do at home!
1. Coloured Rice
Creating a sensory bin of coloured rice is both simple and fun! All you need is white, uncooked rice, vinegar, food colouring, and sealable bags. Add 1 cup of rice, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and a few drops of food colouring to the bag. Close the bag tightly and squish it around. Make as many colours as you’d like! Once the rice is dyed completely, leave it in the open bag for a few hours to dry. Then pour the rice into a bowl or bin, add a few kitchen utensils, and you’re ready to play!
Oobleck provides an amazing sensory experience as it squishes and oozes. Pour 1 cup of cornstarch into a bowl. Mix a few drops of food colouring with ¾ cup of water and add it to the cornstarch. Have your child use their hands to combine the ingredients. Notice Oobleck is solid when it is in the bowl or when you smack it with a spoon, but it will slide like liquid when you pick it up!
Clean up advice: Be sure to scrape the Oobleck into the compost or garbage when you are finished playing with it. While it may appear liquid, you don’t want to flush it or put it down the drain!
3. Scented Playdough
Playdough is a popular sensory activity because it is so easy to make and fun to play with. Combine 1 cup of flour, ½ cup of salt, ½ cup of warm water, and food colouring. For an added sensory experience, spice up your homemade playdough using ingredients found in your kitchen. Applesauce, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, lemon juice, vanilla, or lavender oil are all great options. You can try making “stinky” playdough using onion or garlic powder!
4. Farmyard Bin
This sensory bin is immersive and fun to put together. Fill a bin or bowl with popcorn kernels, dry black beans, or dry oats. Then add small shovels, rakes, toy tractors, and farm animals. If you don’t have any toy farm animals at home, have your child draw pictures or print and cut them out! Children can engage in sensory and imaginative play scooping the corn kernels, looking for the animals, and making animal sounds.
5. Citrus Sensory Bin
This activity is very simple and uses just a few ingredients. All you need is a container of any size (from a small bowl to a kiddie pool!), scoops and spoons, and citrus fruits. Slice the fruit and put them in the container with scoops and spoons. Children can scoop, squish and mix the fruit. This activity is a multi-sensory experience, offering children unique scents and textures to explore with their eyes, hands, and nose. Add water to the bin for additional fun!
It’s All About The Process
When setting up sensory play activities, include your child in every step of the process. They can help choose the items or colours they wish to use. They can help pour, measure, or scoop the ingredients. There are valuable learning experiences to be had every step along the way.
While your child is playing, you can ask them questions about what they are seeing, noticing, and experiencing. This can be a great opportunity to build language and social skills. You can also sit back and simply observe as your child becomes lost in the pure joy of play!
- Hannah Platt, Program Facilitator at the London Children’s Museum