Sensory activities help children develop language, problem-solving and fine motor skills, among others. Learn tips to create quick and easy sensory activities for preschoolers.

Preschoolers are extremely curious. They constantly touch everything they can get their hands on, trying to figure out the world around them. Sensory activities, such as sensory bins and playdough trays, give them a safe place to develop their problem-solving skills and satisfy their curiosity.

5 Simple Tips for Creating the Best Sensory Activities

5 Quick and Easy Tips for Preschool Sensory Activities

  1. Let your child be your guide.
  2. Create themed bins for easy setup.
  3. Keep it simple and inexpensive.
  4. Use materials that allow easy storage.
  5. Don’t fall into the comparison trap.

Let your child be your guide

The easiest way to start creating sensory activities is to let your child’s interests guide you. Children tend to gravitate toward things that interest them, so when you set up your first sensory activities, use what they already like. Plus your child will be more focused on items they enjoy, which will keep them busy while you cook or homeschool your other children.

For example, if your child loves vehicles, then make up a batch of playdough that you color brown, like a road over which they can drive toy cars. Small plastic trees or street signs can be added to the tray for additional fun. Perhaps your child is obsessed with princesses. Then you can put plastic jewels, a scoop or tongs, and a bowl in a sensory bin. When you create sensory activities based on your child’s interests, they will definitely be a hit!

Let your child help choose materials for sensory activities

Does your little preschooler love to “help” you? My preschooler loves to help me cook, clean, and shop. When I head to the craft store for seasonal materials to include in his sensory activities, I bring him along. He loves to peruse through everything in the seasonal items aisle. Then his face lights up at home when he recognizes items he helped choose in his sensory bins!

As often as you’re able, bring your little one along with you when you choose materials for their sensory activities. They will enjoy being mom’s special helper. Better yet, they’ll feel so grown up when they get to pick some of the items for their sensory bins.

Create themed sensory activities for easy setup

Another easy way to decide on what kind of activities to create is to make sensory bins or playdough trays based on themes. Along with creating activities based on your child’s interests, use current seasons or holidays for ideas. Plus you’ll be able to find materials more easily in the stores when your themes match the current seasonal items available.

For example, in the springtime, create a garden-themed sensory bin. This bin works well with black beans as the filler to look like soil. Then add additional materials like plastic flowers. A small flowerpot and a scoop also pair nicely for a garden bin. Using a calendar as your guide makes it easy to come up with themed sensory bins throughout the year.

Keep it simple and inexpensive

However, you certainly don’t need to come up with elaborate themes for sensory activities for your preschooler. One of my son’s favorite sensory bins is rice with a scoop and a bowl. Yep. You really can’t get much simpler than that.

The first month I created sensory bins, I was so excited to make them that I came up with some cute themes and spent time putting them together. But my son continually asked for the rice bin that I threw together for him to play with while I made the elaborate themed bins. Isn’t that how it always goes with kids?

If money is tight or you aren’t sure what kind of sensory activities your child will prefer, then create a couple of simple ones first. You can test out different fillers for sensory bins to see which ones your child prefers. Maybe your child can’t stand the feel of rice, but they love the clank of beans as they drop into a bowl. Perhaps they struggle with tongs right now, but they love scoops. Use what you have around the house to keep these easy and inexpensive to prepare, yet fun for your child.

Use materials that allow easy storage

If you plan to create sensory activities on a regular basis, then you’ll want to find an easy way to store the materials when not in use. For example, we have an empty cabinet in our dining room, so I store all of our extra sensory materials in there. It’s easy to access so I can quickly set up a bin or two each month, yet it’s also hidden and doesn’t clutter up our house.

Additionally, you can store sensory items in mason jars or plastic ziptop baggies to store on cabinet shelves. This also saves time when you create activities. A quick glance into your cabinet and you’ll easily see what you have. If you have to dig through drawers and open containers to see what is available, you probably will not make these sensory bins very often.

You may also want to choose containers with lids for your sensory bins and playdough trays. For example, I like to make all of my sensory materials for the month at the same time. Having lids on the containers allows me to create the activities and stack them on a bookshelf until they are used. Then when playtime is over, I simply shut the lid and store it back on the shelf. Containers with lids will make storage of the bins simple.

Don’t fall into the comparison trap

If you spend much time on social media, I’m sure you’ve noticed perfectly themed, elaborate sensory bins and playdough trays. It’s easy to look at those perfect bins, staged with the best lighting, and feel like your sensory activities are insignificant. But don’t fall into the comparison trap!

Your child loves the sensory activities you create best, especially if you allowed them a hand in creating them! As I mentioned above, one of my preschooler’s favorite sensory bins is rice with a scoop and bowl. The love you put into the sensory activities you create for your child will make them absolutely perfect in your child’s eyes!

Help your child learn vital development skills through play with creative sensory activities. Your child will love playing with sensory bins and playdough trays that they help create. By following the tips above, it’s easy to make quick activities for hours of skill-building entertainment.

About Christy Jacob

Christy is a homeschooling mom of four children, from toddler to teen. She shares tips and ideas on creating a natural environment for learning at her blog, Homeschooling in Progress.

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