Sunday, 5 May 2013

Easy (and fun!) Sensory Play Ideas

Sensory play is such an important part of my Preppies' week.  It's a time for them to explore, investigate and be creative - all the while having a blast with their friends!  I'd love to have a heap of unstructured time each day for them to get their hands messy playing with different materials, but unfortunately the demands of the curriculum require us to hit the books and do some more formal activities than I would like for my little ones.  It is so important to provide young children with a variety of sensory activities - instead of doing a terrible job of explaining why in my own words, I'll let you read this article that lays out the reasons much better than I could! :)

I plan sensory play into group rotations that in my timetable are called 'Handwriting/Fine Motor'.  Each week one of these rotations is a sensory play opportunity for the kidlets.  We also include sensory play activities in craft time, science, maths and literacy groups and outside play.  Here's a few super simple ideas that I have used this year - so easy that you could do them tomorrow!

An oldie but a goodie - Playdough!  We use it to practise letters and sight words, and with number mats in maths.  It's the most fun when the kids can just be creative building, squishing, cutting and rolling it using a variety of tools.  Add sand, glitter, essential oils etc. to make it more interesting and stimulating for their senses.  No-cook Playdough is so easy and cheap to make, we stir up at least 2 batches a week and it really only takes a few minutes - find a recipe here.

Possibly the easiest material to use for sensory play is shaving cream!  We put a plastic table outside and just squirt it straight onto the top (we just hose it off when we're done).  Make sure your kidlets wear art aprons, and keep an eye on anyone who may have sensitive skin or noses.  Some shaving cream really does smell quite strong.  I use no-name brand and it's fine, but I'm lucky this year and don't have any kids with allergies in my classroom.  In these photos we were smoothing out the shaving cream and writing our letters.  You can also use paintbrushes or other tools for drawing, but it's the most fun when you can feel it squishing through your fingers!

Cloud Dough is awesome!  It feels like flour when it runs through your fingers, but is mouldable when pressed together.  Make it by stirring together 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil.  It has a lovely scent and feels really silky.  We added dinosaurs to ours (just for fun) and I plan to use it again this week to hide letters and sight words in.  For everyone to have their own Cloud Dough to play with, we just tipped it onto plastic trays and put them on a table outside.  You could play with it inside too because it's not too messy, but I'd probably avoid having it near carpet. :)

Paint + sand = finger painting with a bit of attitude!  Sandy paint has a lovely, gritty texture that my kidlets love.  We had fun with free painting, but to use it in a more formal way you could ask them to paint numbers, letters or words.

Hopefully you are now inspired to add a bit of sensory play to your plans for this week - I'd love to hear if any of my ideas were useful!  Please let me know what you use for sensory play in your classroom and how you organise it - I'm always on the lookout for more great ideas.

Have fun playing!



  1. Hi Lauren, I love your sensory ideas. I use play dough and sometimes shaving cream for my 1/2's to use during word work to write their spelling words. I have taught Prep for the last three years, your blog is making me miss teaching that age group.

    Cheers Claire

    1. Hi Claire.
      Thanks for stopping by. Prep is a lovely age to teach, but I'm sure with your 1/2's you are able to use lots of the same creative, messy ideas... just with a little trickier content. :)


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