Everyday sensory play in preschool

Sensory play is an important part of early childhood development. It lets children explore and learn about their world through what they do best – play.  We do lots of different kind of sensory play in preschool and I thought I would show some of the materials we have used this year so far…

As much as children love sensory play – adults tend to dread it.   Sensory play can be messy and a daunting task for adults to keep up with.  So the key is to approach sensory play with the right mindset. First, it is important to remember that children learn best when they can actually touch, see, smell, taste, hear, and manipulate the materials in their world…

As children scoop up seeds or rice or other small items and fill up a container, they are discovering how much that container can hold before it overflows.. Sensory play promotes spacial awareness, mathematical thinking, and scientific exploration and discovery…

Sometimes sensory play is simply a great way for children to relieve their stress. Sensory play can be very soothing and relaxing to a young child…

Sensory play is also a great way to foster fine motor development. Rolling and cutting up play dough or scooping and pouring water and beans all involve eye -hand coordination and fine motor control.  In the process of playing with these materials, children are building the skills and muscles they will need for handwriting and other more formal educational processes down the road…

Sensory play can involved just about any kind of material you can think of from sticks and leaves to water, playdough, goop, beans, rice, pasta, paper, straws, and the list goes on. If it can be put in a tub along with a few tools for play and the freedom to explore and manipulate, then it can be used for sensory play…

Adding tools for sensory play is always a must. We have an entire shelf of baskets filled with cups, laundry lids, shovels, measuring spoons, tweezers, magnifiers, and other items. We rotate the items frequently and the children use those items in the sensory tubs. It is more fun to scoop up pasta and pour it from one container to another than just to have a container of pasta. Tools for play help make sensory play more interesting and engaging…

We have some sort of sensory play out for the children just about every day.  There is rarely a day that we don’t have a sensory tub or some kind of sensory activity out for the children to explore.  On most days, we even have more than one kind of sensory activity for the children to choose from…

I set out materials and tools for sensory play in a variety of ways. Sometimes, I set the materials out in trays and other times I use tubs. By giving the children a tray or tub, they have their working space to explore…

I also have a water and sand table that we rotate items for sensory play in…

Just because you use a material once, doesn’t mean you can’t use it again. Children don’t mind playing with the same materials many times over. Each time they use the materials, they will invent new ideas for play and imagination…


Everyday Sensory Play


Every Day Sensory Play Linky

Do you have a sensory play post to share with us? Then check out the linky below..

To join in on the “Every Day Sensory Play” linky fun, be sure to add the “Every Day Sensory Play” button to your post and link back here! I will be hosting the “Every Day Sensory Play” party at least once a month so save your new ideas to share again soon – we would all love to see them!


  1. says

    What a fabulous post….and linky! It makes my heart sing to read your post as I share the passion! :)
    I am very new to the blogosphere and hope to share this paasion the same way you do. You are an inspiration and I look forward to reading more….
    Thanks xx

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Janice – I LOVED your jelly sensory! I already shared it on Facebook too! I am now following that blog of yours!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Heidi – I appreciate you stopping by and keeping in touch. You are an amazing educator with wonderful resources. It is my honor to have you here sharing with me.

  2. says

    These are so many great ideas!! My little baby is older now, so I have being doing more sensory activities with her too. I need to start documenting them since otherwise I tend to forget them. The pom pom magnet one is one of my favorites that you shared I need to try that still!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      How old is she now Kristina? I love the pom pom magnets too. We use them in all kinds of ways.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Let’s just hope I can keep up with this idea. I have a tendency to change my mind:)

  3. Andrea says

    Last year we did a little unit on farming and the grain chain, so I put out bowls of flour, farro wheat, rice and I think I even threw some popcorn kernels in there, too. My kiddos had so much fun mixing and stirring – we had flour everywhere! The best was my one class who decided they wanted to take some of it home, so I sent little ziploc bags filled for each of them at the end of the day. Their moms were more than confused until I explained that no, they weren’t for eating! :)

    This past week we learned about dinosaurs, so I hid dog biscuits in the sandbox for them to dig out. They loved it!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      I love the dog biscuits! And I love that you sent some home. I have been saving plastic bottles and my students take home some of whatever we play with in the bottles just about every time.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      I will have to remember your pinterest next time I am in need of another sensory idea!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      There are definitely lots of ideas for both food and nonfood sensory play!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Isn’t it wonderful Myra – there really are enough ideas for sensory play every day!!

  4. says

    I love your post on the sensory table. Thanks for all the great ideas that we can share with the teachers at our preschool!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      We tried several methods but in the end we ended up adding dry powdered jello to the popcorn after it was popped and shook it in bags to coat all the popcorn. It was an unusual mix of sweet and salty (and buttery) but the kids liked it anyway:)