Whether you’ve been following me for a little while or a long while, you’ll know that I love all things sensory play! My belief is that sensory play is really the foundation for lifelong learning. It sets the scene for so many mathematical and scientific investigations and understandings! But above all of the developmental benefits of sensory play, it’s an amazing way to create beautiful memories of childhood and play with your little learners.

Today I’m sharing some of my favourite sensory play gift ideas for your kids! These items are perfect for birthday party gift ideas for kindy and school friends; to put together in a kit for your child’s birthday or Christmas present; or even just to put together a sensory play kit for your own home!

Water Marbles

Where to buy: Mess It Up (code CASEY15 for 15% off storewide) | The Creative Toy Shop* | Little Toy Tribe | Amazon US*

I hesitated with water beads for such a long time but my goodness are they a lot of fun! We’ve used them for all kinds of play – from bases for small worlds, to freezing them for Summer play and even just playing with them as is! Just add water and the beads will grow in size providing hours of play! When we’re finished, we pop them in an airtight container and use them again another day.

An important note though, these water beads are a choking hazard (and can be very harmful if swallowed especially when they aren’t yet expanded!) so I would consider your own children and decide whether they are suitable for your unique family.

Sensory Rice

Where to buy: Happimess | Etsy – USA* | The Creative Toy Shop*

I’ve not met many children who don’t love to scoop and pour! As they fill empty containers, they’re exploring early concepts of measurement and capacity – they’re learning while they play. Whether it’s pouring from cup to cup or from spoon to bowl in a sensory tub, sensory tubs filled with rainbow rice is wonderful for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination!

We often make our own sensory rice but there are so many incredible small businesses who create sensory rice and other bases that are ready to enjoy too.

Sensory Play Book

Where to buy: Click here to find a bunch of our stockists!

I love sensory play so much that I wrote a book all about it! It’s sold over 5000 copies worldwide and has been wildly popular with parents and educators alike. Inside my Sensory Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers book, you’ll find 40+ easy sensory play tubs and activities with bonus ideas for extending each activity even further!

Not only will your child be learning and exploring through play, but you’ll also be creating some magical memories of playtime that will last a lifetime! When I created the book, I envisioned your child sitting on your lap as you turned through the pages together, choosing an activity to enjoy with one another to connect and play!

Sorting Bowls

Where to buy: The Creative Toy Shop* | Wooden Waggon (US) | Amazon US* | Amazon AUS* | Little Toy Tribe

Spoons and bowls = sensory play heaven! Your options are only limited by your imagination. Use with rice, chickpeas, sand… sooo many options for scooping and pouring. You can find great little measuring cups and spoons are your local dollar shop and even little bamboo bowls from the kitchen aisle at places like Kmart, Target and IKEA!

If you’re looking for some variety, there are many small businesses that stock a wide range of sorting bowls perfect for your next sensory tub. Below are the Grimms Stacking Bowls* which we use often!

Magic Sand

Where to buy: The Creative Toy Shop* | Officeworks | Amazon US* | Amazon US – Cotton Sand*

Magic sand or kinetic sand is a popular sensory base in our home! It can be squeezed, pinched and moulded with sandpit toys making it a really fun and simple sensory play experience!

We also recently discovered Cotton Sand* which is a mix between kinetic sand and slime in that it can be stretched! It’s really something else and is so much fun to explore and play with!

Jumbo Tweezers

Where to buy: The Creative Toy Shop* | Amazon US* | Officeworks

Tweezers are a fantastic tool for fine motor skill development. We love these jumbo tweezers and use them for all kinds of fine motor activities. A great invitation is to add some plastic insect figurines from the dollar shop or Kmart, and invite your little one to ‘catch’ the insects with the tweezers!

Looking for more sensory play gift ideas?

If you would like even more sensory play gift ideas for your little learners, our FREE Gift Guide is full of incredible toys and ideas perfect for Christmas gifts, birthday present ideas and special occasions. I’ve sorted the ideas by different categories including baby play, sensory play, imaginative play, outdoor play and more! You can download our FREE Gift Guide here!

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). All of the products I link to are things we have personally used and loved!

About the author

Casey is an early years teacher turned homeschooling mum of three who passionate about helping other parents create a play-filled home. She loves adventure days outside in nature and loves a good sensory tub. You can follow Casey on Instagram right here.

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