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Sensory Play Ideas to Encourage Hands on Learning



Sensory play activities play a huge role in supporting language development, encouraging the development of core motor skills, and encouraging problem solving in children of all ages.


Facilitating learning through exploration, curiosity, and creativity, there’s a whole host of sensory play ideas that play a huge role in encouraging hands on learning.


What is a sensory play activity?


A sensory activity is anything that involves your littles ones using their five senses - touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing, to facilitate exploration through play activities.


And Sensory activities for children can be messy, engaging and incredibly fun, especially hands on activities which encourage babies, toddlers and children of all ages to develop cognitively, socially and emotionally.


We’ve rounded up some of our favourite hands on sensory play ideas for your favourite humans to explore and discover.


Fluffy Textured Bubble Bath


All kids love bubble bath. Let’s face it, big kids love it too! And fluffy textured bubble bath is a great way for your little ones to immerse themselves in hands on sensory play.


Simply use a hand mixer to mix bubble bath and water in order to create a fluffy texture that your kids will love getting to grips with. To add a new and exciting dimension to this sensory play activity, you can even add in some food colouring.


Now add some of your little one’s favourite toys into the mix or even plastic kitchen utensils and they will enjoy hours of fun!


Calming Sensory Bottles


Calming sensory bottles are perfect for kids who easily become overwhelmed by their emotions. Simply fill water bottles with water, soap, glitter and beads, and you will be able to create a hypnotic effect as the items you have added float and move around the bottle.


You can experiment with lots of different liquids and items to create different effects.


Mystery Texture Sensory Box


All kids love this one! And no, it’s not a game from “I’m a celebrity get me out of here!” but it does follow the same concept, without the creepy crawlies.


Simply grab some boxes, make sure that there is an entry point where your kids can put their hands in without seeing what is in the box and fill it up with different items, preferably those that have a unique texture. Now simple get your little one to place their hands inside the box and ask them to describe what they feel, without peeking!



Water and Oil Bags


Water and oil bags are also a great way to facilitate hands on play and they can also be incredibly calming. Simply combine oil and water in a secure bottle or bag and encourage your kids to shake the bottle. Watching the water and the oil slowly separate is mesmerising and a great distraction for kids that need stimulated whilst travelling or in stressful situations or environments.



Paint with Shaving Cream



Shaving cream has long been used an effective hand on sensory play material! This is because it’s incredibly versatile and kids love the fluffy texture. A great way to make the most of shaving foam through sensory play is to get creative with it. For example, by adding food colouring to it, you can get your little ones to paint with it!


Simply add a few drops of food colouring and stir it to colour the shaving cream in various shades, set out paper and paint brushes and let your kids use their hands to paint different shapes or pictures.



Happy Feet Sensory Play Mats


Happy Feet play mats aren’t just good for barefoot play – they can be used for hands on sensory play too. With their different textures, as well as hard and soft mats, our sensory play mats can be incorporated into any hands on play activity!

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