Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Have you ever noticed your tiny toddler actively exploring different objects trying to make sense of how they work?

If you are a parent of a tiny toddler you would know that they are always on their toes running around in search of new objects to interact with. 

Believe it or not, during the initial six years of their lives, children are highly dependent on their senses to comprehend how the world works and are highly susceptible to the stimuli present in the surrounding environment. 

Sensory exploration is the best way to broaden the child’s horizons, enhance their creative imagination, and allow them to embark on a journey to make sense of the world. 

Sensory activities not only facilitate sensory development in children but also help isolate each concept to set the child on the path of holistic excellence. 

Sensory activities are a fun and engaging way of proving toddlers with the requisite stimuli that allow them to explore and understand the world around them. 

If you are a parent or an immediate caregiver and are in search of interactive sensory activities for your toddler, look no further. 

Here is all you need to know about sensory activities for toddlers to help you effectively facilitate the development of all the senses of your child.

What are sensory activities?

Sensory play or sensory activities are any forms of activities that integrate components that stimulate the child’s senses. 

Sensory activities often focus on isolating and developing each of the seven senses in children i.e., visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, vestibular, and proprioception. 

Generally, most sensory activities focus on developing the basic five senses of the child, however, with time and persistence, the child is also able to develop the senses governing balance and movement. 

As a toddler begins to interact with different sensory stimuli incorporated into sensory activities, they are able to further enhance their internal sensations called interceptions.

What is the purpose of Sensory Activities for toddlers?

The chief aim of sensory activities for toddlers is to allow them to recognize, identify, differentiative, and comprehend the objects present in the world that surrounds them. 

Not only do sensory activities involving effective stimuli stimulate the child’s senses, but they also promote physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development in children. 

Sensory activities provide children with the right opportunities that prepare them for performing different tasks such as self-care activities. 

Sensory activities also promote the development and enhancement of gross motor skills as well as fine motor skills in children.

What are the benefits of Sensory Activities?

Between the developmental stages of infancy to toddlerhood, the child passes through numerous age-appropriate milestones both in terms of cognitive and physical development. 

As the child gradually develops to the preschool stage they are able to collect informative stimuli present in the surrounding environment to comprehend the workings of the world. 

Sensory Activities are a great way to introduce the toddler to unique sensorial stimuli that help isolate and develop each sense. 

Along with sensory development, when interacting, maneuvering, or manipulating the large and small components integrated into the activities, toddlers are also able to develop their fine motor skills and gross motor skills. 

Sensory activities are also a great way of developing the toddler’s computing and mathematical skills as these sensory activities allow the toddler to stack, count, compare, categorize, and sort each material based on their similarities and differences.

These activities also facilitate the development of communication skills and literary skills in toddlers, by introducing them to new vocabulary. 

Toddlers through collaborative sensory activities are also able to develop their social skills by collaborating, cooperating, and sharing their materials with their peers. 

Lastly, these activities are a gateway to broadening the child’s horizons and developing their creative imagination.

A list of the best Sensory Activities for toddlers:

Sensory activities for toddlers are a great way to introduce the meaningful self-directed open-ended play to the child. 

If you as a parent are looking for exciting sensory activities that develop and engage all these of your toddler, look no further. 

Here is a list of some of the best at-home sensory activities for toddlers that are easy to introduce and highly effective:

1. Sound Tubes:

Allow the toddler to identify and differentiate between different sounds and volumes by creating your own DIY sound tubes. 

All you need are simple paper towel tubes and small objects such as beads, beads, or rice that will produce unique sounds. 

Fill tubes up with these different materials and close both ends with a cling wrap to avoid the materials from spilling out. 

Allow your child to rattle, shake, and hear the different sounds produced by your homemade sound tubes.

2. Balance Boards:

Balance boards are one exciting way of enhancing your child’s gross motor skills through productive play. 

A Balance Board is a curved wooden board usually meant for preschoolers or toddlers to play with. 

These boards are great for physical activities, exercise activities, and the child’s overall entertainment. 

