Quality Time sensory play ideas

This post is part of a series on activities for children ages 6-36 months. There are so many sensory play activities out there for babies and toddlers and now classes going on in every town across the uk. Here, i will share some of our favourites.

1) spaghetti – be prepared for quite a lot of it to be eaten but that’s the beauty of this activity, it doesn’t matter.  Just cook up a batch of spaghetti and once cooked mix in some food colouring. Be careful, it can take some time to cool down.  For an extra sensory experience add playdough or water. For toddlers offer plastic scissors to snip the spaghetti.     Another great food based play is jelly. We added dinosaurs to ours and said they were having a party. Elyse is enjoying sticking mini marshmallows into the jelly for the dinos to find. 

2) ice – finding treasure or plastic animals inside ice remains a favourite in our house and my kids are now 3 and 4. Just use ice cube trays or larger plastic containers to freeze any item you feel they will enjoy finding. Add food colour to make it even more interesting.  Offer hot water in squeezy bottles to melt the ice and release the objects.  

3) foil blankets – these are emergency foil blankets you can pick up in the pound shops. Kids love them. They are super shiny and make a fantastic noise when touched.  

4) scooping, pouring and mixing – the essence of sensory play and by far the most popular activity for under 3’s. Pretty much anything that can be scooped and poured will work. We found coloured rice was our favourite.  And after reading Goldilocks and the 3 bears porridge was also popular. The next stage is what Elyse now calls ‘recipes’ and asks to do within two minutes of waking up and then pretty much all day, she’s 3. Same idea, just lots of ingredients and lots of fake yummy noises when you’re handed bowls of uncooked pasta, stale cereal and glitter.  

5) playdough – don’t expect this age group to make anything from the playdough but it’s still a very useful sensory resources. Whether you chose to buy or make you own it’s great for poking sticks in, squishing and pressing objects in to leave imprints. For babies that like to eat playdough try putting its in a strong sandwich bag. They can still enjoy squishing it without having it for their dinner. For toddlers you can print or draw shapes and laminate them to be added to the playdough. Monsters are great.  

6) sensory bottles and bags – for more contained mess try making some of these using any thick clear substance (such as bubble bath) and add sequins, glitter, foam shapes etc).  These calm down bottles were made using glitter glue, hot water and glitter. Photos do not do them justice, they are very mesmerising to watch.  

7) sensory touch boards – just grab a piece of cardboard or mdf if you have it and glue on some textured items. This one was for a fairy workshop and hopefully you can see the detail on the second picture. I have used leaves, cotton wool, twigs, buttons, sequins, Pom poms, dried rose petals, pine comes, moss, sandpaper, windmills, polystyrene balls and felt to make the picture.   This valentines touch board was surrounded by ribbons and balloons to enhance the experience (and distract the babies from the fact that they were caged in to keep them out of the toddlers messy play).   

So of course there are many more sensory play activities out there but hopefully you have found a few in here that you would like to try. 

For other posts in this series please select link below:-

Quality Time colour learning tot trays
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