How to Make a Sensory Toy Kit

A sensory toy kit can be an invaluable resource for children, providing engaging activities that stimulate their senses and support their development. Whether you’re a parent or a foster carer, making your own sensory toy kit allows you to tailor it exactly to a child’s needs and interests. Read on for tips on creating a versatile sensory toy kit that will delight and stimulate kids.

Gather Your Materials

Start by gathering an array of materials that provide diverse textures, colours, sounds and scents. Good items to include are:

  • Different textured fabrics like silk, burlap, fleece and cotton balls
  • Pinecones, rocks, seashells, and other natural objects
  • Bells, whistles, shakers and other noisemakers
  • Essential oils and extracts for scents
  • Feathers, pom poms, pipe cleaners, and other tactile materials

Have some empty containers on hand too. Raid your recycling for yogurt tubs, water bottles, tissue boxes and more.

Add Tactile Elements

Now it’s time to put together some tactile toys and activities. Take a piece of burlap, fleece or other fabric and stitch some different buttons, ribbons, beads and pom poms onto it. Add some embroidery floss and have them practice lacing. Glue various materials onto empty containers – try foam shapes, sequins, sticks, felt, cotton balls, and anything else with an interesting texture. Fill containers with dry materials like rice, lentils, and sand so kids can pour and dig through it.

Incorporate Sounds

Sounds engage the auditory senses so be sure to add lots of noisemakers. Put beans, bells, and beads in empty containers and seal them with tape to make shakers. Use a funnel to fill bottles and jars with materials like pennies, rocks, or beads. Attach jingle bells to hair clips and let kids explore clipping them to their clothes. Buy a small rain stick or make your own by filling a tube with rice and sealing the ends.

Appeal to the Sense of Smell

The sense of smell can be very soothing. Have a collection of small containers that kids can open to sniff. Essential oils to try are vanilla, lavender, peppermint and citrus. You can also use extracts like almond, anise, and maple. Label them so kids can match scents like lemon and lemon extract. Limit this to just sniffing for safety.

Encourage Visual Exploration

Add viewing bottles, kaleidoscopes, prism discs, and mirrors so kids can discover how light bends, reflects, and separates into colours. Have magnets and various metals for them to experiment with magnetic forces. Gather interesting collections like stickers, shiny rocks, coloured pom poms, and seashells that they can observe, sort and count.

Keep It Organised

Maintain all these sensory materials in a portable container like a big zipper bag or storage box. Small compartmentalised organiser trays allow you to neatly separate items. Labelling containers helps with organisation too. Having everything together in one transportable kit makes it easy to pull out for sensory play at home or on the go.

Adapt for Developmental Stages

The great thing about sensory toy kits is that they can be tailored to a child’s age and abilities. For toddlers, use chunkier materials that are safe for mouthing like rattles, soft blocks, and cloth books. For preschoolers, add activities like lacing cards, sorting games and simple puzzles. Older kids will enjoy more complex building toys, magnet sets, kaleidoscopes, and exploratory materials like microscopes. Your kit can also adapt grow with the child, which is useful for children who are in long-term foster care.

Sensory stimulation is key for childhood development. A personalised sensory toy kit engages kids’ senses and provides open-ended play opportunities. Adjust contents as children grow for a toy kit that evolves with them. Most importantly, have fun putting it together and exploring all it has to offer!