Sensory play is great for kids of all ages, it helps develop their sensory engagement and imagination. However a lot of parents are intimidated by it, and I get it! In a world of Instagram perfect pictures, it can seem like a lot of work to set up, and potentially a lot of mess to pack away. But it’s actually quite a simple activity and there are so many ways you can nail the perfect sensory play set up. I thought I’d start by sharing some easy sensory play bases that most people will have lying around the house, or can easily pick up from the local shopping centre. When you combine these bases with some of the toys you are bound to have lying around the house (animals, cars, blocks, magnets, play food) you’ll find you’ve just set up your first sensory play activity.
Getting set up
Before you get started, you’ll need to work out what you’re setting up your sensory play in. Anything that has a shallow depth and a child can easily play in will work! It could be a serving tray, baking dish, water play table or a plastic storage tub. If you’re looking to really invest in sensory play, the IKEA Flisat children’s table combined with the IKEA Trofast tubs is perfectly designed for your sensory play needs.
If you’re just starting out with sensory play, a great way to dip your toes into the water is to raid your pantry. There are so many fabulous sensory items already at your finger tips! I love to use pearl couscous, pasta shapes, oats, coconut and lentils. Other fun things include cocoa, flour, cereal, popping corn and coffee beans.
Your local discount store or craft supply store is a sensory play mecca! Anything you can buy in large quantities is a perfect addition to your sensory stash. Some of my favourites include pom poms, water beads and feathers. Other great options include cotton wool, kinetic sand, confetti, river rocks, raffia or straw, marbles and bird seed! Don’t forget to keep any packing chips you get from parcels – these are great for sensory play and also dissolve in water!
Do It Yourself
For those who are wanting to take their sensory bases up a notch, there are some great DIY options to add a twist to your basics. Adding food colouring is the first easy step – add a few drops to your rice or pasta and you’re now dealing with colours! Cook up your lentils or pearl couscous, and now you’ve got a different texture and you can add colour too! Kids burning through the kinetic sand and costing you a fortune? Why not make some moon sand – simply add 1 cup of oil (vegetable or baby oil) to 8 cups of flour and mix together well. Now you can mould shapes from your flour and it also won’t leave dusty footprints on your floors!! Shred some newspaper, empty your hole puncher, cut up some straws – the DIY options are endless!
Save and keep!
Save a copy of this list for next time you’re trying to think of something to play with!