25 Best Sensory Activities for Preschoolers

Watching my little one play with playdough for the first time was a magical experience. She poked, squeezed, and explored it with such joy. That simple activity highlighted the importance of sensory play in a child’s development. Sensory play engages a child’s senses—touch, smell, sound, and taste—in a way that is both fun and educational.

Sensory activities are crucial for preschoolers as they help them explore and understand the world around them. When children interact with different textures or listen to various sounds, they are not just having fun; they are also developing essential skills such as cognitive abilities and fine motor skills.

In this blog, we will share some of the best sensory activities for preschoolers. These activities go beyond mere play; they are instrumental in fostering growth and learning. So, let’s dive in and discover the joy and benefits of sensory play.

What is Sensory Play?

Sensory play is a type of play designed to engage and stimulate a child’s senses. It primarily focuses on touch, sight, and hearing, which are the most easily accessible senses for young children.

From an early age, children explore the world using their five senses: touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, and smelling. They also learn through movement and balance, as any active toddler demonstrates. These sensory experiences are crucial for helping children understand their environment and process new information.

Benefits of Sensory Play

The first three years of a child’s life are marked by rapid growth and development. During this period, children absorb vast amounts of information, which they transform into knowledge about their surroundings.

Sensory play provides a unique way for children to engage with the world, promoting their growth and development in several key areas:

  • Brain Development: Sensory play helps create neural connections that support complex thoughts and tasks.
  • Language Development: It encourages communication and vocabulary expansion.
  • Cognitive Growth: Children develop problem-solving skills and enhance their ability to understand and process information.
  • Motor Skills: Both fine (small movements, like picking up objects) and gross (large movements, like running and jumping) motor skills are improved through sensory activities.
  • Social Interaction: Sensory play fosters peer engagement and social skills.
  • Emotional Regulation: Activities can help children develop mindfulness and manage anxiety or anger.

Additionally, sensory play enhances observational skills, abstract thinking, and encourages experimentation.

Best Sensory Activities for Preschoolers

Sensory play is a fantastic way for preschoolers to explore and learn about the world around them. It’s often easy to set up and can provide hours of entertainment. Here are some simple and fun sensory play ideas that your toddler or preschooler will love!

Create a Sensory Bin

A sensory bin is a great way to provide hands-on learning experiences. Here’s how to make one:

1. Choose a Container: Use a small tub or container.

2. Select Materials: Fill it with natural objects like leaves, rocks, and sand, or use food items like pasta, rice, or beans.

3. Add Tools: Include spoons, scoops, and small toys for digging and discovering.

Safety Tips:

– Ensure all items are clean.

– Avoid small objects that could be choking hazards.

– Always supervise play.

Playing with Food

While it can get messy, food play is an excellent sensory experience that helps children learn about different textures, tastes, and smells. Research shows that preschoolers who engage in sensory play with fruits and vegetables are more likely to try new foods.

Food Play Ideas:

– Squish and twist noodles.

– Smear yogurt.

– Smash beans.

To manage the mess, you can separate playtime and mealtime and teach table manners as they grow older.

Sound Tubes

Sound tubes are simple to make and help children explore different sounds. Here’s how to create them:

1. Gather Materials: Use empty paper towel rolls.

2. Collect Fillings: Gather materials like uncooked rice, dried beans, or beads.

3. Assemble Tubes: Fill each tube with a different material and securely tape the ends.

Your child will enjoy discovering the different sounds each tube makes!

Play Dough

Play dough is a classic sensory play material that is easy to make or purchase.

Making Your Own Play Dough:

– There are many recipes online that use household ingredients.

– You can add colors and scents for extra fun.

Buying Play Dough:

– Premade dough is available at most stores.

– It’s soft and squishy, perfect for rolling, slicing, and chopping.

Whether homemade or store-bought, play dough offers endless possibilities for creative play.

Shadow Play

Engage children in an interactive learning experience with shadow play. Using a light source in a darkened room, children can create shadows with their hands or toys.

As they manipulate these shadows, kids are encouraged to guess the shapes they form, fostering their ability to recognize and understand different shapes and sizes.

Why it’s beneficial: This activity not only helps develop visual perception skills but also nurtures imagination and creativity. By interpreting various shapes and forms through shadows, children learn to process visual information in innovative ways.

Shadow play is an enjoyable and effective method to enhance children’s cognitive abilities while sparking their imagination.

Balance Beam

You can always head to the local park for some balance beam play, but you can also practice these skills at home with some painter’s or masking tape. Simply tape lines onto the floor and challenge your child to walk along them.

Calming Bottles

When a child feels overwhelmed, they can act out their big feelings. A calming bottle can help soothe them during these times.

To make a calming bottle, you’ll need an old water bottle, water, clear glue, food dye, and glitter. Fill the bottle with a mixture of water and clear glue, then add a few drops of food dye and some glitter. Glue the lid shut.

