Sensory Play at Home

Guest Authored By Natalia A, OTD, OTR/L

Blue Bird Day and sensory skills

Sensory play frequently referred to as ‘messy play’, is a great way to keep your children entertained, all while stimulating their sensory system! It can include activities such as shaving cream, slime, play-dough, sand, bubbles, and so much more. While it can seem that sensory play is only targeting our touch receptors, it has the potential to awaken so many of our senses. For example, when your children are playing with a large bowl of slime, they are experiencing:  

1) The touch of the slime on their fingers and hands (tactile system… check!)  

2) The smell of the glue in the slime and any additional fragrances you choose to add (olfactory system… check!)  

3) The sound of the slime being stretched apart and back together in all directions (auditory system… check!)  

4) The bright colors and glitter of your slime (visual system…. check!)  

Best news of all? Sensory play experiences can be created with typical household items or items easily found at the store or on Amazon. Things will get messy, but they will also bring so much fun and engagement from your children. Let’s break down our favorite messy play recipes below:  

Basic Slime  

Materials:  

  • 1 cup of white glue 
  • 1 cup of water 
  • cup of liquid starch (Purex Sta-Flo is our favorite) 
  • Food coloring of your choice (optional)  
  • 1 large bowl & mixing spoon  

In your large bowl, mix together the white glue and water until the consistency is even throughout. Next, if you want to add some color to your slime, add 3-4 drops of your chosen color. Be very careful with how much food coloring you add, as it will stain your hands while playing with the slime if too much is added. Slowly begin to add your cup of liquid starch while mixing all the ingredients with your spoon. It may take a couple of minutes of you mixing with the spoon (and your hands) to get the consistency just right!  

Recipe hack: If you do not have liquid starch at home, but do have regular corn starch, try the following modification. 

  • Boil 1 cup of water on the stovetop  
  • In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of corn starch with some warm faucet water. You only want enough water to dissolve the corn starch so you see no clumps 
  • Once the water is boiling, remove from the stovetop and add your corn starch mixture created above– mix, mix, mix.  
  • Place the pan back on the stovetop (medium-low heat) and mix until you see the consistency thicken.  

 Shaving Cream Slime 

Materials:  

  • ½ cup of white glue 
  • 3 cups of foaming shaving cream 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 tablespoon contact solution (must have boric acid as an ingredient)  
  • Food coloring of your choice (optional)  
  • 1 large bowl & mixing spoon 

In your large bowl, add together the white glue, shaving cream, and baking soda until thoroughly mixed to an even consistencyNext, if you want to add some color to your slime, add 3-4 drops of your chosen color. Be very careful with how much food coloring you add, as it will stain your hands while playing with the slime if too much is added. Finally, spread your contact solution all over your mixture and MIX! Shaving cream slime has a much ‘fluffier’ feel as compared to your typical slime.  

Moon Sand (Moldable Sand) 

Materials:  

  • 2 cups of play sand  
  • 1 cup of cornstarch  
  • ½ cup of water  
  • 1 large baking sheet or bowl to mix materials  

In your large bowl or baking sheet, mix your play sand and cornstarch together. Once they are thoroughly mixed, add your water to the mixture. It may be hard at first but keep using that water to get the mixture to an even consistency and one that is moldable. Feel free to play around with adding more water to get the mixture to what you are looking for, but be sure to go slowly! You can always add more water but you cannot take the water away.  

 Cloud Dough 

Materials:  

  • 2 cups of cornstarch  
  • 1 cup of baby lotion 
  • Food coloring of your choice (optional) 
  • 1 large bowl & mixing spoon  

 In your large bowl, mix your baby lotion and cornstarch together. Once they are thoroughly mixed, add 3-4 drops of food coloring and mix throughout. Be very careful with how much food coloring you add, as it will stain your hands while playing with the cloud dough if too much is added 

 These are just a few of our favorite and most used recipes here at Blue Bird Day. After all, what is one of the best parts about sensory play? Creativity is encouraged! Feel free to modify ingredients, add different colors/glitter, or even make up your own recipes. It is a great way to think outside the box, get messy, and work together with your children.

Enjoy!