Unit 10.3 Ideas for texture and sensory play


Clay is a natural, earthy material that is soft and easily manipulated by children. They do not always need to produce objects made from clay. They may enjoy just getting the feel of the material, rolling it about in their hands. Young children probably get most from the activity when they are using only their own hands. Playing with clay allows children to express ideas in a three-dimensional way. The pushing, pulling, molding and squeezing of the clay develops children’s muscles and coordination.

Children talk to others as they share the clay and their ideas. This helps develop their social abilities and language skills.


Playing with sand is a pleasant experience. Usually children love the feel of sand.
It is a relaxing activity that is creative because children are free to do things in their own way. They can change or extend what they are doing as their imaginative, symbolic play develops.
Digging, scooping, patting, smoothing, lifting are all good activities for developing muscles and coordination.
Social development is fostered as children learn to share, take turns, cooperate on projects and learn safety rules about sand play.


Children need to play with earth. A special digging patch in the ground gives them a chance to dig holes, make mud pies and rivers in the natural environment. Children need to work with the earth and know that it is not just ‘dirt’. They can learn how to nurture growing things. Children can help prepare soil, plant seeds and tend flowers and shrubs. They can grow, harvest, prepare and eat some of their own vegetables.

Feely Box

Cut a hole large enough for a child’s hand out of one end of a shoebox.
Place an object inside of the box and put the lid on.
Have the child put his or her hand through the hole in the box, feel the object and try to guess what it is.
After the child guesses correctly, put a new item in the box and let another child have a turn.

Sniffing Jars

You will need six small jars, six cotton balls and three fragrances such as perfume, onion juice and lemon juice.
Put each fragrance on two of the cotton balls. Then place a cotton ball in each of the jars.

Mix up the jars. Let the children sniff all of the jars and try to find the ones with the matching scents.

A Tasty Party

Provide a small sample of one food that is sweet and one that is sour for each child in the group. As the children taste each kind of food, have them identify the kind of taste.
Provide samples of other foods that are sweet or sour. Have the children group these foods according to their taste.

Texture Boards

Gather several kinds of materials with different textures (fuzzy, smooth, bumpy, ridged, crinkly, rough, etc.) Cut two 10 cm (4 inches) squares of each material and glue them to separate pieces of cardboard.
Use the boards with the children to describe the textures, to match pairs or make groups of similar textures.