Sensory Play- For all ages & under $5!

Updated: Jan 26, 2019

Today I took Lyric to the library for story time, made a pit stop at the park and then ran some errands around town. We got home and as I laid him down for his first nap of the day I thought to myself; "Did I do enough with him?" "Did I even teach him anything today?" "Were we indoors to much?"

Do you ever think this to yourself? WAIT. Let me rephrase that, I know you think that to yourself and I'm here to tell you, You're not alone! MOM GULTY IS THE WORST! We could literally do everything in the world with our kids and at the end of the day we will still feel like we didn't do enough. That's just the harsh reality of motherhood.

As a first time mom I wanted to take full advantage and utilize every opportunity I had to stay home with my baby and teach him new things. But at the end of the day, what the heck are you suppose to do? Your tired from having a newborn or toddler, the dishes are piled up and the floors need to be mopped. The day passes and you quickly realize "What did we even do today?" Well, I'm here to help you and give you a little guidance with some fun and easy Sensory Play for your baby or toddler to do!

Why is sensory play so important?

Sensory Play is important for multiple reasons. For one, It stimulates your childs senses through touch, smell, taste, movement, sight and hearing. It also stimulates exploration and their ability to create and play with different scientific methods. They are born into this world with an open mind and the ability to learn new things, so lets teach them! Let them squish the slimy pasta between their fingers, taste the gritty sand and most importantly let them explore their surroundings. This is such a HUGE part in a childs development to enhance their senses which in turn enhances their fine motor skills.

CAUTION: I'm no doctor, but here are a few things we've done and are currently doing to continue his sensory skills. Please always use precaution when small children are exploring with sensory material. Use your parental discretion when deciding if any of these activities are right for your child based on their age and developmental abilities. I hope you follow along and can pick up a few helpful activities!


  • Tummy Time- We tried to do tummy time twice a day for 10 minutes each time. This is such an important thing to do at their age because it helps build head, neck and shoulder strength. I would also periodically do little leg movements such as bicycles and the kicking motion with his feet.

  • Music- Turn on some music! Babies love to listen to music and it stimulates their auditory senses! I wish I could say I'm classy and play sweet, soft and inspiring music for my baby but that would be a complete lie. I actually love Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G with a little Pretty Ricky mixed in soo... there's that!

  • Toys- I tried to interact as much as I could when Lyric was awake. I would get toys that made crinkle noises, toys that would light up or play music. I would often move the toy around to see if his eyes or head would try to follow the sound. This is a great introduction to the different senses by showing them the different interactions between each toy or item.


  • Water-Bead Baggy- This was one of the first things I did when Lyric was able to hold his head steady and once he began developing an interaction with things. I bought a huge container of water beads on Amazon for $5 (BUY HERE) and let me tell ya, they last forever! Lyric is 1 years old and we still have a full bag and we used them often. I followed the directions on the container by soaking the water beads in ( you guessed it) water! Once they absorbed all the water I transferred them to a gallon size zip lock baggy and squeezed as much air out as I could. I put him in his little portable high chair and let his squish the beads around the bag. He was mesmerized by the different colors and seeing the beads move in all different directions. If you don't have a portable high chair you can lay them on their tummy and place the baggy in front of them and have them reach out and touch the bag. This includes 2 different senses: Moving the beads around with his fingers (touch), seeing the different colors move around (sight)

  • Paint In A Bag- I loved this activity and so did Lyric. Just like the water beads, he was mesmerized by the colors and the fact that he could move them around. All I did was add three different paint colors to a zip lock bag and tape it to his portable high chair ( and when I say portable high chair this is what I mean: SEE IMAGE BELOW. Its not a high chair but its not a Bumbo because it has a tray. ) He spent so much time just moving the colors all around and watching the colors mix. This touches on 3 different senses: Moving the paint around with his finger (touch), seeing the different colors move around (sight), and hearing the zip lock bag crinkle as he moved his hand around it (sound.)

  • Water And Oil Bag- This is so cool!!! I actually haven't done this since Lyric was about 5 months old (He's a year old now) but I'm thinking about doing this again because it's just so awesome! You take a gallon size zip lock bag, pour in a bunch of baby oil, add a few drops of food coloring and the slowly add a little bit of water. Try to get as much air out of the bag as you can so when your babe squeezes the bag it doesn't pop. The key to this project is to add the baby oil first and then the water. Do not add the water first or it won't separate properly. This project utilizes 3 senses as well: They touch the bag with the jiggly water (touch), They watch the water and colored oil separate and create different shapes and designs (sight) and they hear the crinkling of the bag (sound).

