9 Sensory Toys to Develop Sensory Learning Skills

From the time they are born children use sensory play to learn about the world around them. From the beginning of their lives, children want to see, hear, touch, smell and taste everything they encounter. The search for sensory input is the reason you spend so much of a child’s first year pulling things out of their mouths. Playing with sensory toys helps promote learning through the senses. Sensory learning helps children develop both fine and gross motor skills, language skills, creativity and to refine the use of their senses for learning in all areas of their lives.

Top Sensory Toys for Kids

Step2 Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table
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Educational Insights Playfoam Combo
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Hedstrom Sensory Shapes
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Tangle Jr.
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1. Step2 Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table

Step2-sand-and-water-tableStep2 Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table offers two great sensory toy experiences at once. The table has two distinct sides. One side holds 10 pounds of sand for playing, digging and molding shapes or castles. The second side is for water. Kids can add a variety of water toys to squeeze, soak up or float on the water. The table features a drain plug for easy cleanup. A hard plastic lid with tie downs will keep the sand dry and protected for longer use. Children can enjoy hours of creative play on either or both sides of this table. This has long been one of the most popular toys at my house each summer.

Ages: 18 months–5 years

2. Educational Insights Playfoam Combo

educational-insights-playfoam-comboEducational Insights Playfoam Combo is a tactile treat for little fingers that offers limitless ways to express their creativity. Playfoam can be squished, handled and molded into a variety of fun shapes, creatures and objects. The unique no-dry-out formula means this long lasting product can be used over and over and again. Playfoam is also non-stick and is easy to clean up and off of whatever area is used for creative fun. Playfoam is a great way to promote creative sensory toy play.

Ages: 3+

3. Kinetic Sand


Kinetic sand is a fun, shapeable, packable sand kids can play with for hours. The sand sticks to itself making for easy shaping and molding. Kinetic sand is a textural delight to kids and inspires hours of creative play. It is available in a variety of colors and accessory sets. My children have spent many hours digging for dinosaur bones and building sand castles with their Kinetic Sand. It’s a great way to enjoy the sensory pleasure of sand indoors without a hard to clean up mess.

Ages: 3+

4. Hedstrom Sensory Shapes


Hedstrom Sensory Shapes includes toys in a variety of shapes and colors. The toys are appealing to infants and young children. The knobby feel provides stimulation to hands and fingers during play. Touching and playing with these toys helps refine and develop both fine and gross motor skills. I’ve had the Hedstrom Sensory Shapes Toys for over four years. My four year old still plays with the balls and my one year old enjoys handling and chewing on the BPA free material while exploring all the different shapes; these sensory toys are really durable and fun.

Ages: 6 months +

5. Tangle Jr.


Tangle Jr., as the name implies, is the children’s version of a popular adult stress relieving toy. This twisty toy is a great calming activity for fidgety hands. It also comes in hairy or fuzzy versions for added sensory stimulation. Tangle Jr. comes in bright colors your child can mix and match as they disconnect and reconnect the pieces. It’s a great way for busy hands to pass the time when they need to stay quiet or still. This toy encourages creativity and problem solving while also providing hours of entertainment.

Ages: 3 months +

6. Play-Doh


Play-Doh has been a favorite sensory toy for generations of kids. I have wonderful memories of squeezing, modeling and rolling out Play-Doh as a child and now I enjoy watching my own kids get creative with it. My daughter molds Play-Doh into dinosaurs and volcanoes, while my niece prefers to rolls it out into a pretend pie dough. The squishy between-your-fingers sensation is perfect sensory fun while kids create unique doughy wonders!

Ages: 24 months +

7. Edushape Easy-grip Soft Foam Sensory Puzzle Blocks


Edushape Easy-grip Soft Foam Sensory Puzzle Blocks are nubby blocks perfectly designed to be gripped by little hands. The nubby texture provides sensory stimulation and promotes the development of fine and gross motor skills as the blocks are handled and stacked. The bright colors are attractive and fun, inspiring creative builds of all sizes. These blocks are incredibly fun and durable for years of imaginative sensory play.

Ages: 3+

8. Kangaroo’s Original Super Cool Slime


Kangaroo’s Original Super Cool Slime has a name that says it all. This stuff is super cool. The slime feels like a solid but moves like a liquid. Kids will love the slippery, slimy feel. Parents will love the fact that this slime is easy to clean up. The slime has a wet and gooey feel that little fingers will love to touch and squeeze during play. It’s a sensory sensation unique to this product and good for hours of fun.

Ages: 5+

9. Abilitations Dynamic Movement Body Sox


Abilitations Dynamic Movement Body Sox is a Lycra-Spandex sack kids will love to move in. This unique toy helps teach spatial awareness, balance and creative movement. This unique product is great for little ones who crave constant movement and physical sensation. It is a wonderful tool for kids who need help getting the wiggles out of their bodies learning to self-calm. My very active daughter, who craves constant movement, loves moving and playing in this body costume. Many kids can benefit from this unique sensory experience.

Ages: 2+

Do your kids play with any sensory toys that we don’t have on our list? Let us know in the comments below!


Feature image courtesy of Flickr, CrystalSanchez.

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