As parents and educators, we all want to give our preschoolers the best possible start in life. And one of the best ways to promote their creativity, fine motor skills, and social interaction is through sensory play activities. The trouble is, finding sensory play activities that don’t break the bank can be a challenge.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of twelve budget-friendly sensory play ideas that are easy to do at home or in the classroom. From DIY edible playdough to a toy car wash station, there’s something for everyone. So, let’s dive in and discover how you can engage your preschooler in fun and educational sensory play!
12 Fun Filled Sensory Play Activities For Preschoolers!
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DIY Edible Playdough
There are so many ingredient options when it comes to edible playdough. It’s also a great way to get your child involved in the creative process and it’s completely safe for them to eat (although not recommended as a meal!). Recipes can be as simple as some flour, salt, sugar, oil, and water, which you can customize with your favorite flavors (think extracts like vanilla, caramel, peppermint, coconut, etc.) and colors.
Not only is it a fun sensory experience, but it also encourages imaginative play and fine motor skills as they shape and mold their creations. So, get ready to mix, knead, and create with your own homemade playdough!
Check out these 10 No Cook Edible Playdough Recipes! And they don’t require cream of tartar!
Rainbow Rice Bin
Another fun and budget-friendly sensory play activity for preschoolers is the rainbow rice bin. This activity is easy to set up and provides hours of entertainment for your little ones. All you need to do is dye some white rice in various colors using Kool Aid and let your child explore and play.
The colors and texture of the rice will stimulate their senses and encourage creativity.
It’s also a great opportunity to practice their fine motor skills as they scoop, pour, and manipulate the rice.
Ice Cube Painting
Ice cube painting is a fun and engaging sensory activity for preschoolers that promotes creativity, hand-eye coordination, and sensory exploration.
To set it up, fill an ice cube tray with water, then add a few drops of food coloring to each cube.
Once frozen, place a sheet of paper on a flat surface and encourage your preschoolers to use the colorful ice cubes as paintbrushes.
You can also try some small popsicle molds like these, in case your child does not enjoy holding on to the cold ice cubes.
They can experiment with different colors, mix them together, and make patterns on the paper. This activity is perfect for hot summer days and is sure to keep your little ones entertained and engaged for hours!
Edible Finger Paint
If your preschooler loves to paint with their fingers, you can take the sensory experience to a whole new level by trying edible finger paint. This activity is perfect for little ones who love to get messy and explore with their senses. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce them to different colors and textures while also satisfying their curiosity about taste.
There are many ways to make edible finger paint! The simplest way is to use some plain or vanilla yogurt with food coloring.
Alternatively, you can use cornstarch, water, and food coloring or kool-aid mix. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water and stir until there are no lumps. Then, add half a cup of boiling water and stir until the mixture thickens.
Once the mixture has cooled down, you can add food coloring/kool-aid to create different colors.
Now, let your preschooler dip their fingers in the paint and explore the colors and textures. They can paint on paper or even on a plate for a more sensory experience. And the best part? If they accidentally ingest some of the paint, it’s completely safe to eat.
Mess Free Sensory Bags
Mess free sensory bags are a great way to engage your preschooler’s senses in a contained and mess-free way.
All you need are resealable plastic bags, hair gel, and small toys or items such as buttons, beads, or pom-poms. Simply fill the bag with hair gel and add the small items before sealing it shut.
Your child can then squish and explore the texture and contents of the bag without any cleanup necessary. You can also add some food coloring to the gel and squish it around before adding the small items.
After your preschooler has had their fill of the sensory bags, you can move on to another fun and affordable sensory activity.
Try creating a sensory bin with beans and scoops, where your child can scoop and pour beans while exploring different textures and sounds.,
Sensory Bin with Beans and Scoops
Creating a bean and scoop bin is so easy! Simply fill a large plastic bin with dried beans or rice and provide your child with scoops, spoons, and cups to play with. You can also add small toys or figurines to the bin for added fun.
