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Fun With Sensory Play

Nice weather is a great opportunity to move the mess outside. We hope you enjoy this list of some hands-on sensory play ideas, with ideas for extension activities to stimulate language and cognitive development!

1. Volcano explosions: Put a few tablespoons of baking soda in a cup. Then, have your child make a prediction - what will happen when a small amount of vinegar is added? Pour in the vinegar and watch the mixture bubble and overflow! Was their prediction right or wrong? For added fun, build a simple volcano out of clay, paper mache, cardboard, paper or other material and place the cup inside. Watch as the "lava" flows out of the opening and down the volcano!

Activity idea: Pair this with toy dinosaurs and make them run for cover! This is great practice for verbs like run, jump, hide, etc.

2. Soapy suds: Fill up a water table, bathtub, sink, or any type of basin with water. Add soap (preferably a children's bubble bath or a no-tear children's body wash/shampoo in case of contact with eyes).

Activity ideas: Give dolls or other toys a bath, wash dishes, or collect different household items to see if they sink or float!

3. Color mixing: You can do this with water, finger paints, or even gooey Oobleck. Simply pour or mix several cups and add in drops of different food coloring.

Activity ideas: Have your child identify and label the colors, or match the color to something in the environment (e.g. "This water is yellow like that sunflower). Mix primary colors and see what happens! Blue and red make purple...what other colors can they make?

4. Oobleck: Start by reading Dr. Suess' "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" to introduce and build up anticipation for making this gooey mixture. It is not truly a liquid or a solid, as it acts differently depending on the pressure you apply. It is so fun and will keep little ones occupied for hours! For added entertainment, make several different bowls of Oobleck, each a different color.

Activity ideas: See cues for color mixing! Invite your child to problem-solve: how do they make the mixture go from liquid to solid, then back to liquid?


1 1/2 cup corn starch

1 cup water

3 tablespoons tempera paint (optional)

5. Slime: We love using this easy-to-make substance for sensory play. Stretch it, squeeze it, roll it, knead will keep anyone busy!

Activity idea: Just like with the Oobleck, incorporate color learning into this activity! It's also a great opportunity for using vocabulary to describe: What does this substance look like, feel like, and smell like?


1/2 cup shampoo

1/4 cup cornstarch

~6 tbs water

food coloring (optional)

6. Dough: Activities that include kids and flour typically result in a huge mess, but doesn't the fun make it worth it? Using the recipe below, help your little one knead the mixture until dough is formed.

Activity idea: For added (delicious) fun, roll out and bake this no-yeast dough at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes (or until golden brown) to make pizza!


2 1/2 cup flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water

optional: mix 1 tsp honey into the warm water before adding

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