Let’s talk about sensory play, primarily the sense of touch through tactile, hands-on play. Our favorite sensory play ideas for toddlers to preschoolers and beyond include sensory bins, sensory bottles, playdough, slime (especially taste-safe slime for younger kids), water play, messy play, and more. You can make so many unique sensory play ideas from convenient supplies!

We have tons of examples of sensory play for you to use at home or with groups of young kids. Sensory activities don’t have to be difficult to set up, and you will find our sensory recipes all use inexpensive kitchen pantry ingredients.  Let’s get your kids ready for some fun sensory play time today!

What is Sensory Play?

Sensory play is any play that involves the senses! This page is mainly about tactile sensory play, including the sense of touch but you will also find scented and taste-safe recipes.

Whether you want to dig into a sensory bin, shake a sensory bottle, or squish a sensory recipe, we have you covered.

Find unique sensory activities for the entire year that are easy to set up and budget-friendly. We cover the holidays, seasons, and any time with fun ways to explore textures.

Of course, you will see that some of these recipes smell great and are visually appealing. Additionally, you will find quite a few taste-safe sensory recipes that appeal to the sense of taste.

Sensory play is suitable for all ages, including toddlers, with plenty of supervision for the younger kiddos. Toddlers especially love sensory play, but please provide only appropriate materials and watch for putting items in the mouth.

Choose sensory fillers or recipes that are not choking hazards, and always supervise play!

Why is Sensory Play Important?

Sensory play makes for awesome hands-on fun and learning for young children as they explore and discover more about the world through their senses! Sensory activities can also calm a child, help a child to focus, and engage a child.


Motor Development Skills ~ Sensory play helps a child explore, discover, and create using motor skills like dumping, filling, and scooping.

Play Skills {emotional development} ~ For both social play and independent play, sensory activities allow children to play cooperatively or side by side. My son has had many positive experiences with other children over a bin of rice!

Language Development ~ Sensory bins increase language development by experiencing all there is to see and do with their hands, which leads to great conversations and opportunities to model language.

Using the 5 Senses ~ Many sensory activities include a few of the senses! Touch, sight, sounds, taste, (where appropriate), and smell are the 5 senses. Kids can experience several senses at a time with a sensory bin or sensory play recipe. 

For example, imagine a bin of brightly colored rainbow rice: touch the loose grains against the skin, see the vivid colors as they mix together, and hear the sound of sprinkling over a plastic container or shaken in a plastic egg!

Calming tools ~ Sensory play recipes calm many anxious or worried kiddos. You might find that one works better than another for your kiddo.

Some sensory play materials can settle and soothe, and some can help keep kids’ attention and connection with you. Download the free calming activities poster here.

ALSO CHECK OUT: 10 Things To Include In A Calm Down Kit

Free Sensory Play Guide

Grab this handy, free sensory play ideas guide to help you plan your sensory experiences!

Types of Sensory Play

Whether you choose bins, bottles, doughs, or slimes… there are tons of sensory play ideas just right for you!


What is a sensory bin?  A sensory bin is a simple container filled with a sensory filler in quantity. 

You only need a few basic things to make a sensory bin; a container, filler, and fun play tools. Sensory bin play doesn’t have to be too messy either; find out more about how to put together a sensory bin and grab the free guide!

Sensory bins have been a huge staple in our house for a number of years.  They are an easy play option for toddlers to preschoolers that you can change up frequently, create new themes for, and vary with the seasons or holidays!

Some of our favorite sensory bin fillers are…

How to Make Sensory Bins


A great calm down and anxiety relief tool, glitter bottles are easy to make, reusable, and low cost too! Sensory bottles take little time to make but offer numerous, lasting benefits for your kids.

Kids love these cool sensory bottles, and they are easy to whip up with materials you already have on hand or easy to grab at the store. Whether you make an I SPY-style bottle to take along with you or a science-filled discovery bottle, you won’t be disappointed!


Homemade playdough is excellent for many reasons! From playdough to cloud dough, foam dough, and more, it’s easy to whip a batch of your own sensory dough.

Firmer doughs like playdough can be a great sensory tool for hands-on early learning activities like letters, numbers, and colors. It is also a great muscle strength activity for little hands getting ready to write. It is relaxing to knead, roll, stretch, flatten, pound, and whatever is fun!

Plus, sensory doughs adapt to themes like a charm. Pretend, create, build, imagine, and discover! Below is a no-cook strawberry playdough recipe!

No-Cook Strawberry Playdough Recipe

50 Fun Sensory Play Ideas for Kids to Try!

Click on any sensory activities below for the needed materials and full instructions.


Have fun with this taste-safe sensory play foam made with ingredients you probably already have in the kitchen! This edible shaving foam, or aquafaba as it is commonly known, makes a fun, non-toxic play foam for little ones!


Cloud dough is soft and moldable. Sometimes called moon sand or moon dough as well. You can make it taste safe, too, depending on the oil you choose. Additionally, it can be made with a gluten-free flour mix!

Ocean Moon Sand


This crayon playdough is a great way to use old crayons and make awesome homemade playdough for young kids.


