Promoting Brain Development with Fun, At-Home Sensory Play Activities

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Most parents have heard the term “Sensory Play.” But what does it really mean, and how does it relate to your child’s development?

Sensory play means your child’s senses are constantly engaged during an activity. 

Sensory play is critical because of its role in brain development. Engaging as many of the five senses as possible literally helps the brain develop. 

By the age of five, 95% of a child’s brain will be developed. Therefore, we have a tremendous opportunity to impact children for a lifetime by simply engaging in sensory activities!

When creativity is limited, a child’s learning is limited. So what can you do at home to help engage your child’s senses and promote sensory learning? It’s easier than you may think!

Here are 6 amazingly easy (and effective) activities to try at home to engage your child’s senses—and help develop their brains!

Sensory Play Activities to Try at Home

Ice Cube Activity

Allow your child to play with ice cubes! Ice cubes made with food coloring make for an awesome sensory coloring activity, rather than using a coloring book. The slippery cold is fun for kids, and they will see first-hand how ice melts. Simply give your child a piece a paper and let them paint with their ice cube. A blank canvas will engage their creativity, and the more they color, the more they will experience the ice cube melting. Ask them to feel their paper to notice how cold it is!

To wrap up, ask your child open-ended questions to describe the experience. Worksheets do not grow brain cells, sensory activities do! If you’re searching for more sensory activities, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites. Be sure to check them all out!

Taste Testing

Set up a tray of sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, and sour food items for your child to taste. Before starting, ask your child what they think each item will taste like. Talk through each taste with them. To make this even more of an experience, allow your child to choose foods from the grocery store they would like to try!

Shaving Cream or Whipped Cream Play

Put shaving or whipped cream on a cookie sheet and let your little one have at it! Once they’ve gotten a feel for it, ask them to draw certain shapes, letters, or animals.

Make Slime

This is a classic, but also a great sensory activity. This 3-ingredient slime recipe will make for a fluffy, sticky afternoon.

Create Sensory Bags

Sensory bags can eliminate a bit of the mess, but still gives your child an engaging experience. Here is a sensory bag activity using water and oil!

Rice Play

Rice can easily be dyed to make this activity a colorful one. Your child will be able to explore textures and colors and listen to the noises it makes!


Based on an original article by Heather Reyes, Education Specialist at The Sunshine House.

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