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Parents & Families

Sensory Play

Play is a child’s work. It is critical to their development. Play helps them develop new skills and explore their imagination.

Sensory play is often called messy play – for a good reason. There is so much to discover. One needs to spread out sometimes.

What parent hasn’t seen their baby play with their food? It’s squishy and fun to spread all over the high chair table. Give a toddler a big bowl of spaghetti and the freedom to play. The pasta becomes an experiment in touch, texture and gravity. Touch is a fundamental sense, right up there with taste.

Taste is a major factor for babies and young toddlers. It’s true that at this stage, almost everything goes into a child’s mouth.

Choose play things carefully. Make sure anything you put in front of your baby is taste-safe. Be aware of choking hazards. Always check the recommended age on purchased toys. Safety first!

Shell Island is an activity for children over 3 years of age.

Get the recipe for sensory sand and more ideas for sensory play below.

View/Download the PDF version here. (Right click and choose “Save Link As” to download)

Sensory Sand

Pour 1/2 cup of vegetable oil into 4 cups of whole wheat flour and knead.

Let your little one help knead the mixture.

This recipe creates a remarkable sand-like material for play. The whole wheat flour makes it look like sand. It even behaves like sand. It can be molded but crumbles under pressure.

Store clean leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for later

Crushed Crackers

Crushed crackers are great for sensory play. Put them on the high chair tray with or without accessories. Baby will play his own way.

Uncooked Taste-safe Playdough Ingredients

1 cup salt

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup cold water

3-5 drops food coloring (optional)


Step 1:  In bowl, mix salt and flour.

Step 2:  Add food coloring to water to make a bright color. (Optional)

Step 3:  Add water to dry ingredients.

Step 4:  Mix in oil and knead until smooth. Sprinkle on more flour if it is too sticky.

Step 5:  Remove from bowl and let the fun begin!

Step 6:  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes about a softball-sized dough ball.

Preparing this is a mixing, squishing sensory party for little ones. Make playdough with your preschooler to get lessons in math, science and reading while you have a blast. Learn more about playdough here.

Parents! Participate! Don’t miss out on the fun!
Always supervise your playing little ones.

View/Download the PDF version here. (Right click and choose “Save Link As” to download)

Click here to visit our Family Resource Library. You’ll find activities and tips to help you prepare your child for life.