This activity provides an opportunity for your child to explore different textures and sounds while developing their fine motor skills.
Setting up a disco bath is extremely simple. All you need is some glow sticks like these! Turn off the lights for a fun and exciting atmosphere.
Let your child splash and play in the disco bath and encourage them to explore the different colors.
If you really want to step up the bath time fun, why not try a glow bath – the water actually glows!
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After the excitement of the Disco Bath, it’s time to move on to a more focused and tactile activity with the Texture Collage.
This activity is not only budget-friendly but also great for enhancing fine motor skills and encouraging creativity.
All you need is some paper, glue, and a variety of materials such as yarn, tissue paper, fabric, buttons and feathers for your child to get creative with.
Watch as they explore different textures and create their own unique masterpiece.
Ready for another sensory experience? Sensory bottles are a fun and captivating activity that will keep your child entertained for hours.
All you need is a clear plastic bottle (an old water bottle or something like this) water, food coloring and various small objects such as beads, sequins, and glitter. You will also need some glue (crazy glue or hot glue gun) to make sure the lid does not come off of the bottle.
Allow your child to select their favorite items to add into the bottle, and then fill it up with water and a few drops of food color.
As they shake and spin the bottle, they’ll love watching the glitter and beads float and swirl around.
Sensory bottles are not only a great tool for sensory exploration but also provide a calming effect, making them a helpful tool for children who may need to calm down or focus.
Toy Car Wash Station
If your child loves playing with toy cars, then they’ll love the toy car wash station sensory play activity.
Set up a small table or tray with a shallow bin or bucket filled with soapy water and a stack of clean cloths. Your child can dip their cars into the soapy water, scrub them clean with the cloths, and then park them in a designated parking area to dry off.
This activity not only engages children in imaginative play but also helps improve their fine motor skills.
To add a language component to this activity talk about why cars need to be washed, how did they get dirty? Label the parts of the cars too!
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If your child loves getting messy, then they’ll love the Jello Dig sensory play activity.
Mix up a batch of Jello and let it set in a shallow bin. Before the Jello has set, hide small toys like plastic animals or cars in the Jello and let your child dig them out with their hands or tools like spoons or popsicle sticks.
This activity engages children in sensory play and helps improve their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Plus, the bright colors and sweet scent of Jello make it a fun and stimulating experience for preschoolers.
After your child has uncovered all the hidden treasures in the Jello, they may still be hungry for more sensory play. Why not try the Edible Dirt activity next?
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For a unique twist on sensory play, try the Edible Dirt activity with your preschoolers. This activity involves using ingredients such as crushed cheerios or a combination of crushed cookies and chocolate pudding to make a dirt-like mixture. Dump the “dirt” into a shallow bin and throw in some spoons, cups, toy trucks, etc. and create a dig site.
Children can play with the dirt, exploring its texture and consistency, and even use it to create their own imaginative scenes.
Edible Dirt is not only fun, but also provides a great opportunity to engage children in conversations about nature and the earth. You can discuss how dirt and soil help plants grow or how dirt is used for building. This activity gives children a chance to learn through sensory exploration, making it a valuable addition to any preschool curriculum.
In addition to its educational benefits, Edible Dirt is also a tasty treat! Children can enjoy eating the dirt mixture as they play, satisfying their sweet tooth and engaging their sense of taste.
Overall, the Edible Dirt activity is a budget-friendly and engaging way to provide preschoolers with a unique sensory play experience that can also contribute to their learning and development. Give it a try and see how much fun your little ones can have with this creative activity!
Sensory Play Activities for Preschoolers – Explore, Learn, and Create
Sensory play is a crucial component of early childhood development. It can promote creativity, fine motor skills, and social interaction, but it doesn’t have to be pricey.
The twelve budget-friendly sensory play activities discussed are perfect for parents and educators looking to engage preschoolers in sensory play while promoting speech and language skills, fine motor skills and more.
So give them a shot and watch your child’s skills flourish! Let’s give our little ones the chance to really learn through play!