When your child feels upset, they can shake the bottle and watch the glitter settle as they take deep breaths.


If you want to enjoy some outdoor time, consider getting a sandbox and a few simple sand toys like shovels and cups. These basic items can spark your child’s imagination and provide hours of fun in the sun.

Swing, Swing, Swing

Swings are a playground favorite, but you can also try new ways of using them. Encourage your child to swing on their tummy like Superman. Instead of pushing from behind, gently pull their feet and release. Twist the swing in one direction and let it spin back.

If you can’t get to a park, use a blanket to create a hammock that you and another adult can gently swing back and forth.

Plant a Garden

Planting a garden together offers ongoing sensory benefits. You don’t need a large space; even planting small seeds in an egg carton can be fun.

Digging in the dirt, sorting seeds, watering, and smelling the flowers or herbs will engage your child’s senses.

Sensory Bins

Create sensory bins using everyday household items to provide a fun and stimulating activity for your child. Fill a large container with materials like rice, beans, or pasta, and add toys or tools like scoops, funnels, and small figurines. Your child can explore different textures and practice fine motor skills while playing.

Homemade Playdough

Making homemade playdough is a great way to engage your child in a sensory activity. You’ll need flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, vegetable oil, and food coloring. Mix the dry ingredients in a pot, add water, oil, and food coloring, and cook over medium heat until the dough forms.

Let it cool, then knead it until smooth. Your child can mold, squish, and create with the playdough, stimulating their sense of touch and creativity.

Bubble Play

Bubbles are a simple and magical way to entertain children. You can make your own bubble solution with water, dish soap, and a bit of glycerin.

Use bubble wands or make your own with straws and pipe cleaners. Blowing and chasing bubbles helps develop motor skills and provides visual and tactile stimulation.

Nature Walks

Take your child on nature walks to explore the outdoors. Encourage them to collect leaves, rocks, and flowers, and talk about the different textures, colors, and smells. This activity not only provides sensory stimulation but also helps them learn about the natural world.

Cooking Together

Involve your child in cooking simple recipes. They can help with measuring, stirring, and tasting ingredients. Cooking together provides sensory experiences through touch, taste, smell, and sight, and also teaches valuable life skills.

Water Play

Set up a water play station with a large container, water, and various tools like cups, spoons, and sponges. Add food coloring or a few drops of essential oil for extra sensory stimulation. Water play helps develop fine motor skills and is a calming activity for children.

Building with Blocks

Building with blocks or Legos encourages creativity and fine motor skills. Challenge your child to build different structures or follow patterns. The tactile experience of fitting pieces together and the visual stimulation of creating something new can be very engaging.

Story Time

Reading books together is a wonderful sensory activity. Choose books with different textures, flaps to lift, or sounds to play. Engage your child by asking questions about the story and encouraging them to touch and interact with the book.

Sensory Scavenger Hunt

Create a sensory scavenger hunt around your home or yard. Make a list of items for your child to find, focusing on different textures, colors, and shapes. This activity encourages exploration and sensory awareness.

Painting through Plastic

This is a mess-free way for kids to explore colors and textures. Just put a piece of paper with paint blobs into a Ziploc bag, seal it, and let your child squish the paint around through the plastic. It’s an easy way to create art without the mess.

Frozen Toys

Teach your child about hot and cold sensations by freezing miniature toys in ice. Your child can then manipulate the ice with their hands to free the toys. You can provide tools like warm water to melt the ice and make the activity even more enjoyable.

Guessing Game – What’s That?

Encourage your preschooler to use their senses to guess objects. Make a sound with an object or let them smell something and guess what it is. It’s a fun way to engage their curiosity and observational skills.

Puff Ball Sorting

Use soft, squishy puff balls to help kids learn about size and color. Pour them into a container and provide smaller containers for sorting. Kids can use tongs or plastic tweezers to pick up the puff balls, adding a fun challenge to the activity.

These activities are not only entertaining but also help kids develop important skills like sensory awareness, fine motor skills, and problem-solving.


Beading is a hands-on activity where kids can explore different textures and colors while making choices about patterns.

While older kids can use regular string and beads, younger ones may find it easier to use stiff pipe cleaners to prevent beads from slipping off.

Water Play

Water play is a fun way for kids to engage all their senses, as long as they don’t mind getting wet. If you have a baby pool, fill it up and provide cups, balls, and other household items for them to play with in the water. If you don’t have a pool, you can use tubs or pots filled with water for pouring and splashing.


Sensory activities are not only fun but also crucial for your preschooler’s development. These simple ideas can help you create engaging sensory experiences that your child will love. Remember to always supervise play and choose safe materials to ensure a positive and educational experience.

BEST Sensory Activities for Preschoolers

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