5 creative sensory play activities you can do with your child at home which explore different sounds, colours, textures, smells and tastes:

  1. Scented DIY Play Dough – Playdough (the brand) is quite pricey, but yet it is such an easy and cheap thing to make yourself. Add some food colouring and scent to it and hey presto a sensory explosion.
  2. Coloured Pasta – Cooked cold pasta is an oldie but a goodie – add a rainbow of different food colourings, some edible glitter and even some natural flavours to make sweet, savoury, bitter, salty, sour. Then simply let your child explore with their hands, mouths and feet.
  3. Printing Trays – Have a few different baking trays filled with poster paints and with your child explore printing different textures and making patterns. You can keep it simple using materials like corrugated card, sponges, bubble wrap etc. Or create your own stamps using vegetables, clay or DIY textured rolling pins.
  4. Crazy Cornflour – This is one of my favourites simply because it is quite soothing to play with. Mix 2 parts cornflour to 1 part water (and add glitter, food colouring of your choice and watch your child be mesmerised at how it changes form when picked up and the lovely squelching noises it makes.
  5. Alphabet Bottles – I love sensory bottles as they remind me a bit of lava lamps which I used to be fascinated in (still am haha). So how about finding a use for those old disposable plastic bottles. Fill each one with a selection of different wooden/plastic letters (or numbers), Add water and glitter to one, leave another empty (apart from the letters), add some rocks to the next, jingle bells to one more, coloured elastic bands and water to another and so on…

Simple no cook playdough recipe

Ingredients (makes one coloured ball):
  1. 8 tbsp plain flour
  2. 2 tbsp table salt
  3. 60ml warm water
  4. food colouring
  5. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  6. a scent of your choice – such as powdered ginger or cinnamon, peppermint essence, lemon rind, fine desiccated coconut and more.
Method:
  1. Mix together the flour and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl mix the water and oil plus a few drops of food colouring
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well until it comes together as a dough
  4. Knead for a few minutes on a floured surface to make sure it is smooth and pliable. At this point more glitter and colouring can be added if needed.
  5. Store in an airtight container once made.

What is Sensory play & why is it important

Sensory play is any child-friendly activity that involves the senses. Think anything that makes your child investigate a smell, sound, taste, touch or the way something looks.

Sensory play is very much thought about as a toddler and pre-school activity but actually the importance of it for all ages is often overlooked.

In young children it helps develop their investigative skills, imagination and motor skills. It can be combined with educational play as well to create fun learning opportunities. It also provides opportunity for language development and play skills such as independent play and cooperative play with others.

However one of the wonderful things about sensory play is its calming effect. The nature of the activities means children can use these whenever they feel anxious or upset. I have used sensory activities with children of all ages and although some of the older kids sometimes laugh when I get the playdough or cornflour out, they soon become transfixed with it’s tactile quality, which in turn helps them regulate their emotions and breathing. It’s even great for adults too!

So why not have a go yourself. They’re great activities to make and do as a family, especially when the weather is a bit grotty outside.