Whether you’re still working from home and the kids aren’t back to school or nursery yet, or you’re just running out of ideas to keep them entertained and are in need of inspiration, today on the Little Extras blog we’re sharing 15 sensory ideas to help focus fidgeters.
1. SPONGE SOUP
Water play is such a fun and easy activity to arrange and is packed with benefits to help with your little one’s development. Simply fill a large bowl with water, cut up some sponges into different shapes and sizes, and throw them in! Let your child mix, squeeze and scoop up the soggy sponges.
2. FINGER PAINTING
Although finger painting can mean messy business, it can also be a calming experience for little ones as they feel the gloopy paint texture and the smooth surface of the paper. Looking for an easy wash solution? Shop the Micador Easy Wash Painting Pack.
3. SENSORY BAG
For babies who still love putting everything they can get their hands on in their mouths, a sensory bag can provide entertainment whilst ensuring everything is safe. You could add cooked oats with different coloured food dye for a gooey experience, or jelly for something smooth and slick.
4. RAIN STICK
Nostalgia is knocking! Rainstick instruments are sure to keep children’s senses engaged, with their mesmerising trickle sounds. You’ll need a cardboard tube, a brown paper bag to cover the tube edges (you can attach with rubber bands) and beads, rice or beans to go inside. Plus, paint and stickers and any other craft essentials to decorate!
5. ICE AGE
All kids love little animal figures, and there’s one activity you can organise with them that’s guaranteed to keep them occupied for at least an hour. Freeze them! You could put them in water in a small Tupperware to freeze, then on a sunny day let your kids ‘rescue’ the animals from the ice using toy hammers. For a tool free option, simply immerse them into a bowl of water and swish them around until the ice melts.
6. NATURE TRAIL
Getting out and exploring the sounds, smells and textures of nature is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your senses engaged. If you have a garden, send your little one on an adventure to gather leaves, rocks and flowers. Or, head on a family walk and make a game of it together!
7. PLAY PIT
Paddling pools or play pits can be used for so many sensory experiences – fill them with water, balls, sand, teddy bears. One mum’s amazing idea went viral recently; put Cheerios in a food processor and blitz until fine like sand, then you have an edible sand pit!
8. PLAY DOUGH
We could put together a list of sensory play ideas without including play dough – the original sensory play! You could make your own, but for busy mums who want a quick and easy solution, just buy a few pots.
9. NO-BAKE CAKE
Well, it’s the first step to baking a cake – weighing out the flour! You’ll have to be prepared for some serious mess with this one, but little ones will love spreading the flour out on the table and making shapes in it with their fingers! If they start to tire of it, simply add some water and they’ll have a whole new experience as it starts to form a sticky dough they can flatten with the rolling pin.
10. RIBBON RAIN
Silky ribbons have a lovely soothing texture that little ones will love to explore. You could hang a selection of colourful ribbons from somewhere easily accessible and let them touch and tug on them. Next time you receive a package, save the cardboard box and fill the “tunnel” with ribbons hanging from the top.
11. SHINY SENSORY TREASURE
Stimulate their visual senses by giving them a basket full of shiny treasures to explore. This could be filled with a small mirror, an old CD, metallic wrapping paper, and anything else you might have lying around the house. This one is ideal for older toddlers, but they will still require supervision.
12. SOGGY NOODLES
Another safe and fun sensory game is a simple bowl of noodles! Simply cook a few noodles, ideally buy a few varieties so you have different thicknesses to play with, and let your little one handle the stringy, soggy noodles once they’ve cooled down. Dry pasta is also excellent for sensory engagement – try threading it onto string or wooden skewers.
13. VEGETABLE GARDEN
Teach your child about the importance of growing your own and the exciting way that vegetables grow under ground with their very own vegetable garden sensory bin. Simply fill a bin with pretend soil (black rice is a good option) and add some vegetables for them to dig out and re-plant as many times as they like.
14. SPIDER WEB OBSTACLE
All you need is some yarn, a basket and some toys. Simply web the yarn in, out and across the basket in all directions to make a little obstacle course for your toddler’s hands to navigate as they try to retrieve the toys inside. It is a great activity for hand-eye co-ordination skills.
15. BLINDFOLD GAME
And finally, for older kids, play the blindfold game! Siblings can enjoy playing this one together – one of them is blindfolded while the other passes them an object – they have 3 tries to guess what it is!