Skip to content
Bundle & Save →
Bundle & Save →
Two toddler girls are drawing with colorful pens. Toddlers fun activities, sensory play, educational.

Enhance Your Toddler's Development Through Sensory Play

Today, we will discuss an exciting aspect of your toddler's development - sensory play. If you're a parent to a young one, you're probably excited to find engaging, fun, and educational activities.

Let's explore some great learning activities for toddlers that incorporate sensory play, turning them into powerhouses of learning and fun!

The Importance of Play in Toddler Development

Playtime is serious business when it comes to toddler development. Through play, children explore the world around them, developing crucial skills like:

  •   problem-solving
  •   social interaction
  •   motor control

One type of play that's been gaining popularity recently is sensory play, where activities engage and stimulate a child's senses - sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. This type of play helps to refine their sensory perception, making them more aware of their surroundings and enabling them to learn and understand the world better.

Benefits of Sensory Play

Two toddlers are drawing with colorful pens. Toddlers fun activities, sensory play, educational.

Sensory play offers numerous benefits for toddlers:

1) Cognitive Growth

It fosters cognitive growth by enhancing memory function, problem-solving skills, and language development. By stimulating the senses, children learn to process and respond to different types of information more effectively.

2) Fine and Gross Motor Skills

It promotes fine and gross motor skills as children engage with various textures, shapes, and sizes. It also develops social interaction as children often engage in sensory play together, learning to cooperate, negotiate, and share. Sensory play encourages exploration and natural curiosity, which are essential for creative thinking and innovation.

3) Soothing and Therapeutic

It provides therapeutic benefits, helping to calm anxious or frustrated children and improving focus and attention.

Kids and Grown-Ups Love It So

By the way, even us adults can benefit from sensory play. For example, many of us love to garden! If you incorporate sensory activities in your day, you can experience stress relief, improved attention span, and emotional healing.

So, while sensory play might seem like child's play, its benefits apply to all ages. See this as an invitation to connect with our senses, explore our world, relieve stress, and unlock creativity.

Popular Toddler Learning Activities

Two children are playing with small world figurines. Toddlers fun activities, sensory play, educational.

Now that we understand the importance of play, let's dive into some popular educational activities you can engage your toddler in.

Alphabet games: Alphabet games are an essential learning activity that can be easily blended with sensory play. For instance, our ABC books are a fantastic resource, engaging your child with bright colors, touchable textures, and interactive sounds.

Number and counting games: These help your toddler understand basic math concepts from an early age. Make them fun by incorporating physical objects they can see, touch, and count.

Shapes and colors games: Understanding shapes and colors is integral to a child's cognitive development. Our related books provide a tactile and visual experience, making learning exciting and immersive.

Fun Toddler Activities

At Cali's Books, my mission has always been that fun and learning should go hand in hand.

We're lucky to live in Los Angeles, meaning playing outside is always on the cards. No matter where you live, take advantage of the warmer months by promoting outdoor exploration. Let them feel the texture of leaves, hear the sounds of nature, and see the colors of the world around them.

At home, creative arts and crafts projects can stimulate their imagination. Drawing, painting, and DIY projects like making a simple bird feeder can combine learning with fun. Plus, it means you support wildlife and watch beautiful birds visit your windowsill all year round.

Sensory Play for Toddlers

Two children are playing with small world figurines on the floor and one older child is reading on the couch. Toddlers fun activities, sensory play, educational.

Sensory play goes beyond just touch. It involves all five senses and encourages children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate, and explore. For example, our interactive sound books are perfect sensory tools, combining visual, tactile, and auditory elements into a captivating reading experience.

But there's more to sensory play than just books.

Water Play

Water play is an excellent activity for sensory learning. Fill a shallow container with water and add toys, cups, spoons, or even natural elements like leaves and stones. Seeing how objects float or sink, feeling the temperature and texture of water, and hearing the splashing sounds are all valuable sensory experiences.

Pasta Play

Pasta play is another one of those fun activities for toddlers that engage the senses. Use different shapes and sizes of dyed pasta for your child to explore. The vibrant colors, unique textures, and the fun of scooping and moving the pasta around offer a multitude of sensory inputs.

Jelly Dig

This is a colorful and squishy delight that is bound to engage your toddler. Add small toys or waterproof figures to make some child-friendly jelly, preferably using different colors. We especially love to do this with dinosaurs and fossils! 

Once the jelly sets, your toddler can dig in - literally! They're not just having fun as they squish, scoop, and search to find the hidden treasures. They're also getting a fantastic tactile experience that promotes the development of fine motor skills. The surprise element of discovering hidden objects adds to the excitement and encourages curiosity.

Fruit and Vegetable Stamps

Stamp art is an old favorite with a twist. Cut fruits and vegetables in half (like apples, bell peppers, or potatoes), and dip them in non-toxic paint. Let your toddler stamp them onto paper to create beautiful artwork. This activity is perfect for exploring the textures of different fruits and vegetables and the sensation of the paint.

It's also a great way to introduce your toddler to different fruits and vegetables and discuss their shapes, colors, and textures.

Texture Collage

This is an excellent activity for introducing your toddler to various textures. Collect materials such as cotton balls, sandpaper, foil, bubble wrap, and feathers, and help your toddler stick these onto a piece of cardboard. This creates a texture collage that your child can touch and feel. Each texture provides a different sensory input, helping your child explore and recognize different textures while stimulating their tactile sense.

Ice Exploration

A perfect sensory play activity for the hot summer months! Freeze small toys or colored ice cubes and let your toddler explore as they melt. This is not just a fun way to cool down but also an educational experience. As they hold and play with the ice, they can feel the cold temperature and watch as the solid ice transforms into liquid, introducing them to the concept of melting.

It's a fun, hands-on way to learn about state and temperature changes, laying the groundwork for understanding more complex scientific concepts in the future.

More Things to Do With Your Toddler

Three toddlers are reaching their hand out. Toddlers fun activities, sensory play, educational.

To further engage your toddler, consider activities like reading stories together, cooking and baking, going on scavenger hunts, or even singing and dancing. Actions like these are not just fun, but they promote bonding and create lifelong memories. Check out our blog posts for more ideas on toddler birthday party ideas or games for three-year-olds.

Remember, sensory play doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Even a simple texture collage using materials of different textures, such as cotton balls, sandpaper, foil, bubble wrap, and feathers, can be a fantastic sensory experience. You probably have some of these lying around the house.

Just be sure to supervise because toddlers like to explore by putting things in their mouths. That's part of normal sensory development, by the way!

Final Thoughts

As parents, we often worry about our child's learning. But the truth is, learning can be found in every nook and cranny of your child's world. It's in the bubbles they chase, the pies they pretend to bake in the sandbox, the songs they sing at the top of their lungs, and the pages they turn in a book.

As you explore these sensory play activities with your toddler, remember that the goal isn't just learning the alphabet or numbers. It's about providing rich experiences that stimulate their senses, encourage curiosity, and a love for learning.

Here's to making learning fun and engaging for our little ones! I'm off to grab the pasta off the top shelf to explore what shapes we can make with it.

Previous article The Transition from Newborn to Infant to Toddler Explained
Next article The All-Round Wonders of Patty Cake for Parents and Kids
Cali's Books, founder, about us, why I love books, children's books

Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books

“I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”

I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!

Check out Cali's Books

Read more from Cali's Blog