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7 Sensory Play Activities to Stimulate Young Minds and Senses

June 21, 2024

June 21, 2024

Sensory play is an activity that involves engaging one or more of the five senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. It is an important part of child development as it helps stimulate young minds and senses while promoting learning and discovery.

So, let’s discuss seven sensory play activities that parents and caregivers can do with young children to help them explore their world and enhance their cognitive development.

A young boy smiling and sitting in a sandbox filled with colorful balls, in a sunny outdoor setting. The image captures the essence to stimulate young minds through sensory play activities, highlighting the importance of engaging children in hands-on, exploratory play to enhance their cognitive development and senses.
Source: DepositPhotos.com

    Creating a sensory bin is one of the simplest and most popular sensory play activities. This involves filling a container with various materials that have different textures, such as rice, beans, sand, Lego toys, or water beads. Children can then use their hands to explore and play with the materials, stimulating their sense of touch.

    To make it more engaging, you can add tools like spoons or scoops for them to scoop and pour the materials into different containers. You can also hide small toys or objects within the sensory bin for children to discover while they play.

      Playdough is a classic sensory play activity that never gets old. Making it at home is cost-effective and allows you to customize the texture and color according to your child’s preferences.

      Various recipes are available online, but the basic ingredients include flour, salt, cream of tartar, oil, and food coloring. Children can help mix and knead the dough, stimulating their sense of touch and sight as they watch the colors blend.

      You can also add scents like vanilla or essential oils for an extra sensory experience. And don’t forget to provide tools like cookie cutters or plastic knives for children to mold and shape the playdough into different forms.

        Going on a nature scavenger hunt is an engaging sensory activity and a great way to connect with the natural world. Create a list of items for children to find in their surroundings, such as different types of leaves, rocks, or flowers.

        As they collect each item, encourage them to touch and smell it, stimulating their sense of touch and smell. You can also provide a magnifying glass for them to observe the objects in more detail. This activity engages their senses but also instills curiosity and appreciation for the natural world, making it a rewarding and educational adventure for young minds.

        Additionally, you can incorporate learning opportunities by discussing the different plants and animals they encounter, fostering a love for nature and environmental awareness from an early age.

          Sensory play doesn’t have to be limited to the sense of touch. You can also incorporate sound into sensory play activities through various methods. One simple activity is creating a sound box or basket filled with different items that make unique sounds, such as bells, shakers, or wrinkled paper. Children can shake and explore these objects while listening to the sounds they produce.

          Another idea is to create a “sound walk” where children close their eyes and listen carefully for different sounds in their environment, such as birds chirping or cars passing by.

            Our sense of taste is often overlooked in sensory play, but it can be a fun and educational experience for children. You can set up a taste exploration station with various foods that have different tastes, such as sweet, sour, salty, or bitter. Children can use their tongues to explore each flavor and describe how it makes them feel.

            For added learning, you can incorporate other senses into this activity by having children touch and smell the food before tasting it.

              Sensory storytime engages multiple senses, making the reading experience more interactive and enjoyable for children. In addition, reading to children is an essential part of early childhood development, but you can make it a more sensory experience by incorporating props or actions into the story.

              For example, if you are reading a book about animals, you can provide stuffed animals for children to touch and hold. Or, if you are reading a book about going to the beach, you can have children feel buckets of sand or shells while listening to the story.

                Sensory play doesn’t always have to be confined to a specific activity. You can incorporate sensory elements into movement games, such as Simon Says with different movements like jumping or spinning or playing “freeze dance” with different types of music.

                These activities help stimulate children’s sense of balance and coordination while also engaging their other senses through movement and sound.


                Children learn best through hands-on experiences, which is why sensory play benefits their development. It allows them to use all of their senses to make connections and understand concepts more meaningfully. Incorporating these sensory play activities into your child’s routine can help them explore and engage with the world around them while promoting cognitive growth and learning. So, get creative and have fun with these sensory play ideas! 


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