DIY sensory play base recipes
Welcome to the no fuss and super basic sensory base recipe resource. Yes there are probably recipes out there that are a lot more in depth and perhaps rock star quality…. But I’m all about quick, easy and cost effective with minimal materials (because mum life). So if this too is you then I’ve got you covered. Simplicity is key!
Sensory play has soooooo many benefits! It pretty much covers all the things – great for fine motor skills, supports language development, encourages scientific thinking, is a great calming activity and is a fantastic way to tune into all the senses.
I know, I know you hear sensory play and your mind immediately thinks of a chaotic mess that needs to be cleaned after. But I promise its not that scary. Keep your bases stored in a large container (with lid), then to keep it contained, place an old sheet on the floor and have wipes nearby. I go rouge and don't use anything, what are vacuums for, right? I simply enjoy the quiet and take comfort in the fact that it’s a calming and beneficial sensory activity, for me the mess is worth it.
Don’t forget to let your little one be a part of the process in the making of these recipes (if your up to the challenge that is!). Its half the fun for them, they are more likely to be intrigued this way and there is also the opportunity to incorporate sneaky therapy….
“Can you hold the bowl with that hand so you can use this one to pour the mixture in”
“Feel the texture so far, what does it feel like? #clever
What you need?
1. Grab a container, bowl or dish of some sort.
2. Pour in some corn flour. Amount is up to you depending on how much goop your willing to let your little's get their hands into.
3. Add some water, start small and decide the consistency your happy with. Too little means it will be chunky and hard to play with, too much means it will be too watery.
4. Add some colour! A tiny drop of food colouring, key word being tiny. Unless you're after stained hands for a while.
5. Depending on your intended use add some extra materials to encourage imaginative play.
Leaving it as is will create a fascinating sensory experience on its own. Adding things (eg, plastic animals) may enhance your therapy play or target a specific skill.
Oh, top tip! keep a wet washer or wipes handy
Home made paint is a great alterative to craft paint for our little ones that enjoy tasting and mouthing, I have quite the oral sensory seeker so this recipe was a staple in our house. A lot safer then store brought paint.
What you need?
-flour (or self raising flour)
1. Add a few spoonful's of flour into a bowl.
2. Add some water less for a thicker paint consistency or more to create a runny paint.
3. Add a drop or two of food colouring and mix in.
4. Repeat process to make as many colours as you wish.
Paint away (eat away haha)!
Perhaps one of my favourite sensory bases and its not messy at all (jokes, but its worth it I promise). The texture, the colours, the sounds…Oh so satisfying! Chickpeas also work great and if your just not ready for rice you can substitute for pasta.
What you need?
-zip lock bags or container with lid
-oil (we use essential oils with a tiny bit
of vinegar – hello calming lavender oil)
1. Fill zip lock bag or container with desired amount of rice.
2. Add a few drops of colouring (start with a few, you can always add a few more after following steps).
3. Either add half a teaspoon of oil or a few drops of essential oil and a dash of vinegar.
4. Shake, shake and shake some more. This is the fun part that our little people tend to want to help with. HOT TIP, make sure the lid or zip on bag is done up tight (ain’t no one got time for a rice explosion).
5. Repeat process depending on how many colours you want to make.
The rage at the moment is kinetic sand, magic sand, cotton sand…all the different types of sensory sand. I get it, I find myself having a great old time with my childrens! Don’t have any, make your own DIY version and give it a cool fancy name – 'cloud dough'.
What you need?
-food colouring or craft dye (optional)
-oil (we use vegetable oil)
1.Don’t be scared off by this super confusing recipe… to start with combine the flour and oil, then mix. Step two, there isn’t one! Amazing right. I usually add about 7-8 cups of flour and ¾ cups of oil but experiment.
Its meant to be lumpy, that’s the best part as it sticks together a little.
Now playdough definitely doesn't get the street cred it deserves! It is up there with one of my go to sensory play experiences, I think parents shy away from it because they think it will stick to everything. Not true. Have a go at making your own, I think you will be impressed. Plus the benefits of playdough are endless. Do it!
What you need?
-2 cups of boiled water
-4tbs cream of tartar
-1 cup of salt
-2 cups of plain flour (bit extra for
the end to balance it out if too sticky)
1. Add all of the dry ingredients to bowl, mix
2. Add the oil and boiling water, mix (as best you can).
3. As soon as I can handle it I empty the bowl of mixed ingredients onto the kitchen bench and knead it all together to blend it all together.
4. If the playdough still feels a bit sticky add a little more flour until you achieve the consistency you desire (too much makes it dry though).
5. We like to divide it up and add different colours, this is the part my girls love to help with – blending the colours in to transform the playdough (a sensory experience in itself!)
Store in an air tight container.
A little time poor? No worries, there are endless ideas for sensory bases that don't require any prep.
-Ice and water
-Pom Poms and feathers
-Beads and buttons
Once you have your base you can either leave it as is or add tools. Think animals and loose parts to create small words, tongs to practice gross motor skills or cups for tipping and spilling. Sensory play works on so many skills without your child even knowing. They foster creative and spark imagination while tuning into all of the senses . But perhaps one of the best parts, there is no right or wrong way. Sensory play is for all abilities!