10 Seriously Simple Sensory Play Ideas


child with arms in bowl of water beads

Can we all agree on one thing? It’s sodanghot outside. Heat = sweat = sticky = ughhhh. When we are all feeling that “ugh” during these hot months I like to pull out some of my favorite sensory activities for some much needed independent play. I follow a LOT of Instagram accounts that promote sensory play, but honestly, I don’t always feel like putting in a ton of work to make it happen.

I’ve had to adapt my expectations when it comes to sensory play—as in, it wont always be a hit! Don’t let the internet fool you. I’ve also learned that if the activity takes longer to set up than it does to entertain my kiddo—not worth it.

I’ve been at this stay at home mom thing for over a year now, so I like to think I’ve semi-perfected the simplest list of sensory activities.

My secret formula? Low cost, lost prep, & low expectations.

Big mess {maybe}. Big magic {probably}.

Easy Prep Sensory Play Ideas

Bathtub painting

Prep time: about 10 minutes. Grab a muffin tin and add shaving cream, liquid soap, and food coloring. Give each color a good mix. Grab as many paint brushes that are available {or 1 works fine}. Put that kiddo in the shower or tub {without water} and let them go to town. When it’s time to cleanup, simply turn the water on and let them wash all the “paint” away. This usually gives me an extra 5-10 minutes of independent play!muffin tin of colored shaving cream and paintbrush

Playing in the Mud

Prep time: zero or 10 minutes. Easy way? Use this taste-safe mud recipe. I’ve never made it but it seems  pretty straightforward. Easier way? Find some dirt in the yard, give your kid a hose, and let them make a mud puddle. From here let them get their toys dirty and have them wash the toys with a hose after.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Prep time: 10 minutes. My son frequently asks to do this “science experiment”. Take a muffin tin, add some drops of food coloring to each cup, top with baking soda, then pour vinegar on top! This one is actually a fun one to be a part of!child squirts vinegar into muffin tins filled with baking soda

Chalk Paint

Prep time: 5 minutes. Corn starch, water, and food coloring. That’s it. Mix it up in a muffin tin or small bowls and you can paint on the driveway or sidewalks!

Pom Pom Balls in Water

Prep time: 5 minutes. Take a big plastic bin {or something similar}, fill it with water, and dump in as many pom pom balls as you have. I threw in some kitchen tools in there and this ended up being a huge success. Pro tip–throw the balls in a tied up pillowcase when you’re done and stick them in the dryer to reuse another day!child plays with pom pom balls in a plastic container filled with water

Kinetic Sand

Prep time: zero. This one cost a bit, but the HOURS of play we have gotten out of it has paid for itself. We keep ours in a plastic tub with a cover and take it out when we need a fresh distraction. Monster trucks and dinosaurs are my sons preferred toys to use in kinetic sand, but any toys {or kitchen tools} would be entertaining.

Pouring Station

Prep time: 5 minutes. I first tried this activity when we were learning colors at home, and it’s been on repeat ever since. All you need is different size bowls and food coloring. Or ditch the food coloring for the second simplest item on this list!

Puzzle Hunt

Prep time: 10 minutes. I’ve seen this done different ways {foil, tissue paper, wrapping paper, computer paper, etc}. But, the gist of this activity is wrapping each puzzle piece in said paper and letting those tiny hands unwrap them while also putting the puzzle together.

Water Beads

Prep time: overnight. This requires a bit more thought because I like to pour these in water the night before, but honestly this activity gives us DAYS of play. This can be done inside or outside or even in the bathtub!Child scoops up bubble beads from water

Painting With Water

Prep time: zero. A true winner here. Grab different size paint brushes and some water and you have yourself the simplest of all sensory activities.child paints driveway using a roller brush and water

Sensory play can get a bad rap for being overwhelming and time consuming. However, what I’ve found is that a little prep from mom {usually} goes a long way.


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Becca is a small-town {and likely barefoot} Louisiana girl who’s journey to Texas was unexpected to say the least. After getting her Masters in Social Work from LSU, she spent a few years working in mental health before she found her true social work love in hospice care. Not long after getting hitched to the best guy she knows, Becca and her husband welcomed their full of life red headed son {2018} and they now refer to themselves as “the big 3”! Fast forward to early 2021 when Becca was diagnosed with something that changed their lives forever and so, they picked up and headed west. What was supposed to be a short time in Houston for these small-town folks turned into a big city romance, a mortgage, some unexpected friendships, and a few opportunities to grow. Some might say Becca tends to err on the side of sarcasm and stubbornness. But those same people would also say that Becca is brave and compassionate. She’s a straight shooter, a little bit crunchy, and a lover of all things love. When she’s not building forts or playing pretend, you can find Becca roaming the isles at the grocery store, cooking for hours, or snuggled up with a good book. Follow her journey on Instagram at @thisblissfulpursuit.



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