By: Madiha Malik

Looking for ways to get your little ones busy so you can enjoy that hot cup of tea? Then sensory play is your solution. 

What is Sensory Play?

The early years of a child’s life are when major growth leaps occur. As parents and educators, we always strive to provide an enriching environment that stimulates children’s learning. Sensory play is one of the great ways to foster learning. It includes any activity that allows children to use their senses of touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste. We may have seen children getting excited when an adult brings out playdough or when they see a sandpit at the park. During a child’s early years, senses play a huge role in getting them familiar with their environment. They develop trust and a sense of safety through touching and feeling objects. Senses are the main tool that enhances their understanding of the world around them.

How Does it Foster the Growth and Development of Young Children?

Playing materials and activities that involve free manipulation helps to build new nerve connections in the developing brain, which means they learn to trust that those objects and others that feel the same way are safe. The more they manipulate materials that have different textures, sounds, tastes, and appearance, the more comfortable they become handling them. For example, children who do not like the texture of certain foods can be allowed to touch and feel that food for their brain to get a positive message that it is safe to eat. We normally associate eating issues with behaviour, but it has more to do with how their brain processes that food. Moreover, sensory play is very calming. Looking at lava lamps or sensory bottles, playing with water, listening to soft music or playing instruments brings composure and calmness to children’s minds. A child who is overwhelmed by his environment can be encouraged to participate in a sensory activity and slowly, you will notice them relax and regulate their emotions. Sensory play also sparks curiosity in children. It encourages them to practice and builds on scientific thinking such as observation, prediction, and problem-solving.

What does sensory play look like for pre-school children?

Water and play objects Baking soda and some hair conditioner

Shaving cream with toys Bird Seed with added toys

More Ideas: (Sensory activities do require supervision)

*Kinetic sand


*Lava water bottles

*Snow collected in a bin

*Different textures in a bin (cotton balls, rocks, squishy balls, sequined cloth etc)


*cornstarch and water


About the Author:

My Name is Madiha. I am a kindergarten educator (RECE) and mama of a two-year-old. I am passionate about teaching young children and supporting families. My website is a small effort to break the big silence on postpartum depression and anxiety, in particular, amongst the south Asian community.