Synonymously known as Wobble Boards, Balance Boards are a versatile way of developing the child’s gross motor skills, developing balance, improving the child’s posture, and strengthening their core muscles. 

Balance boards are great for young children and toddlers as they allow the child to strengthen and develop your child in a fun way. 

3. Play dough:

What better way to develop the toddler’s tactile sense than by introducing soft, squishy, and colorful play dough? 

You can either create your own homemade playdough or purchase fun and colorful playdough sets online. 

The soft and moldable texture of play dough provides children with a unique sensorial experience. 

Encourage your child to roll, chop, knead, and cut the play dough or even create their own unique artwork.

4. Gardening:

Gardening activities are the best way to bring your toddler one step closer to mother nature. 

Encourage your toddler to get their hands dirty in the mud and plant their very own garden.

 This Sensory activity not only will promote sensory development but also give them a sense of fulfillment.

It is as simple as bringing out the egg carton and planting some seeds into the egg compartments to create your miniature garden. 

Other activities such as playing in the dirt, smelling plants or herbs, and watering plants are also fun ways of stimulating the child’s senses.

5. Water play:

Ever seen your tiny toddler excitedly jump into a puddle or a pool, if yes then it is your chance to provide your toddler with a sensory activity that integrates their love for the water.

Whether it is a baby pool or a tub filled with water and marine figurines, there is no harm in playing with water. 

Water play activities are a fun way to promote the development of gross motor skills and sensory development.

6. Sensory Bottles:

Sensory bottles are a great and efficient way of developing the child’s visual sense. All you need are simple plastic bottles you would like to upcycle, water, glitters, food colorings, and tiny objects to facilitate visual stimulation.

Allow your child to explore new sounds, colors, and shapes by shaking and maneuvering the bottles.

7. Painting:

Painting can be a great way to enhance the child’s visual sense and fine motor skills. This sensory activity for toddlers is simple, fun, and do not panic, completely mess-free!

All you need is plastic zip-lock bags and colored paints for the child to explore and play with. 

It is as simple as slipping inside a piece of paper and adding some colorful paints to the zip-lock bags, and you are good to go. 

Allow your child to squish the pain around through the zip-lock bag to create their very own masterpiece.

8. Shaving Cream:

This sensory activity for toddlers is a great way to keep them busy and engaged for hours on end. 

It is as simple as adding some foaming shaving cream into tin foil and allowing the child to squish the foil with their hands. 

Not only is this activity engaging and exciting for the child to partake in, but it is also a great way to develop the child’s fine motor skills.

9. Sensory Bins:

This sensory activity allows your child to immerse themselves in an engaging sensorial experience.

It is as simple as filling up a child-sized bin with different objects with different textures and varied dimensions such as rocks, sticks, pebbles, or fabrics for the child to play with. 

You can also provide the child with food-related materials such as beans, pasta, and rice. 

It is important to clean out the materials incorporated into the bins before the child begins to play with them.

10. Tasting Bottles:

Tasting Bottles are a great way of developing your toddler’s gustatory sense, sorting skills, and fine motor skills. 

This activity develops the child’s sorting skills by promoting them to identify, distinguish, and match two sets of same-tasting bottles. 

The Tasting bottles stimulate, develop, and refine the child’s gustatory sense and help the child identify and isolate different tastes. 

The child has to identify the taste and pair the matching bottles. These Tasting Bottles include 4 fundamental tastes: Salty, Sweet, bitter, and Sour.
The adult must fill the tasting bottles with four fundamental tastes using a dropper. The fundamentals tastes can be easily achieved:  

Salty: For a salty taste, salt is mixed with water

Sweet: For a sweet taste, Sugar is mixed with water 

Bitter: Tonic water is used

Sour: For a sour taste, Lemon is mixed in water

11. Puff Ball Sorting:

Lastly, the Puff ball sorting sensory activity is a great way of facilitating fine motor development and the development of sorting skills in toddlers. 

All you need are some bowls and different color puffed balls for the child to sort Place the balls in random order on a table and instruct your child to sort each ball based on colors. 

To simplify things for toddlers you can add a tiny paint dot on the bowls demarcating and denoting which color is to be categorized where.