Top 10 Easy to Make Sensory Play Activities for Children

Published: September 30, 2014

These are fun activities for children, all from easy to find ingredients, most of which you may have around the house already! Get a little messy, be creative, and most of all have some hands on fun!


Since my children are young, I really enjoy finding activities that have a few readily available ingredients that are also safe to taste as much as possible.  I want our activities to not only be quick, easy, and inexpensive to do, but also have safe ingredients for my small ones because the less stressful the fun the more likely we are all going to do it together!  Most of these recipes and ideas are just the starting base.  Take them, try them, and expound upon them.  Let your children’s input and creative drives guide the fun and explore along with them what other avenues you can investigate!



  1. Salt Dough Creations


    1 cup salt 2 cups Flour ¾ cups water
    (mix together and kneed into dough)

    After making your dough you can be as creative as you want making different crafts for all occasions.  You can flatten it and cut out shapes, make ornaments, or even make little characters and creatures.  After you are done, you can either let the creations air dry (which can take days) or bake them at the lowest heat you can (or have time for).  Depending on the size and thickness of the creation the drying time varies.  If you are baking and you use too high of a temperature it will start to cook the dough and you will get areas that rise.  After drying you can paint your creations, and I like to spray a finish on them to help protect the color and make them nice and shinny! 
    Quick Recommendations:


    Make sure to puncture hanging holes before drying if you are making ornaments!! If you want to attach the one piece of dough to another when making creations, dab both ends with a little water and press into each other.

    I like to add some cinnamon to the dough.  It can give it a nice scent!    

  2. Cloud Dough

    8 cups Flour 1 cup Vegetable Oil
    (mix together well)


    Ready for some messy (but easy to clean up) fun!  Make your own mini beach day with a big tub and sand/cooking toys.  Mold it, feel it, squeeze it, and create with it!  Make a castle or pretend ice cream cones.  You can make mini snowmen or whatever you feel inspired to create.

  3. Homemade play dough

    1 cup Conditioner 2 cups cornstarch
    (mix together well)



    This recipe is easy to make with easy to find ingredients.  As with the other recipes, if you find it too dry or liquid, just adjust your amounts until it works!  This play dough is stretchy and rubbery. 


  4. Homemade Finger Paint

    5 cups Water 2 cups Flour 1/4 cup Salt Food Coloring Cups

    In a saucepan heat water and flour until the mixture is smooth.  Add in salt and mix.  Let the paint cool, divide it up, and mix in food coloring to make colors choices.  Let their little fingers guide their imagination!

  5. Non-toxic Non-Newtonian fluid

    1 cup Water 1-2 cup cornstarch Food coloring optional
    (mix to desired consistency)

    A non-Newtonian fluid thickens under pressure.  When you squeeze or push on it quickly, it hardens.  When you move your hands through it slowly, or release it from a tight squeeze, it flows and drips through your fingers.  Not only is this activity fun to explore, but also you can explain to older children how it works. 

  6. Rice Table

    Rice Container

    Instead of sand, why not use rice?  Fill a tub with rice and let your little ones explore with different toys, containers, and tools.  This can be a lot of fun, with such an easy ingredient.  You can even save it for later.

  7. Crayon Rubbings

    Crayons White paper Leaves

    Go outside and collect different leaves.  Organize the leaves on a piece of paper.  Put another piece of paper on top, and rub a crayon on its side, with the paper sleeve removed, across the paper until leaf imprints appear.  Try different types of leaves and talk about why some trees lose their leaves and why other trees do not.  Take a walk to the park, or stay in your own backyard, but use this time to experience some of the brisk autumn air while learning and playing together!

  8. Instant Pudding

    Instant pudding Follow directions on the box

    This is a great, easy to make, inexpensive, and fun to taste experience for you and your children.  Let them pour, mix, and try their pudding!  Other foods that are great for kids to help make and experience are baking cookies, and banana bread for example.  When baking you can help teach kids basic math, help them learn about mixtures and solutions, and let them practice gross and fine motor skills.


  9. Frozen Treats on a Stick

    With your children, pick out different substances to freeze.  You can use different store bought juices, fresh squeezed juices, milk, chocolate milk, or other favorite drinks, and even water.  You can either use a frozen treat set you buy or use ice cube trays/small cups and some type of stick.  Freeze the liquids and try them out with your little ones.  You can talk about how different liquids freeze and the unique characteristics of the frozen treats.


  10. Shake and Make Homemade Ice Cream


    1 Pint Storage Bag 1 Gallon Storage Bag 1 Tbsp Sugar 1/2 cup Milk (Or Half and Half or Cream) 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract (Or other type of flavoring such as chocolate syrup) Ice




    Fill the gallon bag half way up with ice and mix in the salt.  Put the bag aside.  Put the sugar, milk, and vanilla in the pint storage bag.  Seal the pint bag and bury it within the ice/salt mixture.  Seal the gallon bag and shake, shake, shake for around 5 minutes.  Now you have some yummy ice cream!  Have fun trying out other flavors and ingredients!  


Honestly I truly cannot pick a favorite from this list.  All of these activities are full of fun and can be augmented and expanded upon to meet the needs and curiosity of your children.  I hope you enjoy these actives as much as we have and enjoy hours of interactive, educational, and explorative fun!