ARTventurers Tyne Valley – TOP 10 Sensory Play Ideas!

ARTventurers Tyne Valley – TOP 10 Sensory Play Ideas!

At ARTventurers we LOVE ART!! Simply that.  From painting, to moulding, to crafting to making, sticking, mixing, cutting, folding, stamping…ok, basically anything that can inspire a young mind to be creative!  We want to give children the basic building blocks to define their individuality and to help express themselves to others around them.  Part of our obsession for art also includes the same love for sensory play, studies have shown this to be one of the most important factors in every child’s early development.  From the day we are born, babies and young children use their senses to explore the world around them, learning and developing though touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.  At an ARTventurers class we therefore understand the importance of creating an environment that allows children to do all of the above, whilst having tonnes of fun at the same time!

Our classes are themed so that no two weeks are ever the same.  Our sensory play uses a mix of tuff trays, water pools and different painting surfaces to stimulate even the tiniest of minds. What’s a Tuff Tray I hear you ask? Well essentially it is an octagonal plastic tray originally used in the building industry to mix concrete! But to us here at ARTventurers it is so much more than that.  Our Tuff Trays are a blank canvas, a tool for us to ignite your little ones curiosity and imagination, to provide a safe environment for them to explore, learn and most importantly have fun!

During those early years there is no denying that the process of learning through sensory play can get a little messy!! But as I always say in class ‘it doesn’t matter’, after all we clear up all the mess! The added bonus is the photos are fantastic, OK some of them are just plain hilarious! And if you attend a class it’s safe to say I will provide you with plenty of those all embarrassing 18th birthday party pictures for you to wheel out in years to come. Imagine your Facebook time hop in 15 years from now! You will be reminiscing about the time you came to a fab ARTventurers (did I mention we are now award winning? Franchise of the Year 2017!) class with your little one, where you had so much fun, laughed, sang, danced, made friends and got to take home lots of keepsakes that you still own and have kept safe many years later.

So with all of that in mind I thought I would put together our Top 10 sensory play ideas! There are many, many different materials that can be used for sensory play, far too many to mention them all, but listed below are just a few of my personal favourites here at ARTventurers Tyne Valley!


Spaghetti is a great activity to work on those all important fine motor skills.  Improving concentration as tiny fingers try their best to pick up an individual strand, lifting, pulling and stretching the pasta from the tray!  Coloured with different food dyes it can make an eye catching arrangement for little ones to go and explore!


Rice could entertain a room full of children for hours on end, they all LOVE it! Using scoops, shovels, sifts and funnels, you can pour it, rake it, bury toys in it or simply enjoy running your hands thru the individual grains time after time! Perhaps the ultimate sensory material for improving hand eye coordination and fine and gross motor skills!


Jelly is always the sensory activity that our little ones love the most, after all it tastes so yummy!!  The touch of it is unlike anything they have usually come across before so it makes for great viewing as they investigate what it is!  Cold, wet, slippery, slimy, smooth but smells so lovely too?  Great to squish, squidge, splodge and splash!!  A ‘sensory sensation’ all in one tray!


Perfect for ‘scooping and pouring’ (one our favourite skills at ARTventurers!) and working on hand eye co-ordination transferring the oats into different pots and pans or trying to catch them as they pour out!


Very similar to the oats in terms of play, perfect for filling and pouring into bowls, mixing with spoons and with the added benefit that it tastes good too!


A fab silky texture which is great to ‘squish and squeeze’ for even the youngest of hands.  It also has enough body to form and create fun shapes but then falls apart for little ones to mould into something new!  Perfect for sparking imaginative play!


Great for early mark making and letter writing by running fingers through the flour to create shapes, it can then be flattened out to start all over again!


So much fun and loved by our smallest babies, to toddlers and even our adults too!! A foam party in a tray! Everyone just loves a ‘foamy fro’ or a Father Christmas beard, it can be moulded into snowballs or squished between our fingers and toes!  I could do foam every week in class and we would never get bored of it!!


Feels so silky and slimy yet smells amazing too!!  Perfect for hiding toys within, mark making and pouring backwards and forwards into different containers, always trying to improve our hand/ eye coordination!  Lovely to see the younger babies trying to pick up handfuls and then watching as it trickles out thru their little hands!  Always a firm favourite in class!


This is one of my personal favourites!! I have very fond memories from when I was younger, being in the kitchen with my mum and older sister making homemade play dough together!!  Nothing beats the smell of it freshly made and still warm from the pan.  Great as a workout for little fingers, building up strength in all their tiny hand muscles and tendons, preparing little ones for pencil and scissor control later on.  Good also as an introduction to colour mixing, red and yellow rolled together makes…! Easy to add different scents too such as mint, cinnamon, lemon, rose or lavender!  And you can allow the children to mix in different textures too such as lentils or oats!!  An open ended story, play dough allows for the imagination to run wild and create whatever our little artists may desire!