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What are Sensory Activities?

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Sensory activities are engaging tasks designed to stimulate a child's senses. They involve a range of actions and materials that encourage children to use their senses of touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste to explore their environment.

Why Are They Important?

Sensory play is fundamental for cognitive growth, motor skills development, problem-solving abilities, and social interaction. It aids in building nerve connections in the brain's pathways and supports language development. These activities are also instrumental in developing and enhancing memory functioning and are a natural way for children to learn critical sensory attributes like hot, cold, sticky, and dry.

7 Sensory Activities for Infants and Preschoolers

Touch and Feel Box

Touch and Feel Box - Sensory Activities

How to Make:

  1. Take any box with a lid and cut a small hole in the top.

  2. Fill it with a variety of objects such as fabrics, kitchen sponges, dry pasta, and other household items with different textures.

Why It’s Fun: Kids love the mystery and anticipation of discovering what's inside!

How It Helps:

  1. Encourages descriptive language and vocabulary building.

  2. Enhances tactile recognition without relying on visual cues.

Play Dough

How to Make:

  1. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of water, and food coloring in a mixing bowl.

  2. Stir until it forms a dough and then knead it on a floured surface.

Why It’s Fun: Squishing, rolling, and shaping allow endless creativity!

How It Helps:

  1. Develops fine motor skills as children manipulate the dough.

  2. Encourages imaginative play and can be a calming sensory experience.

Nature Walks

How to Make:

  1. Go outside and let your child explore, collecting items like leaves, sticks, rocks, and flowers.

  2. Create a 'nature tray' at home to revisit and talk about their finds.

Why It’s Fun: It turns a simple walk into a scavenger hunt!\

How It Helps:

  1. Promotes scientific thinking and observation skills.

  2. Enhances sensory awareness and appreciation for the natural world.

Finger Painting

How to Make:

  1. Set up a workspace with large sheets of paper and non-toxic, washable paints.

  2. Encourage your child to use their fingers and hands to paint.

Why It’s Fun: There’s something thrilling about making art with your hands!

How It Helps:

  1. Stimulates touch and can be a great sensory outlet for emotions.

  2. Introduces color mixing and artistic concepts.

Music and Movement

How to Make:

  1. Play a variety of music and encourage your child to move, dance, or use homemade instruments to create their sounds.

  2. Use ribbons or scarves to visualize the music through movement.

Why It’s Fun: Kids naturally love to move and groove to music!

How It Helps:

  1. Improves auditory processing and rhythm.

  2. Encourages gross motor skills and coordination.

Edible Sandbox

How to Make:

  1. Fill a shallow container with edible items like rice, beans, or cereal.

  2. Add cups, spoons, or small toys for scooping and digging.

Why It’s Fun: Like a traditional sandbox, but with a tasty twist!

How It Helps:

  1. Enhances fine motor skills through pouring and scooping.

  2. Introduces concepts of volume and cause and effect.


How to Make:

  1. Create a storyboard with different textures (felt, sandpaper, cotton) attached to each segment of the story.

  2. As you tell the story, guide your child to touch the different textures.

Why It’s Fun: It adds a tactile dimension to storytime!

How It Helps:

  1. Reinforces language and cognitive connections with sensory input.

  2. Supports narrative understanding and memory recall.


Sensory activities are more than just play; they're a vital part of a child's learning and development. By engaging in these activities, children learn to process sensory information and begin to understand the diverse world around them. Each of these seven sensory play ideas offers unique benefits that help in shaping young minds. So, get ready to set the stage for a sensory-rich playtime that your preschoolers will love!

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