Sensory toys are all the rage these days on Pinterest and elsewhere on the internet. E had his first exposure to sensory toys at a great play date we went to a few months back. The group leader had all different kinds of sensory stations set up, including a bucket of corn starch (E’s favorite), a bubble machine, homemade finger paints, sensory boards, and marshmallow goo. Our little guy had so much fun at that play date that I decided to come home and make a bunch of sensory toys that he could enjoy any time.
I started with the idea of this sensory box, which was inspired by the sensory board at the play date. I liked the idea of putting the sensory activity into a small, portable object that we could bring with us when we are out at a restaurant, etc. I happened to have an empty craft cigar box lying around in one of my craft supply closets and it worked perfectly. I stayed up late one night looking through all of my craft closets for things to glue in the box. I was so excited to give the box to E the next morning, and was so happy when he loved it. :) It was really easy to make…just scraps of fabric and paper with varying textures and miscellaneous items I had in my craft drawers. I used super glue to hold everything in place.
Next I made him a shaker that he loves using an empty tea tin, some coins and some medical tape. It’s not cute but he loves it! It is shown below in a basket with some more of his sensory toys. In his sensory basket, there are also some rubber sensory balls, a Kush ball, and the sensory bottles that I made.
As I noticed that E was playing quietly and independently in his bedroom, I thought that would be the perfect time to finally photograph all of his sensory toys (this is something I have been meaning to do for months). As soon as he heard his sensory bottles shaking and making noise as I lined them all up for a photo, he came crawling around the corner so fast that he ended up in my photo. :)
From left to right, the bottles include:
1. Sequins and water (the sequins turned the water pink)
2. Water with green food coloring, body oil and miscellaneous beads and charms. This was a big Pinterest fail…I do not like how the body oil turned so cloudy. It may stay clear with some brands of body oil, but this is how it ended up looking with Avon Skin So Soft. E loves it though so I guess that is all that matters.
3. Water, blue food coloring, dish soap, and glitter. He loves this one.
4. Plastic rhinestones and water.
5. Plastic magnetic letters (from the dollar store) and beads.
I glued all of the bottles shut with super glue, but still make sure he only plays with these when we are keeping a close eye on him since he likes to try to chew on everything.
Next up is his sensory board. I made this using a small shipping box that I cut open and laid flat. I store it folded in half and it works out pretty well. It was quick and dirty assembly with duct tape, and not Etsy style pretty, but I could not care less. He loves the board, it didn’t take me long to make, cost me almost nothing, and that is all that matters to me. :) I used pieces of felt leftover from his room decorations, bits and pieces left over from my bathroom mosaic, carpet sample, miscellaneous beads and rhinestones, pipecleaners, popsicle sticks, and some leftover swatches of textured wallpaper, window covering, and drawer liner. Again, I used super glue to secure everything to the pieces of felt. Then I attached the felt with duct tape.
Here is his absolute favorite, even after months of playing with it…the container of corn starch!
Here are two that I saw on Pinterest that were huge fails. I made squishy bags with some little dollar store finds, blue hair gel in one and shaving cream in the other. I closed up the two freezer bags with duct tape. I thought he would love them, but he hasn’t shown much interest in squishing them. He just wants to chew on them and those teeth are dangerously sharp. I am putting these bags away for later, when he stops chewing on everything.
Another sensory activity that E was crazy about was a small bowl of water with ice cubes. I have stopped doing this activity with him though since it has turned into a frustrating thing every time we are at a restaurant and he wants to stick his hands in everyone’s ice water. :) He makes a pretty big mess with his sensory play time, but the vacuum robot is great for cleanup. My husband is not a fan of the corn starch thing since it tends to get everywhere, but the robot is usually pretty good about getting rid of the evidence of the huge white mess before Daddy gets home. ;)
As with any homemade toy with small parts, be sure to only let your baby play with these while supervised so the small parts don’t turn into choking hazards! Also be sure that everything is properly adhered with strong glue. I like to arrange the parts in shapes so I immediately will be able to see if something is missing and I can grab it out of his tiny little hands. :)