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50 New Ways to Explore Sensory Play!

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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.

  1. Create a mud kitchen with pots, pans, and utensils

  2. Fill a small pool with water, bubbles, and rubber animals

  3. Climb a tree

  4. Build a sandcastle in a sandbox

  5. Play with water beads in a sensory bin

  6. Set up a sensory garden with different textures and smells

  7. Set up a loose parts obstacle course

  8. Use sidewalk chalk to draw and write on the pavement

  9. Create a sensory obstacle course with different challenges

  10. Play with ice cubes and explore temperature changes

  11. Make chalk paint by grating, smashing, and crushing chalk then mixing it with a bit of water.

  12. Set up a water table with different objects to float and sink

  13. Have a bubble-blowing competition

  14. Paint your favourite plastic toys. Bonus point for soapy water playtime to wash them after.

  15. Roll down a grassy hill

  16. Paint some snow!

  17. Try adding a slack-line or ninja course to your backyard

  18. Use clear contact paper to make a nature sun catcher

  19. Use a magnifying glass to examine rocks, leaves, and bugs

  20. Create a sensory mural with paint and different materials

  21. Play with shaving cream and explore its texture

  22. Balance across a fallen log

  23. Mix soap and a small amount of water in a blender to make soap foam to take outside to play.

  24. Play with ice. Mix herbs, flowers, or colours into the ice to add interest

  25. Make flower soup using cut flowers, scoops, bowls and more!

  26. Set up a mini beach with seashells and a small pool of water

  27. Make a bird feeder and observe different bird species

  28. Set up a sensory bin with kinetic sand

  29. Try your hand at Loose Parts Building

  30. Play with play dough and add natural materials such as leaves and sticks

  31. Create a DIY balance beam with different textures to step on

  32. Play with water balloons and explore different ways to pop them

  33. Set up a sprinkler and play with different water patterns

  34. Go on a listening walk

  35. Build a fort ( lifting heavy sticks and stumps is a great sensory experience)

  36. Create a sensory bin with dried beans and various scoops and containers

  37. Make a car wash for your favourite toy cars. Include mud to make them dirty and soapy water to wash them up!

  38. Play with homemade slime and add natural materials

  39. Try a colour scavenger hunt in your neighbourhood

  40. Paint leaves

  41. Set up a nature art station with materials found outside

  42. Go sledding

  43. Create a sensory bin with dirt and small plastic animals to dig and explore.

  44. Hang a sheet on your fence or between two trees and splatter paint

  45. Make a rice bin and add scoops, bowls and other toys

  46. Build and enjoy a tire swing

  47. Build a snowman

  48. Fill a bin with leaves and add scissors/ punches to cut the leaves

  49. Plant a tree

  50. Hang out in a hammock

Now you have over 50 ideas for sensory play throughout the year. Get outside, and get messy, get playing!

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