10 Sensory Activities for Toddlers

About two months ago Lia was diagnosed with a speech and language impairment as well as some sensory issues. There is no cookie cutter way…


About two months ago Lia was diagnosed with a speech and language impairment as well as some sensory issues. There is no cookie cutter way to address these issues. However, sensory play is a great way to help them.

RELATED POST: 5 thoughts parents have when told their child has special needs 

So why is sensory play important? Most of the information we retain as kids and adults is learned best when we use our senses. Things such as certain scents, memorizing lyrics, and the way things feel all come into play. By giving your kids the opportunities to engage their senses during play you are helping develop their brains.

Sensory play helps to build nerve connections in their brain pathways. By building these nerve connections you are enhancing their ability to engage in more complex learning and encouraging growth in the areas of; cognition, language, fine and gross motor skills, socialization, problem solving, and independence. 

Learning of Lia’s needs really brought us to dig and explore the various ways we can help mature her sensory processing system with sensory play. The best part of it all-she loves these activities and they can be done in the comfort of your home and without breaking the bank.

1.Sensory Bins

Pick up a plastic bin at your dollar store and fill it up with things such as; rice, beans, flour, pasta, dirt, etc. To that add in some toys. I added some small measuring cups for her to use as scoops and cupcake cups to pour things into.

You can add felt pom poms, pipecleaners, blocks, etc. Things you can pick up at your dollar store.  Anything with textures and colors to help stimulate their brains. Lia’s all time favorite is a bin filled with beans, cupcake cups, and scoopers.

2.Sensory Bottles

I recently purchased some Voss water bottles which were perfect for sensory bottles. Drink the water and fill it up with liquids of different concentrations; oil, dish soap, water, etc.

You can also add beads, blocks, pipe cleaners, or whatever you would like to give the liquid something to move through it. Show your little one the difference in how objects move within each different type of liquid.

3.Touch & Feel Books

An all-time favorite of Lia. You can grab some online or in-store. These books have different textures throughout the pages allowing your little ones to stimulate not just their eyesight and hearing but also their sense of touch.

4.Finger Painting

I am a HUGE fan of finger painting. I pick up some inexpensive washable paints, strip her down to her diaper (or clothes I dont mind messing up), set down some paper and let her paint.

It is totally messy but the joy is totally worth it. I let paint things such as construction paper, inexpensive ceramic items from the dollar store, or cardboard figures.

ps: these also make great gifts for family members

5.Sand Box

You DO NOT need an actual sandbox to make this happen. You can make it on the smaller size with a bin or box and just add play sand.

I picked up a bag of play sand at my local hardware store, lined up a plastic pool, and tossed in the sand. I even put some toys in the sand and handed her a brush to dig them up.

Related Post: No Mess Sensory Bin

6.Music time

Whether you let them bang on pots, pans, tupperware or play their favorite tunes- music is always a win. I will turn tupperware upside down and hand her wooden spoons to make noise.Include objects of different material to expose them to various sounds. Nursery rhymes are some of Lia’s favorites, they will love it!

7.Play in Mud

EEK! I know- messy…but let them do it! My husband remembers playing in the mud and still smiles at those memories. So you might have to hose them down before they come inside (haha) or they might get the inside of your house muddy. It’s okay mama, take a deep breath and remember exploring is good for them.

8.Shaving Cream

Again…messy…I know! However, you can control shaving cream a bit more. A way to keep it clean is to designate an area for it; whether it be inside or outside. I will set down our gathre mat or a tarp under her to keep everything in one place. You can add shaving cream to a surface or just on the floor and let them go wild. Pick some up at your dollar store!


Playing with stickers is fun for any age. I pick up random stickers at my dollar store and keep them all in a bin. All we do is set out a piece of paper and let her get to it. The different shapes, textures, and sizes really makes her engage. Another positive is the way it works on their fine motor skills with the peeling off the sheet and onto paper.

10.String Pasta

Use uncooked pasta and some string. Think of the process of making pasta jewelry. This activity is great for the development of their motor skills. Help them learn the skill of stringing the pasta through.

Sensory play is a great way to help mature your child's sensory system. Help develop your child's sensory system with these 10 activities. sensory play, sensory activities, sensory system, motor development, toddler development, language development, sensory processing, sensory processing disorder, occupational therapy, special education, special needs, child development, brain development, toddler activities, easy activities, toddler play, occupational needs, OT, speech disorder, speech and language impairment


  1. I’ve been following your story about Lia and these issues recently. I haven’t really spoke to you about it because I don’t know what to say, because I’m sure it’s hard for you. But you’re such a amazing mama that I know you got this. This blog is great and these are some cool sensory play activities. When Aria’s was smaller I did a activity where I took a trash bin with a bunch of holes in it (it was made like that) and I let her stick Q-tips in each hole. She was really concentrated on this the entire time. I also have toys called squishy Delious or something like that I wrote about it a while back they’re really good for sensory play, plus it’ll give you a good reason to go to target (where they sell em). Good luck with everything mama 🙂

  2. This is like allowing your child to try out new things and keeping them under your nose at the same time. Great idea! 🤗💖

  3. It’s like allowing your child to go and learn new stuff while keeping them under your nose at the same time 🤗 this is a great idea to keep them busy 💖

  4. I used to be a toddler teacher and used so many of these ideas in my classroom. Our daughter really loves sensory bins/bottles and her sandbox. She plays with those constantly.

  5. I’ve been seeing a lot about sensory bins lately and never really got it. Reading this explains it really well and how helpful it is. I think my niece and nephews would like it.

  6. I’m so glad you wrote this post!! So often, parents get caught up in wanting their children to learn a systematic way, forgetting the experiences gained through PLAY! Play is such an integral part of toddlerhood. We use all of these activities as well. I’m a homeschooling mama of four, ranging from 11 months to 11 years old – with the last three being stair stepped, so to keep from going crazy, PLAY is a huge part of learning for my youngest two!

  7. Shaving cream was one of my FAVORITE things to do as a kid! I’m so grateful for a momma who didn’t fear the mess.

  8. These are all such great suggestions! I have a very active toddler, so this gives me lots of ideas. We’ve never played with shaving cream!

  9. Looking back, I totally remember these activities as a kid. I thought they were just for fun but who woulda known it was for sensory development. As an adult I still am tempted to stick my hand in the barrel of dried beans at the grocery store. I don’t do it tho :p

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