african american kid playing with didactic material near children and teacher in montessori school

The Best Sensory Play-Based Activities for Your Child

child girl playing with pink tower, developing sensory activities in montessori and earlier child development, kids independence
child girl playing with pink tower, developing sensory activities in montessori and earlier child development, kids independence

Children grow in amazing ways. Aside from their physical transformation, their cognitive and sensory development unfolds in remarkable changes, too. Research shows that 80% of a child’s brain is formed by the age of three. This early phase shapes how they learn, interact with their surroundings, and regulate their emotions. And what fuels this incredible development more than play? (1)

Play isn’t just fun and games for your child; it’s their great way of learning new things. Aside from innovative technologies, they can explore specific activities to sharpen their senses and life skills. Parents like you can be their ultimate playmates and facilitators, turning everyday moments into exciting experiences. 

In this article, we’re about to provide a treasure trove of play-based learning activities designed to stimulate all five senses.

Understanding every child’s sensory experiences 

It’s natural for a kid or toddler to constantly be on the move and hungry for new experiences. Their five senses are all fired up, soaking in the world around them in a vibrant, unfiltered way. Here’s a peek into their sensory world: 


Their vision is almost fully developed, but their depth perception might still be a work in progress. They love pointing at things and asking, “What’s that?”—a sign they’re actively learning about their environment. 


Little one’s ears are fine-tuned to pick up all sorts of sounds. They’re learning to distinguish familiar voices and might be easily startled by loud noises. They love to sing along (even if it’s mostly gibberish!) and dance to the rhythm. 


This is probably their most used sense. They’re persistently reaching out to touch objects. For them, everything is an invitation to feel and discover. They might also be very sensitive to touch, disliking itchy clothes or messy textures. 


At an early age, kid’s taste buds are fully formed, and they’re adventurous eaters (at least for a while!). They’re curious to try new flavors but can also be picky at times. Sweetness reigns supreme at this age, but they’re slowly developing a preference for more complex tastes. 


Children’s little noses are sniffing out new smells. Freshly baked cookies, blooming flowers, even the not-so-pleasant smells—they’re all part of their sensory experience. Certain fragrances might be comforting, like the familiar scent of their parents. (2)

There are centers like Little Scribblers Ashfield that embody a similar commitment to nurturing and flourishing a child’s potential with care. In this kind of learning environment, toddlers and young children can enhance their critical thinking skills and more.

Now that we’re done understanding children’s five senses, let’s venture into the core of this guide. 

Best educational play to stimulate a child’s senses 

african american kid playing with didactic material near children and teacher in montessori school

Medical practitioners recognize play-based activities as a key aspect of cognitive, emotional, and language development. That’s why selected toys and games are highly valued in both clinical and school settings. In fact, market research analysts anticipate the global industry to reach USD$ 45.63 billion by 2031. That’s an impressive figure, isn’t it? (3)

Check out these playful learning ideas: 

1. Color scavenger hunt 

Take your little one on a color hunt around the house or park. Challenge them to find objects of specific colors, like a red car or a green leaf. This activity strengthens their color recognition and observation skills while turning their surroundings into a colorful treasure trove. 

2. Sensory bottles 

Craft captivating sensory bottles for visual exploration. Fill a clear container with water, glitter, colorful beads, or small toys. Experiment with different shades and textures to create mesmerizing kaleidoscopes. As your child shakes and tilts the bottle, they’ll be captivated by the swirling movement and colors. 

3. Playdough masterpieces 

Unleash your child’s inner artist with homemade playdough. This stuff is like a blank canvas for their creative mind to shape, mold, and sculpt whatever their imagination conjures up. You can sneak in a little learning, too, by challenging them to create specific shapes or letters with the dough. It’ll be like a game of sculpting show-and-tell. 

4. Sensory bin extravaganza 

Create a tactile wonderland with a sensory bin. Fill a large container with dry ingredients like rice, beans, or pasta. Add scoops, cups, spoons, and small toys for digging, pouring, and hiding treasures. Introduce different textures with pom-poms, buttons, or feathers.

This open-ended activity stimulates your child’s sense of touch while encouraging fine motor skills development and imaginative play. 

5. Blind taste test 

It’s one of the most fun activities where snack time becomes an adventure! Blindfold your child and offer them different fruits or vegetables. Guide them to identify the mystery food by taste and texture. This activity is a fun way to encourage them to explore new flavors and textures while strengthening their sense of taste and smell. 

6. Homemade instruments  

You know what would be a blast? Putting on your own little concert! Grab some empty containers, cardboard boxes, and dried beans, and turn them into maracas, shakers, and drums. Your little rock star can bang, shake, and rattle to their heart’s content, creating all kinds of melodies and rhythms. It’s not just crazy fun, but they’ll be learning about cause and effect as they make different sounds. Who knows? We might just discover the next musical prodigy right in your living room! 

7. Scented play dough 

Enhance your play dough recipe with fragrant essential oils (opt for gentle scents like lavender or vanilla). As your child molds and shapes their play dough, they’ll be enveloped in a pleasant aroma, adding another dimension to their sense of smell and learning process.

Final thoughts 

Engaging your child’s senses through educational play is one of the most delightful and rewarding experiences you can share. When you witness the sparkling wonder in your little one’s eyes as they discover something new, you’ll realize that these simple moments are pure magic. And isn’t that what parenting is all about? Cherishing the laughter, the curiosity, and the genuine joy that comes from seeing the world through their faces. 


1. “Early childhood development (ECD)”, Source: 

2. “A Complete Guide To Your Baby’s Five Senses”, Source: 

3. “Global Educational Toys Market Size is Estimated to Reach USD 45.63 Billion by 2031, Growing at a CAGR of 7.91%: Straits Research”, Source: 

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