As a mom of three young children, I find it essential to always have a few high quality, hands-on play ideas in my arsenal. They come in handy when the weather is bad, kids are sick, or I just need to stay home and finally pay the bills or tackle the laundry.
Why hands-on? Because sensory activities have so many benefits for kids including improvements in fine motor development, critical and creative thinking skills, and the ability to focus. These types of activities are also incredibly engaging to young children and often lead to miraculously long stretches of attentive play, during which a parent can accomplish a myriad of tasks.
Today I’m rounding up my top 10 favorite sensory activities and any recipes/instructions you’ll need to pull them off. Bookmark or pin them now so you’ll have them when you need them. You’ll be happy you did!
Recipes for the Best Play Doughs, Slimes and Gaks
Super Soft Jell-O Play Dough: Made with yummy smelling Jell-O, this play dough recipe is the softest we’ve ever tried and it lasts for a really long time.
Dr. Seuss’ Oobleck: This homemade slime can be paired with the classic Dr. Seuss book to extend the activity and the kids’ enjoyment.
Scented, Glitter Rainbow Slime: The addition of scented oils and glitter in this slime recipe means it will entice all the senses.
Homemade Modeling Clay: A sophisticated twist on classic play dough, this modeling clay will harden once shaped. Kids can choose to add food coloring before sculpting or to paint their creations after they’ve hardened.
Making Snowmen Inside with Fake Snow: This simple two ingredient recipe will let your children build snowmen all year round.
Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough: No need to worry about your kids sneaking tastes of this completely edible play dough.
Our Favorite Sensory Box Ideas
Rainbow Rice Box: We originally made this rainbow rice box for St. Patrick’s Day, hiding gold coins and shamrocks inside the rice, but kids will be drawn to the bright colors any day of the year.
Construction Bean Box: If you have a vehicle lover at home, this construction-themed bean box is the way to go!
Cloud Dough Indoor Sandbox: Another super simple recipe that will allow your kids to play with their sand toys all year long.
Veggie Garden Sensory Box: This is a wonderful precursor to planting real vegetables outside during warm weather. It’s also a great Earth Day activity as kids can use the free printables and upcycled popsicle sticks to make vegetables markers. The post also includes instructions for making vegetables out of upcycled egg cartons.
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Photo Credit: Stephanie Morgan