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Sensory Play Ideas

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Sensory play also referred to as ‘messy’ play, is play that stimulates the senses of touch, sight, smell, sound, taste, as well as balance and movement.

The developmental benefits of learning through sensory play are outstanding. Learn more about that HERE. In sensory play your little ones begin to discover and make sense of the world on through play.

You might think you need a fancy tuff tray to try sensory play at home but you can use anything! Another popular option is the Flisat table from Ikea, you could use an oven tray, under bed storage container, even just some tuppaware containers. It doesn’t need to be big and fancy! You can sensory play in the sink, in the bath, whatever works for you and your family.


Here I’ve got for you 4 different, taste safe recipes for sensory play that I can almost guarantee you most likely already have all the ingredients for in your kitchen cupboard!

Most people would have some flour and oil in their cupboard! Tah-dah Moon Sand. Moon sand/cloud dough/moon dough has the most beautiful feel! It is crumbly like sand yet can also mould like a playdough. It can be used in a variety of ways.


8 cups of flour

1 cup of oil

Mix the two together until you have reached your desired consistency. Add more oil if its too dry or more flour if too wet. You can add cocoa to make hot chocolate moon sand (our favourite), or food colouring for coloured moon sand (mix colouring with a small amount of water and work into the flour with your hands before adding the oil.)


A scientific favourite is always Oobleck. Corn flour and water! The most amazing mixture has properties of both a liquid and solid at the same time. If you slowly dip your hand into it, it behaves like a liquid, where as if you squeeze it in your hand or punch it, it’s a solid! The kids will love it!

Here we made our rainbow version!


2 cups of cornflour (also called corn starch)

1 cup of water

Mix together, feel as it gets harder and harder to stir!

TIP: If you would like to colour your oobleck, add food colouring to the water first before mixing in, it will be much easier to disperse the colour!


If you’ve been following me on social media you will know that I love Rainbow rice. It looks so inviting and kids will be kept entertained for ages as they scoop and pour and fill and empty and use the rice in ways us adults have not yet imagined! Rainbow rice is super quick and easy to make and if you're afraid of wet mess, can be a fantastic option!


1 cup of uncooked rice per colour

½ tsp of white vinegar per colour

A splash of food colouring

Combine ingredients (a zip lock bag is perfect for mixing in) Leave to dry for an hour or so (not essential but you may end up with some dye on your hands.)

For rainbow rice I’ll usually do 6 colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)


Am I right in saying that almost every child likes pasta!! Coloured pasta is so much fun and instead of saying “don’t play with your food” we can give this a big “YES!” Give your child some kitchen utensils, tongs especially to work on their hand muscles and off they go.


Any type of pasta of your desired quantity (1 packet will normally be heaps for at home play)

Food colouring

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water until just undercooked. Drain and allow to cool before mixing through your food colouring. Easiest to do with your hands however gloves would definitely be advised! Or again zip lock bags can be very helpful for mixing in.


Give these a go at home! I would love to see your creations. All recipes can be made using their gluten free alternatives too!

The developmental benefits of messy/sensory play for our little ones are mind blowing! Of course the worst bit about sensory play is by far the cleaning up and that is why Made to be Messy is here to help you out if it all just seems too much!

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