Sensory Play: 6 DIY Sensory Bases for Kids (with Recipes and Fun Ideas)

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As parents, we all know how important it is to keep our little ones entertained, engaged, and learning through play. One fantastic way to achieve this is by incorporating sensory play into your child’s daily routine. Sensory play not only stimulates your child’s senses but also promotes cognitive, social, and emotional development. It’s a win-win situation!

In this week’s blog post, I’m going to share with you six fantastic sensory bases that will not only provide hours of entertainment but are also super easy to make.

So, roll up your sleeves and get ready for some messy, marvellous, and magical playtime! But don’t worry, we’ll make it easy to clean up too.

What is Sensory Play?

Before we dive into the fun world of sensory bases, let’s take a quick look at what sensory play is and why it’s beneficial for your child.

Sensory play involves activities that engage your child’s senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. 

It encourages them to explore and interact with different materials and textures, fostering their cognitive and physical development.

Here are some of the key benefits of sensory play:

  1. Cognitive Development: Sensory play helps children learn about cause and effect, patterns, and concepts like volume, texture, and temperature.

  2. Fine and Gross Motor Skills: Manipulating different materials, whether squishing, pouring, or shaping, helps develop your child’s hand-eye coordination and muscle control.

  3. Language Skills: Sensory play encourages children to describe their experiences, which can enhance their vocabulary and communication skills.

  4. Social and Emotional Skills: Sharing sensory play experiences with others can improve your child’s ability to cooperate and engage in positive social interactions.

  5. Problem Solving: Experimenting with sensory materials can help children learn to solve problems and think creatively.

Now, without further ado, let’s explore six delightful sensory bases and discover how to create them along with some exciting play ideas!

1. Oobleck


  • 2 cups of corn flour (also known as cornstarch)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food colouring (optional)

How to Make Oobleck:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the corn flour (or cornstarch).
  2. Gradually add the water, stirring as you go.
  3. If desired, mix in a few drops of food colouring to create a vibrant oobleck.

Play Ideas:

  • Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid, which means it behaves like a liquid and a solid simultaneously. Have your child squeeze it in their hand, watch it ooze through their fingers, and even try to punch it like a solid!
  • Place small toys or objects in the oobleck and encourage your child to search for them.
  • Experiment with different textures, such as adding sand or rice to create a unique oobleck experience.
  • Oobleck is a great sensory base to hide things in. For example, you could bury some dinoaur figures in oobleck and use our Little Learning Hub dinosaur board to match each dinosaur to it’s correct name. 

2. Scented Play Sand


  • 8 cups of play sand
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil
  • Essential oils (e.g., lavender, citrus, or mint) for a delightful scent (optional)

How to Make Scented Play Sand:

  1. In a large container, combine the play sand and baby oil.
  2. Mix until the sand is evenly coated with the oil.
  3. If you desire a scented play sand, add a few drops of your chosen essential oil and mix thoroughly.

Play Ideas:

  • Build sandcastles, mountains, or sculpt various shapes with the scented play sand.
  • Introduce small toys like plastic shovels, buckets, and moulds for imaginative beach-themed play.
  • Use the sensory sand as a canvas for creating textured art or patterns with hands or small tools.
  • Hide pairs of cards in the sand (such as our Little Learning Hub three part cards) and match them up. 

3. Rainbow Rice


  • White rice
  • Food colouring

How to Make Rainbow Rice:

  1. Place portions of rice in separate food or ziploc bags.
  2. Add a few drops of food colouring to each bag.
  3. Seal the bags and shake until the rice is evenly coloured.
  4. Spread the rice on a baking sheet to dry. 

Play Ideas:

  • Offer various containers, scoops, and funnels for your child to pour the coloured rice into.
  • Hide small toys or objects within the rice for a treasure hunt. There are a ton of scavenger hunt resources available in The Little Learning Hub!
  • Use rainbow rice to create colourful sensory art, like filling clear bottles with layers of coloured rice.

4. Cloud Dough


  • 2 cups of corn flour (also known as corn starch) 
  • 1 cup of lotion
  • Food colouring (optional)

How to Make Cloud Dough:

  1. In a large container, combine the corn flour and lotion. 
  2. Mix thoroughly until it reaches a smooth dough. 
  3. Add food colouring if you want to make it more vibrant.

Play Ideas:

  • Introduce small construction toys, like bulldozers and trucks, for imaginative play.
  • Let your child’s hands guide them to create various textures and patterns in the dough. 
  • Cook out cookie shapes to make your own DIY cafe. 



  • 1 bottle (4-5 ounces) of white school glue
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (known as baking soda in the US)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of contact lens solution
  • Food colouring (optional)

How to Make Slime:

  1. In a bowl, mix the glue and water.
  2. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Add a few drops of food colouring for the desired hue.
  4. Gradually incorporate the contact lens solution while stirring until the slime begins to form.
  5. Knead the slime until it’s no longer sticky.

Play Ideas:

  • Stretch, squish, and mould the slime to strengthen hand muscles.
  • Experiment with slime consistency by adding more or less contact lens solution.
  • Use slime to make fun shapes, figures, or even slime bubbles.

Sensory Bottles


  • Clear plastic bottles with caps
  • Various small objects and materials (e.g., beads, glitter, buttons, sequins, water, oil, rice, or sand)

How to Make Sensory Bottles:

  1. Select a clear plastic bottle.
  2. Fill it with a combination of objects and materials, creating different visual and auditory effects.
  3. Securely seal the cap to prevent spills. You should use child safe glue or secure tape.

Play Ideas:

  • Create a “rainstick” bottle by combining rice, beans, and small beads to simulate the sound of falling rain when shaken.
  • Make a “glitter galaxy” bottle with water, glitter, and small sequins for a mesmerizing visual experience.
  • Craft a “discovery” bottle by adding small toys or objects that your child can search for and discuss.
Note: You must be very VERY careful with sensory bottles and check them regularly to ensure there are no gaps or leaks. 

Tips for Sensory Play:

  • Supervise Play: Always keep an eye on your child during sensory play to ensure their safety.
  • Set Up a Play Space: Designate an area for sensory play to minimize mess and make clean up easier. You could put a towel or sheet on the floor underneath to collect most of the spills or if the weather is decent, head outside. 
  • Use Age-Appropriate Materials: Select materials and activities suitable for your child’s age and development stage.
  • Engage Together: Sensory play is more fun when you participate too! Join your child in exploring and experimenting with the materials.

In conclusion, sensory play is a fantastic way to promote your child’s development while having tons of fun together. These six DIY sensory bases are easy to create and provide endless opportunities for creativity, learning, and exploration. So, why wait? Gather your supplies and embark on a sensory adventure with your child today!

Remember, the mess can always be cleaned up, but the memories and learning experiences your child gains from sensory play will last a lifetime. Enjoy this special bonding time and watch your child’s imagination and development flourish through these simple, yet sensational, play activities. 

Happy playing!

Looking for more recipe ideas?

In The Little Learning Hub, members have access to a bunch more sensory play recipes including how to make fake snow, crystals, plus my foolproof playdough recipe (with a taste safe version for younger children!)

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