Simply stated, sensory play is a fun activity that engages one or more of the five senses—touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. Sensory activities benefit all children in various areas of development – coordination, concentration, and cognition among them—but are especially beneficial to children on the autism spectrum.

Sensory play helps by strengthening neural connections. Emotional, physical, and linguistic growth can progress further as a result.

Play is one of the easiest ways for a child to learn about their surroundings and develop fundamental life skills. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child’s senses such as touch, sound, taste, sight, and smell. Allowing your child the opportunity to freely explore with sensory activities helps to facilitate understanding and creativity.

  • Shaving Cream & Paint
  • Seuss’s Oobleck One of the simplest and most addicting sensory items you can make is Dr. Seuss’s Oobleck (name based from the character in his book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck). All you need is equal parts cornstarch and water and then food coloring of your choice! We recommend keeping this in a Tupperware container, as the texture of the oobleck changes from solid to liquid quickly. Throw some toys in there too and kids can see how they interact in the slime.
  • Shredded Paper Bins
  • Fabric Scraps Board
  • Sand Paper & Crayons
  • Nuts and Bolts Sensory Board
  • Nuts and Bolts Sensory Board
  • Salt dough is a non-toxic and technically edible dough that can be used just like Play-Doh, although it may not be a tasty (or healthy) treat, given its salt content. It is made from just three ingredients available in virtually every household; this project is easy for any rainy day or a scheduled activity.
  • Pudding Painting
  • Cotton Round Splatter Painting
  • Empathy Bracelets although this activity calls for a specific book to teach empathy, parents could read any book about feelings to their child or could just talk about feelings. The concept allows the child to assign each emotion a bead color. Then the child creates a bracelet to put them all together.
  • Sensory Discovery Bottles Hugely popular in the sensory play world, sensory discovery bottles are easy to make. There are true discovery bottles where a multitude of items are included in the mix of tumbling shiny objects, and there are slow falling bottles where beads seem nearly suspended in time as they fall in slow motion.
  • Water Beads these floral design tools feel like soft and squishy marbles. They are useful for an assortment of applications, from simple play to sensory bins, or you can freeze them for an entirely different texture.
  • Fidget Bracelet Children who experience the need to move, whether from OCD, ADD, autism, anxiety, or something else, can benefit from the calming influence of something to use to channel that excess energy. Meanwhile, they do not disturb those near them with noises or an excess of motion.
  • Bead Box This homemade version of a bead box is a therapy tool for autistic children, but it is a tool your child can participate in creating.
  • Slime Recipes
  • Taste-Safe Sensory Rainbow while shaving cream is used in many sensory play projects, this finger painting features whipped cream. So, if your child has a propensity to taste his or her work, this one is completely safe, albeit sticky.
  • Sand and Water Ocean Sensory Bin
  • Graffiti Art for Kids For children who might not like to get their hands full of paint or who might be frustrated by the lack of fine motor skills required to paint, this graffiti art project is perfect—and it’s just plain fun.


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