Sensory Play Ideas

Sensory Play Ideas

Playing is what all children do, yet there's so much more to it that escapes our attention in the chaos of everyday life. 

When we look closer, we can easily see that playing is in fact one of the most important aspects of our children's lives and have enormous impact on things like development of imagination, creative thinking skills, forming and sustaining social bonds or ways in which they learn to create and exercise strategies.

Because we understand how important a child's play is, together with Catherine from we've decided to prepare a set of games, designed to provide your children with great fun while helping to develop certain skills.


Age recommendation: From 9 months

For the simplest of play invitations, display the blocks in a basket or tub for your little one to discover. Toddlers love filling, emptying and carrying things around in containers, so this simple addition will add a whole new dimension to their block play! These activities are all things that they can do on their own, and will help them to practice entertaining themselves.

When you play with your little one, you can introduce slightly more complex activities, such as stacking, building and colour matching. They will need your help to do these things initially, but will gradually develop the ability to do them by themselves.

Pictures : Game setup / Action / Reaction

This one is suitable from 9 months, but obviously the older they get the less help they’ll need from a grownup. Molly is 18 months, so ideal for her age group to explore. I helped her identify the numbers and she learned to say “bumpy” from exploring the textures.

Learning outcomes:

  • Develops motor skills,
  • Hand-eye coordination,
  • Colour recognition and social skills,
  • Promotes language acquisition,
  • Problem solving,
  • Understanding of object permanence and scientific concepts such as gravity.


Age recommendation: From 12 months

"What's missing?" Line up the dinosaurs in front of your little one. Keep the boxes to one side. Count the dinosaurs, then instruct your little one to look away and quickly remove one of them. When they look back, get them to help you count the dinosaurs again. One is missing! Can your little one remember which one it is?

Pictures : Game setup / Action//Reaction

This activity exercises memory and recall, and is an introduction to simple game play. It is also a self-correcting activity, as they can use the boxes to deduce which dinosaur is missing if they can't remember. This means they can still get the answer correct without your help, which is important for their self-esteem and their development of problem solving skills.

Learning outcomes:

  • Develops memory and recall,
  • Turn taking, motor skills,
  • Colour recognition and vocabulary
  • Promotes positive self esteem, perseverance,
  • Problem solving and creative thinking


Age recommendation: From 12 months

Fill a shallow tub or tray with cereal and bury the parts of the flower stacker in it.

Leave the stand and the watering can beside the tray, along with a spoon or scoop, and something yellow to represent the sun (a bowl, a ball, a piece of card, etc.)

Pictures : Game setup / Action / Reaction

This activity invites your little one to dig in the cereal "soil" to find the parts and construct the flower. It is an opportunity for them to use play to explore the 3 components that plants need in order to grow - soil, water and sunlight. 

The search-and-find aspect of the activity creates a simple challenge that is easily achieved, setting the child up for success and building their confidence.

The sensory aspect of the cereal "soil" can be very calming, helping to regulate emotions and offering an opportunity for mindfulness. The cereal can stimulate all five senses and is suitable for even small children who still explore everything with their mouth. 

Learning outcomes:

  • Develops confidence,
  • Fine motor skills, object permanence and strengthens hand muscles in preparation for learning to write,
  • Promotes imagination, creativity,
  • Mindfulness, understanding of plants and the names of their parts and positive self-image


Age recommendation:  5 years +

Apart from using the octagon puzzle for practicing mindfulness while creating beautiful patterns, the individual pieces can be used in lots of different ways as "loose parts".

Loose parts are open-ended materials that have no specific intended purpose. They can be arranged or combined in lots of different ways as a vessel for imaginative play.

The rainbow coloured pieces in this toy can be used for colour sorting, pattern making, counting, stacking and even as play food!

To create a loose parts play invitation for your little one, write their name in large letters on a sheet of paper, then line up some of the small wooden pieces along the lines of one of the letters. This acts as a suggestion of how they can use the coloured pieces to decorate the letters of their name, but be aware that this is not what they might choose to do, and that's ok!

Pictures : Game setup / Action / Reaction

The magic of these pieces is that they can be whatever you want them to be, so let your little one's imagination take the driving seat on this one and see what they come up with.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develops fine motor skills,
  • Strong hand muscles necessary for learning to write,
  • Confidence, self esteem,
  • Colour recognition and hand-eye coordination,
  • Promotes name recognition, early maths skills,
  • Problem solving ability and creativity

Hopefully your little ones will enjoy the games we've prepared for them. 

We believe that paying a little more attention to the way your children play and introducing well thought-out games is a small measure that could bring great rewards into the future lives of our children.

Please let us know how did you like the games in the comment section and don't forget to follow for more amazing ideas!

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.