9 Sensory Stimulation Activities for Toddlers

Featured image of little girl taking crayons to draw

Sensory stimulation and games that promote sensory exploration are really welcome for the development of your child. If you think about it, they are already exploring their smell of touch, smell, hearing, and sight, by interacting with objects in their vicinity. But everyday objects aren’t made from sensory stimulating material. So it’s up to us, parents, to create games and activities that will help them explore their senses by introducing specific materials and shapes that they can experience.

What’s important is to keep it interesting and always strive towards finding new materials to make these activities even more engaging and rewarding for them. But sometimes, especially after a hard day of work, you don’t feel like being creative and inventive. That’s why we’ve prepared this list of sensory exploration activities most of which you can create with household supplies. But first, let’s explain how empathy works in children.

When Do Kids Develop Empathy

General studies have shown that empathy in kids can be manifested in kids as young as two years old. It is then that they start to understand how people around them feel, no matter in which emotional state they are in. They are able to differentiate different moods and what’s causing them. Also, it is then that 2-year-olds start to understand the concept of emotions and personal feeling more deeply than ever before. From this point on, they develop their empathic skills and nurture them depending on the type of person they’re becoming to be.

How to Teach Kids Empathy

If you notice that your child might be going in direction when their sense for empathy is starting to fade out, there are things that you can do to help them develop it. Playing role games in which you show how cause and effect work in situations where emotions of other people are in stake is a perfect way to do teach them empathy. You can practice with a variety of games which are similar in concept that put them in a situation where empathic behavior is simply born due to the gravity of the situation. Be sure not to overdo it though. You wouldn’t want them to become fearful or shy when it comes to expressing emotions, thoughts, and ideas.

What is Empathy for Kids

Although an unfamiliar topic for them, empathy can be taught to kids. Noticing that your child has no understanding of how feelings work is when you should start talking to your kids about empathy. They won’t develop it instantaneously but gradually after each example. If you dedicate your time and energy to explain and show in examples how empathy works, you’ll be able to actually train them to think before speaking in a way that the other person’s feelings are hurt.

Image of toddler playing with sensory blocks

Teaching Kids Empathy Activities

Teaching empathy for kids is important. Whether a preschooler or a toddler, kids can be mean. But this is mostly because they don’t really understand how feelings and empathy work. A good way to teach them to be more compassionate and empathic is to talk to them after every conflict, while watching TV, or by reading them a story and discussing about feelings of each character. Another great way to do so is with examples in real life. For example, if they share a story about their kindergarten activities you can pick a specific situation where their feelings were hurt and explain it thoroughly.

Macaroni Time

Every toddler loves playing this game, and if you want to make it even more interesting the only thing you’ll need is a couple of different shaped cups and bottles. Let them explore their sense of touch by piling up some macaroni on a blanket, playmat or any other surface and create a fun activity by placing these cups, lids, and bottles for them to transport and fill them with macaroni. Being that they didn’t have a chance to play with macaroni before, they’ll love the fact that they can fill bottles and cups with this new sensory stimulating toy.

Drawing With Cornmeal

Another interesting material to use in sensory activities for toddler is cornmeal. For this activity, all you’ll need is a wide, flat surface and some cornmeal. Pour some on the surface and let them feel the texture of this new substance for a while. Once they get familiar with it, create a drawing event and set some shapes to draw. You can use toys or other simple-shaped objects to use as models for drawing. They’ll enjoy drawing these shapes as it’s just like playing with sand. And everyone loves playing with sand.

Exotic Treasure Box

Get an old jewelry box or anything or the sort that has an interesting design and fill it with random items, toys, and material that they can touch and feel. The goal is to introduce as many different materials as possible. Start by placing interesting material in the “treasure box” and add a couple of unique items like coins, trinkets and that of a sort. Now, simply let them explore and take the content out of the box one piece at a time. This will always be an interesting experience for them as you can change the content that’s in the box every time!

Image of girl playing with tiny cushions

Sensory Bag

This one is easy to make. All you’ll need is some hair gell, googly eyes or other interesting accessories and a plastic bag. To start, fill the bag with some hair gell. Make sure that the bag can be sealed whether with an airtight lid or other methods. The bag also has to be waterproof and without any punctures or holes. Now that you have the hair gell inside, add some interesting items that will float and keep their attention. Now you can present this new toddler sensory activity exploration toy and watch them play with it for hours. Pro-tip, you can change the hair gell and add different colors each time to keep things interesting.

Corn Kernels

When your toddler gets tired of same old toys, you can start introducing them with sensory exploration DIY projects. Another great way to stimulate their senses is with corn kernels. The best way to go about making this a fun activity is to place the kernel in plastic containers. They’ll love the sound that it makes when it falls on a plastic surface, and if you choose the right shapes they’ll have lots of options for transporting kernel from one container to another. Be sure to place the containers on a blanket or something that will keep kernels in one spot if they spill.

DIY Rainbow Slime

Although slime can collect a lot of dirt and isn’t the most ideal toy for toddlers, you can make your own batch every time you want to introduce sensory stimulation activities to your child. You can add ingredients like glitter or something similar, but the core concept is the same. To create your own rainbow slime all you’ll need is liquid starch, school glue, and some food coloring. Mix those three in a bowl until you get a slimy substance. Once it’s done, you’ll have a brand new toy for your little one to play and explore scenes with.

Colored Rice

Playing with a bowl of different-colored rice is always a welcome activity for your youngling. Next to the fact that this game stimulates their visual senses, it also allows them to explore their other senses like touch and hearing. So how to create such a game? You’ll need three things to start: a plastic box, with separated containers; some different-colored rice, and some black beans, sand toys or other favorite items. Start by filling the containers with rice, then simply place beans or toys on top. They’ll have a unique playground and lots of ways to play with the material presented to them.

Chocolate Sand Games

Spending a day at the beach with your little one is a fun activity for the entire family. Playing with the sand can mean so much for your little one’s sensory development and exploration. But what happens on rainy days or when a beach isn’t in your neighborhood? You create fake sand. For this sensory activity, all you’ll need is plastic cups, containers and sand toys. To create fake sand, use flour, chocolate powder for fragrance, and oil. Mix these three ingredients until you get a sand-like texture. You can add food coloring as well to make things even more interesting. Now, place this fake sand in a wide plastic container and watch your kid play for hours.

Colored Chickpeas

Another grocery item that you can use to create sensory exploration activity is chickpeas. Play with food coloring and create different colored chickpeas for your kid to play with. For this DIY project, you’ll need chickpeas, some food coloring or watercolors, and a plastic bag. How to make it? Place the chickpeas in a plastic bag, add color, and squish the bag until fully mixed. Food coloring is a better solution because it’s edible and you won’t have to worry whether they take a bite or not. The best thing about this project is that it takes literally 5 minutes to make it. Chickpeas will dry instantly the moment they are out of the bag.

Although there are many ways to use household supplies to create sensory activities for your dearest, you should always aim for different ingredients so that your child can explore their senses. They are great for indoor as well as outdoor activities so no matter where you’re at you’ll always have time to create this fun and beneficial activity for your little one.

Author: Catherine Evans
Author: Catherine Evans

Catherine is a writer from Canada who simply loves toys, collectibles and superhero figurines. Writing is her passion, but she also loves reading, enjoying her “me time” and finding new ways to improve her work and ways to entertain the readers.

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