a toddler feeling flower on a rug

Best Sensory Activities for Toddlers

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One-year-olds are explorers of the world. They want to know everything they can about their surroundings and how things work. This is the perfect time to plan sensory activities for toddlers when running a home daycare.

best sensory activities for toddlers

Sensory activities allow kids to explore different textures, sounds, smells, and tastes. Good sensory activities provide plenty of exploration opportunities while helping your child develop important skills. If you want to make your little one’s life more energetic and inquisitive, stick around a little longer while we share a list of the best sensory activities for toddlers!

Sensory calming activities

There’s something magical about exploring the world with your hands and feet. As we touch different textures, we understand more about the world around us. For toddlers, this sensory exploration is essential for their development.

By touching different textures, they learn to discriminate between different sensations and develop a sense of tactile discrimination. This sense is vital for tasks like picking up small objects or buttoning a shirt. As they explore the world with their hands and feet, they are also developing their fine motor skills.

diy green tea playdough on a mat

Sensory playdough

Squishing play-dough or modeling clay between their fingers is a smart sensory activity for toddlers. This is because it helps them to develop their fine motor skills.

For example, they can learn how to control the amount of pressure they apply and how to move their fingers in a precise way. This activity also lets toddlers express their creative side, as they can make all sorts of shapes and figures with dough or clay.

As they squeeze and manipulate the dough, toddlers are strengthening the muscles in their hands and fingers, which will come in handy later as they learn to write and draw. Squishing dough or clay can be even more sensory if they can explore the textures and smells of the materials like this Sensory playdough. Check out this awesome idea for making your own.

You can encourage a toddler’s sensory exploration by providing them with plenty of opportunities to touch different textures. Offer them a variety of materials to touch, such as sandpaper, velvet, fur, and corduroy. You can also create texture boards with different materials glued onto cardboard and encourage your child to feel the different textures.

a toddler stretching fuzzy bands onto pegs

Sensory sand

Sensory sand or kinetic sand is another great material for kids to manipulate with their hands. You can even make your own homemade kinetic sand simply and easily.

Playing With Water

Water is a magical substance for toddlers. It’s soothing and stimulating, providing endless opportunities for exploration. When babies splash in the bath or paddle in a pool, they develop fine motor skills as they learn to control their movements. They also explore cause and effect by discovering that they can create waves and ripples simply by moving their arms and legs.

As your little one plays with toys in water, it helps hone their problem-solving skills as they figure out how to make the toys float and sink. And water presents so many wonderful sensory activities for toddlers that can stimulate learning.

Music and movement

Music has a way of reaching into the soul and stirring up emotions. It can be a powerful tool for self-expression and can provide a sense of joy and comfort. For toddlers, listening to music and moving their bodies to the beat is a rewarding sensory activity.

The rhythmic sounds and lively melodies help to stimulate their senses, and the physical movement helps to develop their gross motor skills. As they clap their hands, tap their feet, and sway their hips, toddlers experiment with different ways of moving their bodies.

Music and movement is an integral part of learning about spatial awareness and body control. In addition, the social interaction involved in dancing together is beneficial for developing communication skills.

One of the smartest ways to engage a toddler’s senses is to play with soft toys and stuffed animals. The feel of the fabrics, the different textures, and the gentle movements all help to stimulate the senses and encourage exploration.

For example, a simple peek-a-boo game with a stuffed animal can help develop communication and social skills. And as they cuddle and play with their beloved stuffed toys, they develop a sense of comfort and security.

Books With Bright Colors And Interesting Pictures

The colors and pictures in books can stimulate toddlers’ brains and improve their visual skills. As they flip through the pages, they also strengthen their hand-eye coordination. And when they reach out to touch the pictures, they explore different textures and learn about cause and effect.

Each time they engage with a book, they build new neural pathways in their brain and lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning. So not only is looking at books a fun way to pass the time, but it also boosts your child’s development.

a child playing in the sand

Crawling and climbing

Crawling through pillows and climbing on soft mats enhances toddlers’ gross motor skills and provides them with a safe sensory experience. When they crawl through the pillows, they can feel the different textures against their skin and smell the scents of the pillow stuffing.

And when they climb on the soft mats, they can feel the give of the material beneath their feet. This sensory activity is an excellent way for toddlers to learn about new sensations and associate them with different objects.

Tasting sweet or sour

When exploring the world, little ones use all their senses. And what better way to start than with taste? Sweet and sour, smooth and textured, crunchy and velvety–a whole world of flavor awaits! This is more than just a fun game–it’s a learning opportunity.

Through trial and error, kiddos learn what they like (and don’t like!). They also develop their sense of smell and touch as they touch different foods. And all that licking? It helps them learn about cause and effect (“If I do this, then this happens”). So go ahead and whip up a batch of muddy mud puddles or slimy spaghetti–your little one will thank you for it.

Sensory garden

Planting a sensory garden for your toddlers to explore is a great way to immerse them in sensory experiences. The garden has immeasurable benefits for kids. There are so many lessons to be learned and stimulation there.

It’s easy to find ways to stimulate kids’ brains with sensory activities for toddlers! Just look around and think about it and you’ll have it figured out in no time.

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