The links provided in this article are affiliate links. Creative Seeds earns a small commission that supports our programs when you use them! Using our affiliate links is a great way to support outdoor play at no extra cost to you.
Sensory play is a type of play that stimulates the senses and allows children to explore and discover their environment. This type of play engages the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing, and often involves activities such as playing with sand, water, or mud, exploring different textures and materials, and experimenting with different scents and sounds. Sensory play is not only fun and enjoyable for children, but it also promotes cognitive, social, and emotional development by encouraging curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving skills. You can learn more about why you should try taking sensory play outside in our post about tips for taking sensory play outside.
Here we are going to explore ideas for embracing sensory play outdoors and what activities you and your child can do to provide sensory play opportunities for your child outside. These activities are great for kids of all ages. From toddlers to kids in elementary school.
Create a mud kitchen with pots, pans, and utensils
Fill a small pool with water, bubbles, and rubber animals
Climb a tree
Build a sandcastle in a sandbox
Play with water beads in a sensory bin
Set up a sensory garden with different textures and smells
Set up a loose parts obstacle course
Use sidewalk chalk to draw and write on the pavement
Create a sensory obstacle course with different challenges
Play with ice cubes and explore temperature changes
Make chalk paint by grating, smashing, and crushing chalk then mixing it with a bit of water.
Set up a water table with different objects to float and sink
Have a bubble-blowing competition
Paint your favourite plastic toys. Bonus point for soapy water playtime to wash them after.
Roll down a grassy hill
Paint some snow!
Try adding a slack-line or ninja course to your backyard
Use clear contact paper to make a nature sun catcher
Use a magnifying glass to examine rocks, leaves, and bugs
Create a sensory mural with paint and different materials
Play with shaving cream and explore its texture
Balance across a fallen log
Mix soap and a small amount of water in a blender to make soap foam to take outside to play.
Play with ice. Mix herbs, flowers, or colours into the ice to add interest
Make flower soup using cut flowers, scoops, bowls and more!
Set up a mini beach with seashells and a small pool of water
Make a bird feeder and observe different bird species
Set up a sensory bin with kinetic sand
Try your hand at Loose Parts Building
Play with play dough and add natural materials such as leaves and sticks
Create a DIY balance beam with different textures to step on
Play with water balloons and explore different ways to pop them
Set up a sprinkler and play with different water patterns
Go on a listening walk
Build a fort ( lifting heavy sticks and stumps is a great sensory experience)
Create a sensory bin with dried beans and various scoops and containers
Make a car wash for your favourite toy cars. Include mud to make them dirty and soapy water to wash them up!
Play with homemade slime and add natural materials
Try a colour scavenger hunt in your neighbourhood
Set up a nature art station with materials found outside
Create a sensory bin with dirt and small plastic animals to dig and explore.
Hang a sheet on your fence or between two trees and splatter paint
Make a rice bin and add scoops, bowls and other toys
Build and enjoy a tire swing
Build a snowman
Fill a bin with leaves and add scissors/ punches to cut the leaves
Plant a tree
Hang out in a hammock
Now you have over 50 ideas for sensory play throughout the year. Get outside, and get messy, get playing!