Sensory Activities for Toddlers
June 29, 2024

Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Unleash the magic with sensory activities for toddlers! Engage their senses and watch their curiosity soar. Discover the best sensory play ideas!

Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Engaging in sensory activities is not only a fun way for toddlers to explore their world but also plays a vital role in their overall development. These activities stimulate their senses, allowing them to learn, discover, and make sense of the world around them. Understanding the importance of sensory activities and the benefits they offer is key to providing a well-rounded and enriching experience for toddlers.

Understanding the Importance of Sensory Activities

Sensory activities are crucial for toddlers as they help to enhance their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. Through sensory play, toddlers are able to engage their senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste, which in turn stimulates their brain development. These activities provide opportunities for toddlers to explore different textures, sounds, colors, and scents, promoting their sensory processing skills.

By engaging in sensory activities, toddlers can develop their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness. They also learn cause and effect relationships, problem-solving skills, and develop their creativity and imagination. Sensory activities provide a multisensory experience that encourages toddlers to actively explore and engage with their environment.

Benefits of Sensory Activities for Toddlers

There are numerous benefits that sensory activities offer toddlers. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Cognitive Development: Sensory activities stimulate brain development and enhance cognitive skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory.
  2. Language Development: Through sensory play, toddlers have opportunities to engage in conversations, describe their sensory experiences, and expand their vocabulary.
  3. Social and Emotional Development: Sensory activities promote social interaction, cooperation, turn-taking, and sharing among toddlers, fostering their social skills. These activities also provide a calming and soothing effect, supporting emotional regulation.
  4. Physical Development: Sensory play involves various movements, which contribute to the development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and gross motor skills.
  5. Sensory Processing Skills: Engaging in sensory activities helps toddlers develop their sensory processing skills, enabling them to better interpret and respond to sensory information.

It's important to remember that every child is unique, and their preferences and abilities may vary. What works for one toddler may not be suitable for another. It's essential to observe and adapt activities to meet each child's individual needs and interests.

Exploring the Senses

Engaging in sensory activities is an excellent way to stimulate a toddler's senses and promote their cognitive and physical development. By exploring various sensory experiences, toddlers can enhance their sensory processing skills and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them. Let's dive into activities that target each of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Activities to Stimulate the Sense of Sight

  1. Color Sorting: Provide a tray or a set of cups in different colors and encourage your toddler to sort objects based on their colors. This activity enhances color recognition and visual discrimination skills.
  2. Nature Scavenger Hunt: Take your toddler on a nature walk and encourage them to find objects of different colors, such as flowers, leaves, or rocks. This activity promotes observation and visual exploration.

Activities to Engage the Sense of Hearing

  1. Musical Instruments: Introduce your toddler to various musical instruments, such as drums, shakers, or xylophones. Allow them to explore the sounds and create their own rhythms, fostering auditory discrimination and rhythm recognition.
  2. Sound Guessing Game: Play different sounds, such as animal noises or household sounds, and encourage your toddler to guess what they are. This activity sharpens auditory memory and sound recognition skills.

Activities to Stimulate the Sense of Touch

  1. Sensory Bins: Create a sensory bin filled with materials of different textures, such as rice, sand, or water beads. Let your toddler explore the textures by using their hands or small tools. This activity enhances tactile perception and fine motor skills.
  2. Texture Walk: Set up a texture walk by placing different textured materials, like bubble wrap, fabric, or foam, on the floor. Encourage your toddler to walk barefoot or with socks to experience the different sensations under their feet.

Activities to Engage the Sense of Smell

  1. Scented Playdough: Make scented playdough using essential oils or food extracts. Your toddler can engage in molding and shaping while exploring different scents. This activity promotes olfactory discrimination and fine motor skills.
  2. Smell Guessing Game: Gather a variety of scented items, such as fruits, herbs, or spices. Blindfold your toddler and let them smell an item, then guess what it is. This game enhances olfactory memory and identification skills.

Activities to Stimulate the Sense of Taste

  1. Taste Testing: Offer your toddler a variety of safe and age-appropriate foods with different tastes, such as sweet, sour, salty, or bitter. Encourage them to taste and describe the flavors. This activity develops gustatory discrimination and vocabulary skills.
  2. Cooking Together: Involve your toddler in simple cooking activities where they can help mix ingredients, taste different flavors, and learn about the process of preparing food. This hands-on experience fosters a positive relationship with food and encourages exploration of different tastes.

