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10 Easy Mess Free Sensory Activities for Toddlers

My kids absolutely love messy play and it can be a lot of fun. It gives them freedom to get their hands on anything glittery, sticky and covered in glue. Let’s be honest though, what we don’t love is the actual mess that comes with messy play.

Sometimes we don’t have the time or space for these activities which often lead to play dough being trodden into the carpet or shaving foam covering the table.

I wholeheartedly advocate sensory play but don’t always want the massive clean-up afterwards, so here are some quick and mess free tactile play ideas which will aid your child’s sensory and motor development.

Treasure Basket

Treasure baskets for babies and toddlers

These are really easy to set up and can be created using random objects around the house. From pine cones to nail brushes, treasure baskets are a wonderfully adaptable depending on the age and interests of your child.

Spiders Web Sensory Basket

sensory activity spiders-web-discovery-basket thetraindriverswife

I love this idea from The Train Drivers Wife. All you need is a laundry basket and some wool and thread it tightly in a pattern to create a spider’s web. Then hide toys within for your toddler to rescue.

Non-Messy Paint Mixing

sensory activities non messy paint adventuresandplay

Place paper and paint into a zip-lock bag and sellotape it up. Then your little one can create patterns and pictures using their fingers.

Calm Down Sensory Bottles

sensory activities Calm-Down-Sensory-Bottles-rhythms of play

This doubles up as a sensory calm-down and a science lesson. Rhythms of Play is the master of making sensory play bottles. They help children learn how to regulate their emotions and help calm them down. They can even be used for adults too when we are feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious.

Magnet Sensory Bin

sensory activities mamasmiles magnetic sensory bin

This idea from Mamasmiles is a wonderful way to help develop your child’s fine motor skills. Use a large container and fill with black beans, then hide magnetic discs within it for your child to discover with their magnet.

Sandpaper Art

sensory activities Sandpaper Art BuggyandBuddy

Why draw on paper when you can use sandpaper instead? Allow your child to get artistic with the crayons to create a rustic looking picture.

Button Sorting Cups

sensory activities 1-Button-Sorting-Cups

These button sorting cups from About Family Crafts are perfect for colour recognition and fine motor skills. My kids love posting things so this will keep them amused for a while.

Homemade Guitar

sensory activities House of burke guitar

This idea from House of Burke can be made in minutes and all you need is a bread pan and elastic rubber bands to create a little guitar.

Felt Flower Crafts

sensory activities felt-flowers living life and learning

Ahh I remember playing with felt for hours when I was little. It’s pretty easy to recreate now and you can create any shapes or patterns you like – how about this felt flowers idea from Living Life and Learning

Pasta Trees and Animals

This is one we return to time and time again. Stick some uncooked spaghetti into some play dough and then have your child thread Cheerios and penne pasta on top. You can even make little play dough and pasta hedgehogs.


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Freelance writer and founder of CubKit and McCarthy Copywriting


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