top of page

10 DIY Sensory Recipes for Toddlers

Creating sensory recipes for toddlers and preschoolers is not just about the fun; it's an essential part of their developmental journey. These activities can enhance their sensory experiences, promote exploration, and support the development of fine motor skills, language, and cognitive growth.

Here are ten sensory recipes that are safe, easy to make, and provide endless educational play opportunities.

1. Edible Sand


  • 2 cups of brown sugar

  • 1 cup of fine cornmeal

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil

How to Use: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Spread it out on a tray to create a sandy beach. Provide cups, spoons, or small toys for digging and building. This activity is excellent for tactile exploration and can spark conversations about textures and measurements.

2. Homemade Playdough


  • 2 cups of flour

  • 1/2 cup of salt

  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 cups of boiling water

  • Food coloring (optional)

How to Use: Combine the dry ingredients, add oil, and then slowly mix in the boiling water until the dough forms. Once cooled, knead it into a smooth texture. If using, divide the dough and add different food colorings. This playdough is perfect for practicing fine motor skills, creativity, and color recognition.

3. Cloud Dough


  • 8 cups of flour

  • 1 cup of baby oil

How to Use: Mix the ingredients until the mixture becomes crumbly but can hold its shape when squeezed. Use it for molding shapes, creating landscapes, or simply for the joy of running fingers through it. It's a fantastic way for sensory exploration and fostering imagination.

4. Magic Mud


  • 2 parts cornstarch

  • 1 part water

  • Food coloring (optional)

How to Use: Mix cornstarch and water until you achieve a thick consistency. Add food coloring for visual stimulation if desired. This non-Newtonian fluid is intriguing for kids as it acts like both a solid and a liquid. Great for sensory play and introducing basic scientific concepts.

5. Oobleck


  • 1 part water

  • 1.5-2 parts cornstarch

  • A few drops of food coloring (optional)

How to Use: Mix the ingredients in a bowl until you get a gooey consistency. Let children explore its unique texture and experiment with pressure to see how it changes. This activity is perfect for sensory exploration and understanding cause and effect.


6. Scented Rice for Sensory Bins


  • 4 cups of white rice

  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar

  • Food coloring

  • Essential oils (lavender, lemon, etc.)

How to Use: Mix the rice with vinegar and food coloring, spread it out to dry, then add a few drops of essential oil. Use this scented rice in sensory bins with cups, spoons, or toys for pouring, filling, and transferring activities, enhancing fine motor skills and sensory perception.

7. Water Beads


How to Use: Hydrate water beads according to package instructions. Use them in a large container for scooping, transferring, and squishing. This activity is excellent for sensory exploration and can be a calming experience for children.

8. Ice Painting


  • Ice cubes

  • Food coloring

  • Popsicle sticks

How to Use: Freeze food coloring in ice cube trays with a popsicle stick in each compartment. Once frozen, let children paint with the ice cubes on paper. This activity is great for exploring temperature, color mixing, and creativity.

9. Nature Soup


  • Water

  • Flowers, leaves, twigs (anything natural and safe to touch)

How to Use: Fill a large container with water, and let children add the natural items to create their "soup." Provide spoons, ladles, and pots for stirring and serving. This activity encourages exploration of natural textures and scents and promotes imaginative play.

child making stone soup

10. Jelly Play


  • Gelatin

  • Water

  • Food coloring or natural juice for color

How to Use: Prepare the gelatin according to package instructions, adding color as desired. Once set, place the jelly in a large container for children to squish, scoop, and cut through. This sensory activity is perfect for exploring different textures and practicing fine motor skills.

How to play with these sensory recipes:

Each of these sensory recipes offers unique benefits and learning opportunities. Here are some ways to extend the play and learning:

  • Encourage imaginative play by creating themed sensory bins or activities.

  • Integrate educational concepts such as counting, color identification, and science experiments.

  • Foster language development by talking about textures, actions, and sensations during play.

  • Practice fine motor skills through scooping, pouring, kneading, and molding.

  • Use these activities as calming tools to help children relax and focus.

Remember, the key to these sensory recipes is not just in the making but in the interactive play that follows. Each activity can be adapted to suit your child's interests and developmental stage, making them versatile tools in early childhood education.



bottom of page