Sensory activities are activities that stimulate one or more of the five senses: touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. Such activities introduce children to new textures, tastes, smells, and more, allowing children to observe and experiment new things in a safe, familiar environment.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best sensory activities for toddlers, and they’re easy enough to do right from your home.

Colored Spaghetti

Cook spaghetti and use food coloring to dye the noodles different colors. Let your toddler play with the noodles however he or she wants. You can put the noodles in a bag and let them feel the spaghetti through the bag, or you can put the noodles in a bowl so your toddler can touch the pasta directly. Plus, who doesn’t love an edible toy?
The different colors introduces your child to colors, and the cooked spaghetti introduces them to unique textures. If your child doesn’t like a certain food because of its texture, sensory play is a great way to get them comfortable with that food. After playing with it for a few times, your child may be less opposed to the “weird texture” when eating it.

Ice Cube Sensory Play

Add some food coloring and water to an ice cube tray to create colorful ice cubes. Your child will have the chance to recognize colors and experience feeling something cold, as well as watch the ice melt and lose its cold temperature. If you want to add an extra dimension to this activity, put legos or other small objects in the ice trays before you freeze them. This gives your child the chance to observe ice melting and releasing an object that was initially stuck.

Sensory Bags

The possibilities for sensory bags are endless! Fill a gallon-sized plastic bag with different objects, and let your child have fun moving things around and watching the results. Here are a few of our favorite ideas of things you can fill sensory bags with:

  • Big and mini marshmallows
  • Water and sequins and/or glitter
  • Paint
  • Googly eyes
  • Water and marbles
  • Sand

Let your toddler explore the sensory bag on his own, or ask questions along the way, such as, “Can you separate the blue marble from the rest?” If you’re not quite sure how to make a sensory bag, here’s a great tutorial on DIY sensory bags.
These sensory exercises contribute to toddlers’ cognitive development and problem solving skills. What sensory activities have you tried with your toddler, and which ones do they like best?