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Monday, January 16, 2017

Must Have Materials for Sensory Play

If you follow me on Instagram you'll be well aware of my love of sensory play. We're constantly using food items, water, craft bits and pieces, left over packaging and basically anything we can get our hands on for sensory play. 

There's a plethora of items available for sensory play, you just need to know where to look, so this week I've invited my friend Casey from Little Lifelong Learners, who has many years experience as a teacher and a stay at home mum to two little ones, to share her favourite must have materials for sensory play.

sensory bottles.


As a teacher and mama, my collection of educational toys and resources is ever growing. I’m actually kind of embarrassed to share images of the play room cupboard because it is overflowing with goodies! It’s hard to resist when there are so many amazing resources for play and learning which are so easily accessed. Today I’m thrilled to be guest posting here at Finding Myself Young and sharing my favourite items for Sensory Play at home with your Little Learners!


Sensory Play is notorious for being messy, but that shouldn’t discourage you. Large, shallow tubs are great for sensory play and you can find them at your local supermarket. I love using big under-bed storage crates or clear plastic containers. I recently bought a shallow Trofast Box from Ikea which has been great for sensory tubs and experiments. The Creative Toy Shop also stock tuff trays which are perfect for sensory play.

sensory play basic items including trays and tubs.

An old bed sheet is also wonderful for catching any spills that might will occur while playing. You can also get splash mats or plastic sheeting which would work just as well, especially for things like edible paint.

Always remember to have everything on hand for easy clean-up afterwards as well. You shouldn’t ever leave your Little Learners unsupervised to go and get supplies. My basics for cleaning include a dustpan and brush, wipes and my trusty vacuum.


Many great items for sensory play can be found at your local supermarket. Staple household items like flour, oil, salt and cream of tartar can be used to make play dough. Food dyes and essences are a great way to develop the sense of taste and smell too.

food items for sensory play.

Large bags of rice are often on sale at places like Woolworths and Coles which you can dye different colours. I save mine in a container and use it for well over a year! Follow these step by step instructions to dye rice for sensory play. Simply add it to a tub with some different sized measuring cups, containers and spoons {from the supermarket too} and your Little Learner can work on their pouring and transferring skills.

sensory play tools.

Selected Woolworths also stock the plastic variety of the very popular Voss water bottles {you can also get them at Amazon AU or Amazon}. They make FANTASTIC sensory bottles which you can fill with just about anything. One of our favourites include musical bottles using things like bells, paddle pop sticks, pebbles and shells. You can also find lots of other similar empty bottles perfect for sensory play on Amazon.

sensory bottle ideas.


Small World invitations are a great way to engage the senses, particularly if you use different textures in your play. By using things like dirt, sand, water, ice, beans and rice, you are encouraging your Little Learners to touch and explore while developing their vocabulary too. You can also get fake grass from places like Bunnings which makes a great base for small world play.

You can get beautiful, realistic animals from places like The Creative Toy Shop, Mini Zoo, Amazon and even Kmart. Dollar stores and pet shops also have fantastic items like synthetic aquarium plants, stones and artificial plants which are wonderful for small world invitations.

Bug small world invitation to play on kmart train table


Exploring art is a big part of sensory play because it can engage so many of the senses. You can find wonderful art resources from websites like Zart Art, Spotlight, and Etsy. However, your local shopping centre will be a treasure trove for art resources. Your local dollar shop or Kmart will have everything you need. 

I love things like ice-cube trays or simple plastic trays for pouring paint into and you can get washable paints by Crayola from places like Amazon, Kmart, Target or Big W. You can get different textured rollers and paint brushes from these store as well. There are also lots of fun sensory painting ideas using other items from around the house.

As you can see, there are many places you can go shopping for sensory play materials, many of which can be found at your local shopping centre. Thrift stores are also a treasure trove for sensory play materials such as trays, bowls, jugs and utensils. Before you know it, your cupboard will be overflowing with sensory play goodness too!

must have items for sensory play.

Casey Patch founder of Little Lifelong Learners

My name is Casey and I am the teacher mama behind LittleLifelong Learners. I love to provide teachers and parents with play and learning inspiration for the classroom and home. If you’d like more play inspiration, feel free to follow me on Instagram or Pinterest. You can also check out my brand new book Sensory Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers by casey patch

Sensory Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers is a practical, hands-on guide for parents and educators that want to inject more play into their children's day Since this collection features simple sensory play ideas with items you already have in your home, playtime has never been easier.

Inside the book, you'll find 40 easy sensory play tubs and activities with extra bonus ideas for extending the activities even further Not only will your child be learning and exploring through play, but you'll also be creating some magical memories of playtime that will last a lifetime

order sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers online now
BUY NOW: Amazon | Amazon AU

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.

Would you like to comment?

  1. I remember these type of items from when Mr 9 was a lot younger. Painting was the best! #OpenSlather

    Di from Max The Unicorn

  2. I LOVED making sensory play happen with my grandkids when we cared for them each week 2008-2014. I made various things up including coloured rice and little pebbles from hardware stories. I was far less worried about messy then than I would have been as a parent. I took more time to just watch and that was fab. Great idea here. Love this! Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek 3/52 Denyse

  3. Loved these ideas. I'm a primary teacher during the day, and after many years in the middle grades, I asked to be moved to the preps this year as I felt it was time for a change to avoid stagnation. I plan on having lots of sensory experiences available!

  4. I love sensory play, and your ideas are great. We tend to forget that even older kids enjoy get messy as much as young ones. Imagination is the limit! ***from Mummy Mondays Linkup***

  5. As the kids have gotten older I don't do as much sensory play activities. To tell the truth, they really could do more. They had a great time making 'glitter' jars out of tinsel yesterday, with some scissors, water and old jars. Petals from the garden, and little foil shapes ended up in the jars too. It kept them busy for ages.

  6. What is the table used in "Small World Invitations"?

    1. Hi, it's the kmart train table with some astro turf cut to size on top.