  • Rice Feetsies- Once you start putting your babe in their bouncer or play gym you HAVE to try this. Get a big plastic bin or pan that you have laying around the house, fill it with dry rice ( I got a big bag at the Dollar Tree ) and place it under their feet. As they kick around and feel the rice it starts to become a game to them. Its a great touch sensory project!

  • Sensory Board- So I can't actually take any type of credit for this because I saw this on the Honest Companies page and knew I had to try it. I got a flap from a cardboard box hot glued our old wipe container tops on and added my sensory items. I did a plastic grocery bag, a bunch of fluff balls and some rope for him to pullout. He loves it and actually still plays with it to this day. This includes 3 out of the 5 senses: Touch, sight and sound.


  • Small Bucket With Water Beads- We actually still do this activity to this day. Lyric loves him some water beads! Please be careful because they are definitely a choking hazard. Lyric tries to put them in his mouth ALL the time, so what I found to work for us during this sensory play is popping a binky in his mouth. That way he doesn't have the urge to put the beads in there. Anyways, I bought a huge container of water beads on Amazon for $5 (BUY HERE) and let me tell ya, they last forever! Lyric is now 1 and we still have almost a full bag AND we used them often. I soaked the waterbeds in water and then I transferred it to a big tub/ bucket for him to stick his hands in, glide his fingers through the beads and squeeze them until they pop. Now if you have essentials oils that would be a great thing to add to the water beads! Do a couple drops of citrus, grapefruit, orange or lemon! This adds an extra element to the sensory activity. (ClICK TO BUY ESSENTIAL OIL KIT) He loved digging through the beads, his favorite ones are the clear beads, I'm assuming he finds excitement in the challenge of searching for a clear bead. SO cute! Ps: Lyric has pretty sensitive skin and although water beads are safe, I noticed it leaves his hands feeling dry and even mine too! So make sure you wash and lotion them up afterwards! This touches on 4 different senses: Moving the paint around with his finger (touch), seeing the different colors move around (sight), smelling the aroma of the essential oil (smell), and hearing the different colors you repeat as they pick them up (sound.)

  • Find The Ball- I honestly can't believe how smart babies are. If your consistent and you dedicate some one-on-one time to teach them, they catch on so fast! Which brings me to this fun sensory play! You will need 3 containers or cups that are all different solid colors, NO SEE THROUGH! You can use more cups or containers if you would like but I found three to be the perfect amount; you don't want to overwhelm them or give them more to focus on. Keep it clean and simple. I did three cups, all different colors ( red, yellow and blue) and one ball. I placed the ball under the blue cup and showed him which cup it was under and kept repeating the color. Then I moved the cups around while still keeping the ball under the blue cup. Once I was done moving the cups I told him to get the ball under the blue cup. It took him a few tries to catch onto the process but after that he got every one of them right. I kept switching the ball into different colors so he wouldn't just memorize. This utilizes sight, touch and sound!

  • Cool Whip- I actually haven't tried this one but it was on my list of things to do. Maybe one day I'll get around to it but for now, I'll live bicarelessly through you! Take a big plastic bin or pan (the Dollar Tree has great options) add some of the Cool Whip to the bin, add a few drops of food coloring and let them go to town. This uses all of their senses; They can feel around the cool whip and squish it between their hands (touch), they can eat the cool whip (taste), they can visualize the different colors (sight), They smell the sweetness coming from the Cool Whip (taste) and lastly they listen as you repeat the colors back to them (sound).

  • Ice Cube Bin- Use an ice tray, add the water and a few drops of food coloring (I did orange) then freeze. Once frozen add the ice cubes to a large bucket of cold water with a couple drops of essential oil (I did orange scent to match the color, CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE ESSENTIAL OIL KIT). This allows them to watch the ice cubes melt into different colors while still playing with the ice cubes and feeling the temperature change. If your babe is anything like Lyric, they will try to shove the ice cubes in their mouth haha! This sensory play includes all five senses!


