Sensory play

I’ve been thinking about sensory play – what is it? can I introduce it at toddler group? I don’t know about you but I love the idea of children making discoveries by looking and touching. While I was deliberating about where to start I got to thinking about my own childhood. What sort of sensory play did I experience all those years ago – before anyone called it sensory play.

I think it’s fair to say that as a toddler I had a fair amount of time at home and a lot less toys than my own children grew up with. So my mum improvised. I remember being allowed to play with the button box. It was a actually an old biscuit tin full of buttons – different colours, textures, sizes. Sensory play.

Today it has a name and is maybe organised with more intent – my mum probably gave me the button box to play with because it kept me busy while she got on with the ironing.

So, sensory play at toddler group. Where to begin? We won’t be using buttons as children can easily choke on them. We don’t have sand or water play as there isn’t the space (although in the painting area washing hands is almost like water play sometimes). But, we can have sensory bottles. They are a good place to start.


I had a lovely time pottering about Pinterest for ideas and these bottles were the result. I used small Oasis bottles. Most were filled with coloured water to about half way and then oil – the yellow oil is vegetable oil and the whiter oil is baby oil. Then I added glitter and bits and bobs – beads, loom bands, pompoms, sequins. Two bottles are plain water and lots of loom bands.

To secure the lids I used super glue.

Thses bottles were a big hit at toddler group – with both children and adults. Lots to see, lots to talk about and wonder about as you watch the bubbles and colours.

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let’s play with dough..



I love playdough, especially the homemade variety. It’s relatively cheap and lasts a long time and gives hours of fun and creativity.

You can make characters from Bible stories with it, add it to laminated print outs, make shapes – anything. It’s great for young children to practice their fine motor skills and exercise their hand muscles ready for writing and drawing. It’s also good for keeping children focused on a sustained activity – they often willingly concentrate on playdough for quite a while.

The above playdough is a no cook recipe – it uses boiling water so has to be made by an adult.


1 cup  flour

1/4 cup salt

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (don’t use a nut oil in case children are allergic)

3/4 cup boiling water

Food colouring paste or ready mix water colour paint for colour

To make add all the dry ingredients to a mixer and then add the oil, boiling water and colouring and mix till a soft dough.

I tripled this amount to make the different colours in the picture.



I added some vanilla extract but I’m not sure it’s worth it – I think you would have to add a lot to really notice a vanilla scent and that would be quite expensive.

I had a play with the dough – a simple tree laminated – here’s a free tree PDF Tree I made an autumnal tree and an apple tree.


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