There are literally endless sensory play ideas for young kids, many using every day items in your home and pantry. Only limit is your imagination. All types of play are essential for children’s development and early learning. In the first five years of life, your child’s brain develops more and faster than at any other time in their life. Messy or Sensory play is important for young kids as it gives them endless opportunities to develop and learn through their play. Some parents don’t like messy play as kids and things of course get messy. But I encourage you to utilise your outside space and just have your child in their underwear or nappy to limit the cleaning required. We have rounded up our top 12 sensory play ideas for you to try at home with your little ones.
Sensory and messy play helps children to work cooperatively and collaboratively with other children and they use multiple senses to explore their environment and surroundings. Play helps children to develop various essential skills such as gross motor, fine motor, coordination, creative thinking, problem solving and their imagination.
Sensory play ideas for young kids
I remember a few times setting up various Sensory play activities for my children. For one of my children who has additional needs the sensory play was a key component of his early therapy days so we would incorporate into our daily life for all the kids. I have a found memory of my three older kids having a ball with shaving foam, stripped down to their underwear in our driveway and painting themselves with foam from head to toe.
Another time I made rainbow spaghetti! I cooked up a few packs of spaghetti and then coloured it. Put it in some shallow containers for the kids to then use cooking utensils and play and enjoy! The main picture is my youngest enjoying the rainbow spaghetti.
The options are endless!
Here are our top 12 Sensory play ideas for young kids:
- Rice (coloured or plain)
- Sand (regular or kinetic)
- Shaving foam
- Pasta (cooked or uncooked)
- Cotton wool balls
- Dry mixed beans, peas or lentils
- Water beads
- Play dough (check out our homemade recipe here)
- Paint! (duh!)
You can use a large container for your child to sit next to or I have even used one of the those shells (from Bunnings or Kmart) that they can use for water play as well and actually sit your kids in it. When my boys were too little to sit up by themselves I also used a bumbo for them to still participate. Or another option is to put a young child in their high chair and a small amount of the sensory play in front of them. Remember supervision is a must for Sensory play as children may try and eat things and some of the items are not suitable for eating!
This website has some great ideas when it comes to Sensory play and other items to use and add to their play time. Check out Learning for kids for all their ideas.
We hope this blog has helped you with some great Sensory play ideas for young kids! Enjoy the mess and let them play!