The snow is up to our windowsills, and the temperature is well below freezing. Nothing new for February in New England, but still… We’re going crazy stuck inside! Especially my two-year-old, who craves changes of scenery and new activities. But what can you do when the chores are done and it’s blizzarding outside?

Let your kids explore with fun sensory activities

Sensory activities are great for kids of all ages. Not only do they keep kids busy, but they also help them develop cognitive, linguistic, social/emotional, and fine motor skills. Each child can use the materials how he or she wants, and since there is rarely an end product, the emphasis is on the process.

Did I mention that they’re tons of fun?

If you’re stuck inside because it’s too cold, too hot, or too rainy to go outside, here are 10 sensory activities for toddlers to keep everyone happy and sane!

Sensory Activities: Oobleck

Getting it’s name from the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck, this silly sounding goop is both entertaining and educational. Oobleck has properties of both a liquid and a solid at room temperature. You can run your fingers through it like water, and then place more pressure on it and it acts like a solid. Very cool stuff!

What you need for this project:


Pour the water into a bowl. Add these natural food dyes to the water if you choose, or instead of water you could use leftover beet or berry water.

Slowly add the cornstarch until you reach the desired thickness.

Some ideas for using oobleck:

  • Have your kids mold the oobleck into containers. What happens when you remove the container?
  • Have them slowly lower their hands into the mix and then quickly try to remove it.
  • Ask them to squeeze the oobleck between their fingers. What happens?

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Sensory Activities: Slime

Another fun goop to play with, slime is a great sensory activity to exercise little muscles and is lots of fun too.


What you need for this project:

Mix the liquid starch with the food coloring or glitter first. Then add the glue and stir. Keep stirring until it starts to gel. At this point you can use your hands to continue the process. The more you play with it, the less sticky and more goopy it gets.

Sensory Activities: Play Dough


What sensory list would be complete without play dough? It’s easy to make at home, and is fun for kids (and adults!) of all ages.

What you need for this project:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil (olive works fine)
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • Natural food coloring or glitter (optional)

Add all ingredients to a pan and cook on medium/low heat. Keep cooking until it’s doughy and not sticky anymore.

Add food coloring and knead the dough until the color is distributed evenly. You can also color your play dough with concentrated beet juice.


Sensory Activities: Indoor Snow

This “snow” can be used for building, scooping, shaping… you name it! It is a bit messy, so make sure to have newspaper or an old sheet to protect surfaces.

What you need for this project:

  • 3 bars of soap, grated
  • 1 roll of toilet paper
  • Warm water
  • Plastic bin

Tear up the toilet paper into small pieces and throw it and the grated soap into the bin. Next add warm water a little at a time while squishing and smooshing the mixture.  It will feel like squishing your hands in mud (which is why it’s also known as clean mud).

Sensory Activities: Explore Music

Music is a great way to get active when you’re stuck inside. Hitting a drum, blowing into a harmonica, and singing all exercise the body.


If you don’t already have instruments available, you can make simple homemade drums with just about anything around the house: Coffee cans, pots and pans, even cardboard boxes are great, and each one sounds different.

Singing or listening to music together is another fun way to explore music. For younger kiddos, choose a sequencing song to sing together. Sequencing songs are songs that repeat the beginning many times throughout the song. Feel free to add hand or body movements to go with the lyrics.

Some examples are “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” “Five Little Ducks went out to Play,” “Old Macdonald Had a Farm,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” and “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”

Older children might enjoy sharing their favorite songs with you or exploring new genres of music such as African rhythm, Classical, Bebop or Latin.

Sensory Activities: Lavender Rice Bin

This activity is less messy than some of the others, and is great for reducing stress. The lavender essential oil is safe and soothing so it’s a great activity for a post meltdown or after school activity. It’s also a great choice for sensory exploration because it incorporates three senses: touch, hearing and smell.


What you need for this project:

Pour the white rice into the bin and add a few drops of lavender. Mix with your hands. Let your kiddo choose what tools and small toys to use in their new rice sandbox.

Sensory Activities: Scent Jars

Scent jars are a great way to explore smells and learn a bit about the scientific process.


What you need for this project:

Add the scent to the cotton ball and place the cotton ball in the jar. Then put the lid on.

Label the jars with color coded stickers.

You can make as many different jars as you like and use them in a number of ways.

  • Make two jars of each scent and ask your child to pick which ones match.
  • Write the name of the scent on a card and ask your child to match the smell to the name. Add a way to check their work by placing a same colored sticker on the back of the card as on the jar.
  • Make jars with nice smells and some with yucky smells (vinegar, strong smelling herbs or essential oils) ask them to write down (or just tell you) which ones they like and which ones they don’t like. Older kids love getting grossed out by the yucky smells!

Sensory Activities: Water Play

Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you have to forgo water play.


Set up a few dishes with water as well as some scoops, sponges, and other tools for manipulating the water right on your dishwasher door. There is less mess to clean up, and the dishwasher door is usually a good height for little ones.

If you don’t have a dishwasher, fill the sink or tub with water, bubbles, tools, and toys. This activity will keep kids busy for quite a while!

Sensory Activities: Cook Together

Cooking with your kids is a great way to build their self esteem, provide an important life skill, teach math and science skills, and teach them to be healthy eaters!

  • Experiment with opposites for your meal or snack: salty vs. sweet, crunchy vs. soft, hot vs. cold.
  • Try new foods and have your kids write down what they taste sweet, salty, sour, or bitter and what other food it reminds them of. Making it an experiment is a great way to get picky eaters to try new things!
  • Bake something together. Kids love to pour and stir. I bet they would be pretty happy to eat whatever they make too.

Sensory Activities: Sensory Bags

This activity is very simple. Just fill a freezer bag with shaving cream, hair gel, aloe vera gel, clay, dry beans etc., and you have a mess free sensory activity that your kids can use anywhere.


Kids love squishing and rolling the bag. You may want to put some tape on the top of the bag  just in case.

How about you?

What are your go-to sensory activities for kids? What activities hold their attention longest? Share with us in the comments below.