Five Cheap and Easy Sensory Activities for Young Kids

An important part of a child’s development is exploring different textures and surfaces with their hands. Many classes that give children this opportunity can be expensive though. Furthermore, if you are not a particularly crafty parent, the idea of putting together a hands-on activity can be overwhelming. Check out these five easy sensory activities using common household items.

Cornmeal Sand

If you have some cornmeal and oil on hand, you can make cornmeal sand. Take 2 cups of cornmeal and add 3/4 cup of oil. You can add a little flour or use less oil to make it dryer. Give it to your children in a large bin so they can make sand castles or towers. You can also give them rocks and seashells to place in the sand, or toy cars to drive through it.

If you make a lot of sand, you can hide objects in it for your child to find. You can bury toy dinosaurs and have your child dig for “fossils.” You can also hide small coins and have your child go on a treasure hunt.

Shaving Cream Painting

Got a can of shaving cream? That’s all you need! Spray the shaving cream on a large surface like a clean table or bathtub. Then, simply allow your child to finger paint with it and smear it everywhere. For added fun, you can use food dye to create different colors.

If your child is small and puts everything in his or her mouth, you can use whipped cream or yogurt instead. Young children can sit in a high chair and play with it on their food tray.

Soap Bubble Bottles

This activity is perfect for babies and young toddlers. Fill an empty bottle or jar halfway with water. Then add as much food coloring as you’d like, depending on how dark you want the color. Then, add a little dish soap and glitter. Seal the bottle and give it to your child. Children love to shake the bottles and watch the glitter swirl around.

You can also roll the bottle back and forth with your little one. This will help them work on their motor skills and may be more entertaining than rolling a plain ball.

Or if your child is old enough, he/she can blow bubbles!

Beans and Seeds

If you have multiple children playing together, this activity will keep them busy. Fill a large tub, bin, or pan with dry beans or popcorn seeds. Then, give the children a few scoops or measuring cups. They can scoop the beans or seeds up and pour them out. For added fun, you can give them toy cars and trucks. They can drive the cars around or bulldoze and dump the beans or seeds.

You will likely have beans and seeds all over the place after the children finish this activity. You can make cleaning up easier by placing your bin over a large sheet or towel that can be folded up and shaken out.

Fun with Paper or Ribbon

One of the easiest sensory activities to put together is giving your child different kinds of paper to tear and throw around. You can give your child a full roll of toilet paper, a box of tissues, or a bag of tissue paper. They will have hours of fun pulling out the pieces of paper or tissue, crumpling them, and tearing them apart.

If you don’t want to waste paper products or if you’d prefer to add more color, use ribbon instead. Cut several pieces of colored ribbon into foot long pieces. Then, place them in an empty tissue box. Your child will have fun pulling the “rainbow” out of the box.


Sensory activities do not have to be expensive or complex. The most important part of any activity is interacting with your child and making fun memories. Enjoy!

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