  • Matching Up Colored Pasta- This costs less then $5! All you need in a box of spaghetti pasta & some food coloring. If you really want to get creative you can add a drop of essential oil to the colored pasta. In celebration of fall being right around the corner I used cinnamon (CLICK HERE YTO PURCHASE ESSENTIAL OIL KIT). I boiled half a box of pasta until it was done, separated pasta into 4 different sections and added the food coloring plus a drop of the cinnamon essential oil. I then added matching colored bowls that we happened to have laying around the house. The goal was for him to match up the specific colored pasta with the matching bowl.

After our color match up, I decided to make some cool pictures with the pasta as I explained to him what each picture was and what it meant. Then, he got to play with it, squish it between his fingers and eat it!

This is where the fun comes in and why I love doing sensory with my babe. They get ALL the learning and sensory play; from seeing the different colors of the pasta (sight), hearing you repeat the colors/ shapes/ pictures (sound), touching the slimy pasta (touch), tasting the creation (taste) and last but not least smelling the fragrance of the essential oil (smell). This project covers all 5 senses all while learning!

  • Frogs in leaves- I went to the Dollar Tree, bought plastic bin with a lid, a bundle of leaves and a pack of rubber frogs. I hid the frogs under the leaves and the goal was for him to move the leaves to find the frogs. He actually found this to be so much fun and once he caught on he started hiding the frogs himself just to find them. This covers 3 senses: Touch, sight and sound.

  • Trucks in rocks- Only do this project if you feel your child is 100% ready to play with small pieces without putting them into his/her mouth (choking hazard) I also went to the Dollar Tree for this project. I bought a clear plastic bin, 2 bags of large rocks, and a couple trucks. I hid the trucks in the rocks and also showed him how the trucks can pile through the rocks. This is a great and cheap project to do with your little. It pin points 3 senses: Touch, sight and sound.

  • Water Table- If you don't already have a water table I highly suggest getting one. This isn't part of my $5 Sensory Play but I just had to add it and shed light to how awesome these are! There is so many cool things you can do with it, plus, if mama needs a break this totally keeps them occupied for awhile. Strip them down into a diaper or undies and let them splash away! We got this one on Amazon for $40 and we love it! We love it mostly because it's STEM designed which helps practice engineering skills, so he can take the hoses apart, reattach and add new things to the pipes. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

  • Letters In Beans- Only do this project if you feel your child is 100% ready to play with small pieces without putting them into his/her mouth. (Choke hazard) I bought a clear plastic bin from the Dollar Tree, a bag of dry beans and some fabric letters. I hid the fabric letters in the beans and the goal was for him to find a letter, and once he did I would repeat the color and letter to him. This is such a great sensory play game to teach colors and the letters of the alphabet while still touching and moving around the beans. If you want to add an extra sense, add a couple drops of essential oil and mix the beans around in it (CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE ESSENTIAL OIL KIT). Then they get to touch the beans and letters (touch), Smell the aroma of the essential oils (smell), Hear you reading the alphabet and colors (sound) and find the letter deep in the beans (sight).

  • Marshmellows And Ducks- Okay, I'm seriously so obsessed with this that I might play this game myself. I bought a plastic bin from the Dollar Tree, A bag of jumbo marshmellows and a pack of rubber ducks. This is suppose to mimic a bubble bath with rubber duckies. You hide the ducks in the marshmellows and they have to find them. At first Lyric didn't realize he could eat the marshmallows, so instead he squished them around in his hands as he picked the ducks out. Then once a little piece touched his lips and went to town! This sensory play includes on ALL senses. Plus, you get to steal some treats for yourself, I'll call that a mom win!

  • Jell-O Bugs- This project was so much fun, plus it includes Jell-O so thats already a win in my book! I bought a pack of creepy crawlers from the Dollar Tree ($1) and a box of green sugar free Jell-O. I chose green to mimic the grass that the bugs live in. The goal was for him to dig through the Jell-O and pick out all the bugs, squish the Jell-O through his fingers and eat all he could to experience a new texture. It covers all five senses as well! From seeing the bugs in the green Jell-O (sight), hearing you repeat the color and the type of bug (sound), touching the bouncy Jell-O (touch), tasting the limey creation (taste) and last but not least smelling the fragrance of the lime (smell).

  • Macaroni Cups: Fill a big plastic bin or you can even use bowl, with a bunch of dry macaroni. Add some plastic handheld measuring cups that they can use as scoops and let them explore the method of scooping, grabbing and feeling. This has 3 of the 5 sensory aspects: sight, touch, sound.

Brittney Deyoung Copyright 2020

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram