Homemade Sensory Activities For Preschoolers

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Young children love being able to make their own things. This lesson offers activities that will allow your students to make their own sensory play items.

Preschoolers Making Products

Encouraging young children to make their own sensory toys is amazing. Not only does the child get an internal sense of pride from completing a project, but that same project can be used on a regular basis for fun and relaxation. Making something to use is definitely a way to build confidence in the youngest of students.

All of the sensory activities included in this lesson will result in physical products that your students can take home and continue to use as they wish. You may choose to keep them in the classroom for sensory play throughout the term.

Some of the activities will require you to prepare the first portion ahead of time due to possible risks to children (such as hot water). Other activities can be completed by the students with little to no supervision.

Independent Assembly

These activities can be completed mostly independently, but may need some supervision.

Glitter Bottle

  • Materials: plastic drink bottle, water, glitter options, food coloring options, duct tape

Ask parents to send in a clean plastic drink bottle with each student (make sure all labeling is removed). Ask students to carefully fill their bottles with water almost all the way to the top. Allow students to choose which color glitter and food coloring they would like. The bottle will need about two or three teaspoons of glitter and just one drop of food coloring (supervision may be required to add these items to the bottle). After tightly screwing the lid back on the bottle, use duct tape to secure the lid to the bottle.

Students can shake the bottle and enjoy watching the glitter flutter as it settles down to the bottom. In fact, these can be used as cool down tools when a student is over-stimulated. They take the bottle into a quiet space, shake it, and wait quietly until all the glitter has settled before returning to the full activity of the class.

Sensory Board

  • Materials: glue, half a piece of poster paper for each student and square pieces of material of many different textures of material including, but not limited to: sandpaper, velvet, silk, homemade paper, corduroy, bubble wrap, and ridged card

Give each student the poster paper. Place all the textured squares on an easy access table. Allow students to choose 5-10 pieces of material and glue them onto their poster board to create their own sensory board full of textures to which each child is personally drawn.

Lava Lamp

  • Materials: vegetable oil, water, food coloring, Alka-Seltzer tablets

Ask parents to send in clean water bottles. Help student fill a quarter of the bottle with water. Color the water with food coloring. Fill the rest of the bottle (to about half an inch from the top) with oil. Do this carefully. Let the oil and water settle (point out how the oil floats on top of the water to include a bit of science in this activity). When the solution has settled, add a quarter of a tablet of Alka-Seltzer to each bottle. This final step should be done by an adult. The students will be mesmerized by the colored bubbles created by the Alka-Seltzer.

When the solution is saturated with Alka-Seltzer and no longer bubbles, just add a small toy boat or another floating object to the bottle, seal it shut with duct tape, and turn it on its side to allow students to explore the smooth waves of water ripples as they rock the bottle back and forth.

Some Pre-Assembly Required

These activities require a bit more pre-assembly than the other activities but still have steps for your students to complete. If you add a drop or two of an essential oil to any of these activities, you will create olfactory stimulation to go along with the visual and tactile sensory excitation in the activity.

You may also consider asking parents to supply small containers in which students can take home their creations.

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