Sensory Play Activities for Toddlers – Easy, Fun, Mess-free

Are you ready for some easy and fun sensory play and sensory activities for toddlers? Above all, sensory play is extremely important to the brain development of our toddlers, especially in the first three years. Therefore, we’ve summed up here some very simple but interesting sensory play activities for toddlers and babies. Those are almost mess-free and you can do them every day. They stimulate sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. It’s important to note, that almost any every-day toddler activity is a sensory activity.

For this reason, you don’t need to go over and above to implement sensory play activities in your daily schedule. Luckily, sensory play activities are already on our schedules. Since our toddlers explore everything with their senses, any activity can provide sensory experiences to stimulate their senses. Our task is to support it and not to hinder them while they are doing their thing.

Sensory play with a Flashlight – chase the light beam

That’s one of my favorite sensory activities since it is extremely simple, low-prep and great fun and engagement. You need only a weak flashlight, that’s save for the eyes of your child. We’ve been doing it since our son turned 6 months. And it goes simple as your toddler chasing the light beam across walls, floor with their hands, and across the ceiling with their sight. In order to create a sequential activity, start at one point in the room, for example, the door and move with the light clockwise across the walls. You can teach words like up and down, left and right when you move the light beam. Also, you can point the light towards rough and smooth surfaces and teach those words too. Same with the words bright and dark.

Sensory Play sensory activities with light

At some point, they start to do this activity on their own and they are actively engaged in it. Therefore, I don’t like to use a bright torchlight, because my toddler points it sometimes in his eyes and for me, that’s a no-go. Instead, I use a small pocket light, that has mild and week light.

My Toys on the Wall – Mini Home Cinema sensory play

This is a great and fun sensory activity if you have a multimedia projector at home. I really don’t like it when my child watches TV or YouTube Videos, he looks as if he froze in front of the TV or iPad.

On the contrary, it is a big difference, if you stream self-made videos of playing with your toddler’s toys on the wall with a multimedia projector. It’s interacting and fun. Our toddler was exploring the color lights, reacting to the sounds he hears and searching for the source of the whole.

Sometimes, he even was kissing the wall, when I showed him his rubber ducks with the multimedia projector.

Light and Shadow Theater – sensory play

Toddlers and babies are fascinated when they discover their shadows. It goes without saying, that there are hundreds of variations of this sensory activity. You can check out also those on Pinterest.

sensory activity

Chase the Sun bunny – sensory play with the sun

Chasing the sun bunny is fun and depends always on the presence of the sun. It goes simple as the sensory play with a flashlight. However, instead of a flashlight, you use a small mirror.

Water Drizzle

Good summer activity is going (barefoot) through water drizzles. Here is an example.

This works perfectly also in the backyard on the grass.

Air blowing in my face – sensory play with air

Our son was fascinated with our vacuum cleaner since the very beginning. As soon as he started to crawl, he started chasing the vacuum cleaner. He seemed to love the blowing air in his face. The same thing happened with the hairdryer. It’s an easy and fun activity to try out if your toddler likes it.

Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is a great every-day sensory activity. When for example your toddler is eating an apple, they use a combination of their senses to explore and eat the apple. Thus they learn from this sensory experience (eating) faster and easier. The use of taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing at the same time helps them to remember more. First, they see and remember what shape and color is the apple. Second, they touch and feel the surface of the apple. Third, they bite in and get to learn the taste and the smell of an apple. Is it sweet and fresh or somehow sour? Finally, they learn the name of the apple easier, when you repeat it while they are eating it.

Looking for more fun toddler activities? Check these ones.

Benefits of sensory play

With sensory play, there’s always much more going on than meets the eye.

Sensory activities, in addition to being fun and interesting for babies and young children, encourage children to explore and investigate. Furthermore, these activities support children to use the ‘scientific method’ of observing, forming a hypothesis, experimenting and making conclusions.

Sensory activities also allow children to refine their thresholds for different sensory information, helping their brain to create stronger connections to sensory information and learn which are useful and which can be filtered out.

Goodstart Early Learning

Read more about the benefits of sensory play at Early Learning Website.

For further research into sensory play and its benefits, check out the  Michigan State University Cognitive development and sensory play articles.

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