By engaging in these sensory activities, toddlers can explore and develop their senses in a fun and interactive way. Remember to always supervise your toddler during these activities and choose age-appropriate materials. For more sensory activity ideas, check out their article on sensory play ideas for toddlers.

DIY Sensory Activities

Engaging in do-it-yourself (DIY) sensory activities can be a wonderful way to stimulate your toddler's senses and promote their overall development. These hands-on activities can be easily created at home using simple materials and provide endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Here are a few popular DIY sensory activities that are sure to captivate your toddler:

Sensory Bins and Sensory Tables

Sensory bins and sensory tables are fantastic sensory play setups that allow toddlers to dive into a world of textures, colors, and objects. A sensory bin is typically a container filled with a base material, such as rice, sand, or water beads, along with various objects like scoops, cups, and toys. A sensory table, on the other hand, is a larger play surface that provides more room for exploration.

These DIY setups encourage tactile stimulation and fine motor development as children dig, pour, and manipulate the items within the bin or table. You can theme the sensory bins or tables based on your toddler's interests, such as a farm-themed bin with toy animals and dried corn kernels or a beach-themed table with kinetic sand and seashells.

Sensory Bottles and Sensory Bags

Sensory bottles and sensory bags offer a mesmerizing visual experience for toddlers while engaging their sense of sight and touch. These items are typically filled with various materials, such as water, glitter, beads, or small objects, and sealed tightly to prevent leakage or spills. Sensory bottles are made of clear plastic containers, while sensory bags are transparent pouches filled with sensory materials.

These DIY sensory tools provide calming and soothing effects as toddlers observe the movement of objects or textures within the bottle or bag. You can create sensory bottles with different themes, such as a glitter bottle for visual stimulation or a sensory bag filled with colored gel for squishing and squeezing. Remember to always supervise your toddler while using these items to ensure their safety. Learn more about sensory crafts for toddlers in their article on sensory crafts for toddlers.

Sensory Play with Textures

Engaging your toddler in sensory play with textures is a fantastic way to stimulate their sense of touch and promote sensory exploration. You can create DIY sensory materials using a variety of textures, such as soft fabrics, rough surfaces, smooth objects, or squishy materials. For example, you can prepare a touch and feel box filled with different textured fabrics or create a sensory board with various materials adhered to it.

Encourage your toddler to touch, feel, and explore the different textures, describing the sensations they experience. This activity helps develop their tactile discrimination skills and enhances their sensory processing abilities. 

Engaging in these DIY sensory activities with your toddler not only provides them with hours of entertainment but also supports their cognitive, physical, and emotional development. Remember to always choose age-appropriate materials and supervise your toddler during sensory play to ensure their safety and enjoyment.

Outdoor Sensory Activities

Taking sensory activities outdoors can provide toddlers with a whole new world of exploration and stimulation. Engaging their senses in nature can foster a deeper connection to the environment and enhance their overall sensory development. Here are some wonderful outdoor sensory activities to captivate and engage toddlers:

Nature Walks and Scavenger Hunts

Nature walks are a fantastic way to introduce toddlers to the sights, sounds, and textures of the natural world. Take them to a nearby park, forest, or even your backyard. Encourage them to observe and explore their surroundings, pointing out interesting objects they come across, such as colorful flowers, unique leaves, or fascinating insects. You can create a scavenger hunt by making a list of items for them to find, like a pinecone, a feather, or a smooth rock. This activity not only stimulates their sense of sight and touch but also fosters their curiosity and appreciation for nature.

Water Play and Sand Play

Water play and sand play are classic outdoor sensory activities that toddlers absolutely love. Set up a water table or a shallow basin filled with water and provide cups, funnels, and water toys for them to splash and experiment with. This activity stimulates their sense of touch and provides a soothing and cooling sensory experience. Similarly, sand play offers opportunities for tactile exploration. Set up a sand table or a designated area with sand and provide buckets, shovels, and molds for them to dig, build, and explore. Playing with sand engages their sense of touch and allows them to experience different textures.

