Sensory Play Ideas

Sensory Play Ideas

As a mother of four, I like to make a lot of homemade things that the kids can play with.  It’s great when I can incorporate my kids with the prep, and the making of whatever it is we are doing.  It’s a wonderful learning experience for them when they are able to participate.  I’ve tried many different things at home and especially while working in a preschool. The things that have worked, and are fun, I will give a brief summary/explanation in this post. I also encourage some of you to comment below if you have any great activities/projects that you’ve done with kids, as a parent or teacher, and want to share it with others.

alphabet blocks

One of my kids favorite things to make is Slime. I can’t tell you how many different types of slime they have made; from sparkle to colorful, to yummy smelling to flower scented.  

Fun Slime

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup clear Elmer’s glue
  • ½ teaspoon Borax Laundry Soap

In a mixing bowl you mix ½  cup warm water with the glue.  In another mixing bowl add the Borax with the other ½ cup water.  Making sure that both mixes are mixed well. Then pour the Borax mixture into the glue and water mixture and knead like dough.  Mix them completely.
I have used white elmer’s glue, added sparkles, and a few drops of food coloring (their choice of color).  The white Elmer’s glue is a bit cheaper than the clear.

**If your child has sensitive skin (because of the Borax), I would advise not to make this particular recipe.  My kids used this recipe with no issues.

I also have a recipe for edible slime made with marshmallows and baking ingredients.  That way if your child is known to eat things, this will be safe if ingested.  

Edible Slime

marshmallows

  • 1 bag of white or colored mini marshmallows (melted)
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar.  

sprinklesWe’ve even added colored sprinkles to make it more fun.  If you’re using white marshmallows you can add a few drops of food coloring if the mood strikes you.  Make sure to melt the marshmallows and coconut so it mixes together.

Another fun and yummy smelling thing to make is Fruit Scented play dough.  My kids were so funny when making this. They each picked out their own flavor of Kool Aid and after we made the play dough, they couldn’t stop smelling it, “Mom, this smells so gooooood!”

Fruit Scented Play dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 envelope Kool Aid (unsweetened)
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oilhomemade play dough

Mix together in a medium saucepan the flour, salt, Kool Aid, and cream of tartar. After mixed together, stir in water and oil.  I think my kids had more fun smelling this play dough than they did playing with it. They ended up dividing it up into thirds so they could share it with each other.  That way each of them had a piece of each scented dough.

 

snowWould your kids love playing in the snow…but in the summer and not cold to touch?  I would make fake snow at preschool for the kids and they loved it. It’s great because it packs like snow and it sort of molds/works like wet sand.  Kids can use cups and bowls to pack the ‘snow’.

Play Snow

  • 4 cups Baking Soda
  • 1 cup Conditioner (scented ones are nice)

Mix together and play.  If you keep the ‘snow’ covered in a container, the snow will be good for more than a few days.  

sensory tableIf you plan to make a lot of different things for your kids to play in, I suggest a sensory table.  If you purchase the 2-sided table, you can have a different things in each side.  They have separate covers to preserve what you have in them.  Keep sand in one side all the time and change out the other side weekly, using these fun recipes listed in this reading. The great thing about these sensory tables, they are on wheels so you can move them to any space inside or outside your home.  Having a sensory table is great for children with disabilities; it helps with their cognitive growth and development.  It’s great for their fine motor skills as well. Click on the picture to learn more about the sensory table.

Here are some other fun ideas for sensory table activities:

bagged topsoil, fake flowers, and plastic shovels.  Kids can pretend to garden and plant their own flowers.  

Water.  Kids love to play in water.  Add cups, cars, dinosaurs, boats, whatever they like to play with in the bath tub… put in the table.

Car wash.  With a little dish soap and water, kids can wash their toy cars.  The preschool kids loved the car wash!  This would be a day, when using the sensory table, you would want to have soapy water in one side and regular water to rinse in the other.  (bag/bin up the sand for another day.

Have you ever colored rice and pasta? These are two great things to play in a sensory table as well.

Colored Rice

  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 2 teaspoons of vinegar
  • Food Coloring (color of your choice)
  • Container with a Lid
  • Paper Towels

Put rice into the container.  Mix the vinegar and food coloring (the darker the food coloring, the darker the rice) in a small bowl and then add it to the container.  Close the lid and shake. Once the rice is coated, pour onto flat paper towels to dry. I prefer to use cookie sheets with edges, to lay my paper towels on, that way I can move the sheets to a different location if needed.

colored pastaColored Pasta

The colored pasta is made the same way as the colored rice, just use any type of pasta that you would like:  spiral, bow tie, elbow, etc… Just remember, the more food coloring you use, the darker the pasta will turn out.  The vinegar smell will fade as the pasta dries, so no worries about the smell.

Cornstarch and Water

This mixture is really tough to describe.  I don’t know if it’s goop, slime, or a type of quicksand, but it’s really fun.  My mother in law brought this over for my kids to play.  It is messy and I highly recommend putting down a drop cloth or a dollar store table cloth on the floor.

Start by using a cup of cornstarch and pour small amounts of water (1/4 cup to start) and mix together.  You can also add food coloring to the water to make it more interesting (the more food coloring, the darker the mixture).  How much water depends on:  the specific consistency that you are looking for, and what you’re looking for is a goo that runs through your fingers, but one that you can sort of mold.  Mixing with your hands gets a better idea of the specific consistency you are looking for.

water beadsOne last thing I would like to share with you are water beads.  Water beads are so much fun in a sensory table.  You buy them and the beads are tiny, after putting them into the sensory table add water and watch them expand! (Click on the picture to learn more).

A little tip when using the sensory table, pictures of stop signs taped on the lids of the tables lets kids know when one side or both sides are closed (not open for play).  Using a timer also helps kids understand when it’s time to close up the activity.

I’m always looking for more ways to entertain kids.  Please comment below if you have any other idea for sensory play ideas.

 

 

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