Our early education has been proven key to individual development over and over again. It is vital to find a variety of ways to stimulate young children’s imaginations, as well as traditional methods of education.

Sensory play is one way that pre-school children can develop their minds and encourage skills that will prepare them for a brighter future, from improving dexterity to hand-eye coordination. Companies such as Hope Education offer schools a wide range of toys for sensory play, to give children the best possible start on their educational journey.

Here are 25 resources for kids that can have this effect, designed for a pre-school audience that can largely be made in your own home and played with under supervision:

  • Playdough: Beginning with the basics, playdough allows a child to develop their imagination and creative intuition.
  • Slime: Kids have a natural curiosity and this often ends up getting messy. Using a mix of soap flakes and food colouring it is possible to create a wild soapy-slimy adventure for children to indulge in.
  • Rainbow rice bags: if you’re sick of the mess – such as the slime then colouring rice brightly and filling ziplocked bags with it, is an excellent way to create a sensory play environment with none of the hassle of cleaning up.
  • Dry pasta: dried pasta is a sensory experience that may seem mundane to an adult, but a child’s curiosity is much greater and this will occupy a child for a long time; especially considering the shapes and sizes possible.
  • Cooked spaghetti: moving on from the dried pasta, cooked spaghetti can also prove to be excellent sensory entertainment for a pre-school child.
  • Bubbles: bubbles are fascinating to kids, long after their pre-school; a fun way of stimulating a child’s mind.
  • Tissue paper: the colours and texture of tissue paper can prove tremendous sensory fun.
  • Ice cubes: the feelings surrounding ice will be entirely new to a child and a new experience for them.
  • Ice world: keeping within the ice framework, creating an ice world complete with plastic creatures is a fantastic way to catalyse a child’s imagination and is much easier than you may expect.
  • Sand: sand can be utilised to great effect, especially in the form of a sand-box that has educational toys in. It’s a desert for young pre-school kids to explore!
  • Jelly: playing with jelly is one of the most intriguing experiences for a pre-school child, especially when it’s edible too.
  • Baby food: the above applies to baby food too. Its texture and the fact it can be eaten, is something that will be highly entertaining to a child.
  • Buttons: coloured buttons allow children to be stimulated and learn logic by matching the same colours together.
  • Alphabet: hide letters in coloured rice and let a child explore to find them. Rarely is ‘learn while you play’ more applicable.
  • Create instruments: creating instruments using rice and a bottle can be an excellent way to begin a child’s musical education, and the experience of sound will be another sensory aspect that can be stimulated, especially when the child creating it.
  • Scented rice: create new smells for a child to appreciate, broadening their nasal horizons.
  • Fabrics: using fabrics can be an excellent way to stimulate a pre-school child’s perceptions of touch.
  • Mats: a 2D map of a town is an excellent way to allow a child to develop their imagination, especially where they have a toy car to play with too.
  • Basic jigsaws: this works with a logical development. A child can learn where things fit, and learn from mistakes made too.
  • Shapes: a child can begin a long journey in geometry by fitting shapes through appropriately sized holes.
  • Noise association: the most famous example of this is done through farmyard animals, where a child learns to associate a sound with the relevant animal.
  • Construction: using the child’s desire to create with basic building blocks.
  • Collages: allow a child to use different materials to create a sensory collage, complete with multiple fabrics and colours.
  • Blindfolding sensory appreciation: it is easy to turn sensory play into a game by blindfolding a child and allowing them to touch things, such as the previously mentioned cooked spaghetti and dry pasta.
  • Water balloons: water balloons are an excellent way to make bath-time more fun.

Possibly, the greatest aspect to sensory play, is that it facilitates the kind of learning that is necessary for problem solving. This will have a tremendous impact on children in their early years and will help them develop in more ways than can be listed, from mathematics to grammar.