Throughout our research, we’ve noticed that sometimes deep pressure stimulation is great, and other times it’s not so helpful, luckily there are plenty of other interventions to help young developing minds, such as sensory activities.
Sensory activities and sensory play are incredibly beneficial for a child’s development and can be a part of an effective sensory diet. They can help refine motor skills, encourage cognitive thinking, and can even help calm an anxious child. What most people don’t realize is that sensory activities and sensory play help support healthy development in children, and they can be simply made and easy to do yourself.
Our list below utilizes materials with appealing sensory attributes, such as color, smell, and taste, to help entertain them for more extended periods than traditional toys and crafts. Keep reading below to see what you can DIY to bring sensory activities into your home.
20 Sensory Activities
Homemade Slime: Slime gives kids a great medium to experiment with color mixing as well as providing an auditory stimulus too! It makes a fun smacking sound when kneaded, and your child will love customizing the slime batch with color (and glitter if you really go wild)! This is a crowd favorite when it comes to sensory activities.
2: Milk Painting
Milk Painting: If you have a tiny scientist at home, this is the activity for you! Milk painting creates an “animated painting” by using just milk and food dye. Pour the milk in a shallow cake pan, drip some food coloring dots into the milk, and use a q-tip dipped in dish soap to create a color explosion! Fun fact: the high-fat content in the milk used, the more exciting the color swirling and movement will be!
3. Frozen Pom-Poms
Frozen Pom Poms: Soak and freeze a pile of pom poms in a zip-lock bag or Tupperware. After the pom poms have frozen, take them out of the container and place on top of a towel and let the kids go crazy. As the pom poms defrost – your child will be delighted with how the shape changes! Note: This activity can get pretty wet and messy, so don’t forget the towel!
4. Scented Edible Finger Paints
Scented Edible Fingerpaints: Do you have some uneaten yogurt that you’re not quite sure what to do with? Luckily for you – we have a recipe for entirely edible and colorful fingerpaints! By mixing plain yogurt with kool-aid packets, you can create a fun edible activity for your child. Make sure you cover the entire activity surface for this since it will get messy!
5. Rainbow Foam Soap
Mix together flavored jello powder, warm water, and dish soap to create a foamy and bubbly playtime party! Send the mixture for a few spins in the blender, mix up a few different colors, and add them all to a plastic container. Note: This foam is not safe to be ingested, so make sure you keep a close eye while the activity is occurring.
6. DIY Stress Ball
This super easy activity is a fun option for a child, but also has dual use for any adult who has had a hard week! Partially inflate a balloon and fill with cornstarch to make a fun, squishy stress ball. Your kiddo also can decorate the ball with a permanent marker to add their own flair!
7. Dinosaur Excavation
Dinosaur Excavation: This might be the most straightforward activity on our list. Simply freeze some plastic dinos in a bowl of water overnight. Once the water has completely frozen, challenge the kids to “unearth” the dinos with table salt and safe kitchen utensils.
Here is another variation of a “dinosaur excavation.”
8. Rainbow Pasta
Rainbow Pasta: Boil up some spaghetti noodles, rinse with cold water, and dye with food coloring. Toss the pasta into a container or bin and let the kids twirl and swirl the pasta through their fingers!
9. Alphabet Car Wash
Alphabet Car Wash: You’ll need a large tub, shaving cream, toy cars, and plastic foam letters. Challenge the kids to find specific items in the “car wash” and make sure to give them a spray bottle to help rinse the objects clean!
Use your child’s toys for extra fun!
10. Calm Down Bottle
Calm Down Bottle: This is a great way to recycle any plastic bottles you may have lying around the house. Make sure to clean it out and remove all labels from the bottle before the activity! Fill the container with glitter glue, water, soap, and more glitter (yes we mean it). You can also add other
11. Texture Sticks
Texture Sticks: Arm yourself with jumbo craft sticks and hot glue various objects to the tips! Some of our favorites are pom poms, feathers, uncooked pasta, or stickers. Have the kids describe what they feel on each craft stick and make it into a game!
12. Rainbow Rice
Rainbow Rice: Put uncooked rice into a ziplock bag, add a few drops of food dye, smash the food dye through the grains of rice and bake to set. Pour the rice into a tub and let the kids imaginations run wild! They can create illustrations, build towers, or mix the grains together before separating, possibilities are truly endless.
13. Kinetic Sand
Kinetic sand has genuinely hit its peak with dozens of youtube videos displaying its relaxing effects, but did you know it can be homemade? Combine fine grain sand with cornstarch, water, and soap to create your own squishy, firm, and fun sand!
14. Magnetic Alphabet Fishing
Magnetic Alphabet Fishing: Let me tell you, plastic storage bins are your best friend. Fill one up with a few inches of water, throw in some magnetic letters, and have the kids fish them out with a magnetic wand. You can make a game of it by challenging them to find specific letters or spelling out particular words!
15. DIY Oobleck
DIY Oobleck: Oobleck manages to find itself somewhere in between slime, putty, and syrup. It’s gooey, squishy, liquid, and firm, indeed a magical substance. It can be squished into a ball and then released to turn into a puddle! All you need to do is combine water, cornstarch, and food coloring (if you want colors) to give the kids endless fun!
16. Rainbow Loom Sensory Bottle
Rainbow Loom Sensory Bottle: We have another activity for you that can recycle some items around the house! For this craft, you’ll use a clean, empty plastic bottle with the label removed. Fill the bottle with water and small colorful objects (rubber bands, beads, buttons, etc.). Permanently close the cap by hot gluing it to the bottle to prevent any spillage or messes.
17. DIY Sensory Cube
DIY Sensory Cube: You can create your own sensory cube with old gift boxes, shoe boxes, or tissue boxes you may already have in the house! Cover each side of the box with a different fabric or texture and give to the kids at playtime. We recommend using fabrics and textures that are dramatically different to keep things exciting!
18. Fake Snow
Fake Snow: You can create winter in July with this activity. Mix baking soda and shaving cream into a large bowl and add glitter until you’ve hit the ideal sparkle. With your “snow” you’ll be able to create snowmen, igloos, and snowballs until playtime is over and you wash it all away!
19. Homemade Sensory Board
Homemade Sensory Board: Create your own sensory board at home with a simple piece of cardboard. Attach things that can be pushed, fuzzy things, bouncy things, and anything your child loves to touch and feel. You can even challenge the kids to find items to attach to the board by themselves!
20. Hair Gel Sensory Bags
Hair Gel Sensory Bags: Squirt some hair gel in a ziplock, put in a couple of drops of food dye, and let your kiddo go crazy! Kids can write letters in them, squish them, and put their handprints on them all without the mess.
What are your go-to sensory activities? Join our Facebook group and discuss with others!