Sensory play not only involves the hands, it can also involve taste as well! Make our simple edible peanut butter playdough for a fun treat and play idea in one.


A sprinkle of glitter and soft colors makes this amazingly soft fairy dough come to life! Whip up a super soft playdough recipe with just two ingredients in minutes. Play for hours with a sweet fairy theme. Can’t you hear the make-believe stories happening now?

Fairy Dough


A glitter bottle or glitter jar is a fun way to enhance the season through beautiful glittering colors. Fall can be an amazingly beautiful season, depending on where you live, with glorious jewel-toned leaves, pumpkins, apples, and gourds!


Colorful fall sensory bins that capture the beauty of fall with hands-on sensory play and learning!


Freeze real flowers for an exciting icy flower sensory play idea, and talk about parts of the plants too!

Flower Ice Melt


What do you get when you whip up a batch of cornstarch and shaving cream? You get foam dough, a totally awesome texture for little hands and big hands to squeeze and squish.

Foam Dough Recipe


These glitter jars make a great calm-down tool with their mesmerizing Elsa and Anna Frozen winter sparkle!


Play with these glitter bottles are terrific for sensory processing needs, anxiety relief, and, well just something fun to shake and look at!


Add a fun holiday theme to easy to make Halloween glitter jars or bottles.


Make a fun fruit-scented homemade playdough with Jello. Playdough activity suggestions are included. Plus, a free printable playdough mat!

Jello Playdough


You don’t need to buy it, you can make it! This fun sensory activity is perfect for any day of the week. Add fun items for exploring the cool texture and kids will have a blast digging into it.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Colored Kinetic Sand


Kool-Aid playdough has the sent built right into this easy homemade playdough recipe.

Kool Aid Playdough


Mud, glorious mud! Make your own cornstarch mud for hands-on sensory play indoors or outdoors. Magic mud is the perfect way to keep kids busy and exploring with their senses at the same time.

Magic Mud


Real dirt, real mud, and a real lot of good wholesome mess make for the best play and learning experiences! These mud activities explore mud inside and out with science, sensory, math, and building play.

Check out>>> Messy Sensory Play Ideas


This has to be the easiest homemade playdough recipe you could make. See how easy it is and watch a short video of the process.

Check out>>> 17 Fun Playdough Activities

Click here to get your FREE Flower Playdough Mat

Flower Playdough Mat


Add sand, gems, glitter, and more for unique ocean sensory bottles and jars. Make an ocean in a bottle or a beach in a bottle, or even ocean waves in a bottle!


Enjoy a hands-on way to explore the ocean through lots of play. It even includes a fun ice melt activity.


Oobleck or goop is the coolest sensory play around because it’s part science too! Easy to make with only 2 simple kitchen ingredients, oobleck will amaze the kiddos.

Want to make up some oobleck with a fun theme? Try one of the ideas below…


Add this easy winter theme Peeps playdough recipe to your bag of sensory recipes, and you will surely have something fun to whip up these holidays or any time of the year! You can also make Halloween peeps playdough or Easter peeps playdough


This powdered sugar playdough with only 2 ingredients couldn’t be easier, and the kids can easily help you mix up a batch or two!

Edible Dough Recipe


Add pudding mix to this pudding dough recipe for a fun and non-toxic sensry play idea for kids! We also have a shark theme pudding slime here.

edible pudding slime recipe with gummy worms
Pudding Slime


Sensory glitter bottles are often made with expensive glitter glue. Our substitute, glue and a jar of glitter make these rainbow DIY glitter jars much more cost effective!

Click here to get your FREE Rainbow Playdough Mat


Kids love this messy sensory play activity that combines shaving cream and sand. Perfect for outdoor days!


Sand, gems, artificial grass, pasta, paper, aquarium gravel, and more! Pair a sensory bin with one of our free printable packs to extend the learning!


Slime makes an amazing sensory play activity, and we have so many easy slime recipes and cool slime ideas for you to try.

You will want to use a taste-safe and borax-free slime recipe for younger kids.  Older kids will love hands-on sensory play with one of our simple slime recipes.

SLIME: Borax-Free

If you are looking for a borax-free, taste-safe, and non-toxic slime, we have an awesome collection of edible slime recipes that fit the bill. Check out these recipes below…

Marshmallow Slime


Soap foam is a super simple sensory play recipe that kids will love and you’ll feel good about making for them. A simple water activity that’s a treat for the senses. 


These sensory or texture balloons are really easy to make yourself. There are different fillings you can use to create various sensory experiences for your kiddos.

Check our stress balls made with flour, Halloween stress balls, and these sensory balloons for many ideas.

Printable Playdough Activity Pack

Everything you need to enjoy homemade playdough at home or in the classroom, with a bit of early learning, too! Or use the mats with store-bought playdough to save a little time.

  • Homemade Playdough Recipes including traditional, no-cook, super soft, and even taste-safe ideas!
  • Playdough Mats with an Early Learning Theme, specially designed mats including space, seasons, volcanos, bees, and more!
  • Playdough tips, tricks, and ideas!