Sensory Garden Exploration

Create a sensory garden in your backyard or visit a local botanical garden that offers a sensory garden specifically designed to engage the senses. A sensory garden typically includes a variety of plants with different colors, textures, and scents. Encourage toddlers to touch and smell the plants, describing the different sensations they experience. This activity stimulates their sense of touch and smell and helps them develop an appreciation for the natural world.

By incorporating outdoor sensory activities into your toddler's routine, you can provide them with valuable sensory experiences that promote their overall development. Whether it's going on nature walks, engaging in water play and sand play, or exploring sensory gardens, these activities offer endless opportunities for toddlers to learn, discover, and have fun in the great outdoors. Remember to always supervise toddlers during outdoor activities and ensure that the environment and materials are safe and age-appropriate.

Safety Considerations

When engaging in sensory activities with toddlers, it's crucial to prioritize their safety and well-being. Here are some important safety considerations to keep in mind:

Supervision and Age-Appropriate Activities

Toddlers should always be supervised during sensory play to ensure their safety. While sensory activities can be highly beneficial for their development, it's essential to choose activities that are appropriate for their age and developmental stage. Activities should be carefully selected to avoid any choking hazards or potential injuries.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when supervising and selecting age-appropriate activities:

  • Always have an adult present to monitor the child during sensory play.
  • Choose activities that are suitable for their age group, taking into account their physical and cognitive abilities.
  • Be mindful of small parts or loose materials that could pose a choking hazard.
  • Avoid activities that involve sharp objects or potentially harmful substances.
  • Regularly inspect the play area for any potential safety hazards.

Choosing Safe Materials and Equipment

Using safe materials and equipment is vital to ensure the well-being of toddlers during sensory activities. Here are some considerations when selecting materials and equipment:

  • Use non-toxic and child-safe materials that are free from harmful chemicals.
  • Ensure that any paints, glues, or dyes used are labeled as safe for children.
  • Opt for materials that are age-appropriate and do not pose a risk of injury, such as sharp edges or small parts.
  • Regularly inspect materials for wear and tear, and replace any damaged items.
  • Avoid using materials that may cause allergies or skin irritations.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Sensory Toys and Tools

Maintaining clean and hygienic sensory toys and tools is essential to prevent the spread of germs and ensure the well-being of toddlers. Here are some tips for cleaning and sanitizing sensory toys and tools:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning specific toys or tools.
  • Use mild soap and water to clean plastic or washable toys.
  • For toys that cannot be submerged in water, use disinfectant wipes or sprays to sanitize them.
  • Regularly wash fabric-based sensory items, such as cloth sensory bags, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Allow toys and tools to dry thoroughly before allowing toddlers to play with them again.

By adhering to these safety considerations, you can create a safe and enjoyable sensory play environment for toddlers. Remember to always prioritize their well-being and choose age-appropriate activities and materials. 


Are sensory activities safe for toddlers?

Yes, sensory activities are generally safe for toddlers as long as they are supervised and the materials used are appropriate for their age. Avoid small objects that may pose a choking hazard and choose non-toxic materials.

Can sensory activities help with my toddler's behavior?

Yes, sensory activities can help your toddler regulate their emotions and behavior. Engaging in sensory play can be calming and soothing for some children, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.

Do I need special equipment for sensory activities?

No, you don't need any special equipment for most sensory activities. Many can be done with everyday household items such as water, rice, or play dough. However, there are some specialized tools such as fidget toys or weighted blankets that may be helpful for some children.

How often should I do sensory activities with my toddler?

There is no set frequency for doing sensory activities with your toddler. You can incorporate them into your daily routine as often as you like. Some parents find it helpful to have a designated time each day or week to engage in sensory play.

What if my child doesn't seem interested in the activity?

Not all children will enjoy every type of sensory activity. If your child seems disinterested or uncomfortable during an activity, try something else. It's important to follow your child's lead and provide a variety of options that suit their interests and abilities.


Sensory activities are an excellent way to engage your toddler's senses while promoting learning and development. By incorporating these simple hands-on activities into your daily routine, you can help support your child's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth. Remember to always supervise your child during these activities and choose materials that are safe and appropriate for their age.


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