Sensory Play Ideas for Kids in Australia

Kids enjoying sensory play ideas

Sensory Play Activities Perfect for the Aussie Environment

Kids enjoying sensory play ideas

Are you ready to dive into the world of sensory play ideas for your little ones? Sensory play isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a crucial part of childhood development. Sensory play ideas help children learn about the world through their senses. In the unique landscape of Australia, we’ve got some fantastic sensory play ideas tailored specifically for our environment. Let’s explore some engaging and easy-to-do sensory play activities that will captivate your children and help them grow.

Sand and Water Play

There’s something inherently magical about sand and water. These simple elements can provide hours of fun and are perfect for sensory development. Let’s delve into some creative sensory play ideas involving sand and water.

Sand Play Ideas

Sandcastle Building: Encourage creativity by building sandcastles at the beach or in a sandbox. It’s not only fun but also enhances fine motor skills. Use buckets, spades, and moulds to create intricate designs. Add a storyline to the activity by imagining who might live in the castles.

Treasure Hunt: Bury small toys in the sand and let your kids dig them out. This activity sharpens their problem-solving skills and adds an element of surprise. You can use themed toys, like dinosaurs or cars, to make the hunt more exciting.

Sand Art: Use coloured sand to create beautiful patterns and pictures. It’s a great way to explore textures and colours. You can glue sand onto paper to make permanent art pieces. Layer different colours in a bottle to create a colourful sand display.

Water Play Ideas

Splash Pools: Set up a small splash pool in your backyard for some cool summer fun. It’s perfect for hot Australian days. Add floating toys and encourage your kids to play games like ‘catch the duck’ or ‘boat races’.

Water Painting: Provide brushes and water for kids to ‘paint’ on the driveway or footpath. Watch their imaginations come alive as they create water murals that disappear in the sun. This is a great way to practise drawing and writing without the mess of paint.

Floating and Sinking: Teach basic science concepts by experimenting with what floats and sinks. Gather a variety of objects and predict which will float or sink before testing them. Discuss why some objects float while others sink, introducing concepts like buoyancy and density.

Nature-Based Sensory Play

Australia’s natural environment offers a wealth of sensory play opportunities. Here are some sensory play ideas that incorporate nature.

Bushwalks and Nature Trails

Leaf Collecting: Gather leaves of different shapes, sizes, and textures. This can be turned into a fun collection or art project. Press the leaves between heavy books to preserve them, and then create a leaf collage or use them for leaf rubbings with crayons.

Bug Hunting: Safely search for insects and observe their behaviours. It’s a great way to learn about local wildlife. Use a magnifying glass to get a closer look and a small jar with holes for temporary observation. Encourage gentle handling and release the bugs back into their habitat afterwards.

Sound Walks: Listen to the sounds of nature – birds, wind, and rustling leaves. It’s a calming and sensory-rich experience. Make a list of the sounds you hear and try to identify them. This activity enhances listening skills and awareness of the natural environment.

Beach Activities

Shell Collecting: Find and categorise different shells. This activity combines learning with sensory exploration. Create a display of the shells at home or use them in craft projects like making shell necklaces or decorating picture frames.

Rock Pool Exploration: Discover marine life in tidal pools. It’s an exciting way to learn about ocean ecosystems. Bring a small bucket and gently collect some of the creatures for closer observation before returning them to their pools. Look for crabs, starfish, and small fish.

Sand Sculptures: Create art using sand, shells, and seaweed. It’s a creative and tactile sensory play idea. Work together to build large sculptures or individual pieces. Use found objects like driftwood and sea glass to add details.

Indoor Sensory Play Ideas

When the weather isn’t cooperating, indoor sensory play is a fantastic alternative. Here are some indoor sensory play ideas that can keep kids engaged.

Sensory Bins

Rice or Pasta Bin: Fill a bin with rice or pasta and hide toys for a tactile treasure hunt. It’s easy to set up and provides hours of fun. Use food colouring to dye the rice or pasta for added visual interest. Provide scoops, funnels, and containers for pouring and measuring.

Water Beads: These squishy beads are great for tactile exploration. They’re colourful and feel amazing to touch. Create a calming sensory experience by adding them to a bin with some water and encouraging your child to run their hands through them or sort them by colour.

Nature Bin: Include leaves, pinecones, and sticks for a nature-themed sensory experience indoors. Add some toy animals or insects to create a small natural habitat. This can be a great way to explore textures and learn about nature even when you can’t go outside.

Creative Play

Playdough Fun: Make homemade playdough and create different shapes and figures. It’s a classic sensory play idea that never gets old. Add different scents using essential oils or spices to make it a multi-sensory experience. Provide cookie cutters, rolling pins, and other tools to enhance the play.

Sensory Bottles: Fill clear bottles with various items like glitter, beads, and water to create calming sensory tools. They’re perfect for quiet time. Shake the bottles to watch the items move and settle, which can be very soothing. Experiment with different fillings like rice, oil, and small toys.

Feely Bags: Place different textured objects in bags for kids to identify by touch. It’s a fun guessing game that develops tactile awareness. Use items like cotton balls, sandpaper, sponges, and smooth stones. Ask your child to describe the texture and guess what the object is.

Outdoor Messy Play

Let’s embrace the mess and dive into some outdoor messy play activities. These sensory play ideas are perfect for letting kids get their hands dirty and have fun.

Mud Play

Mud Kitchen: Set up a pretend kitchen where kids can ‘cook’ with mud. It’s a fantastic way to play chef while exploring different textures. Provide old pots, pans, and utensils. Add natural ingredients like leaves, flowers, and sticks to the ‘recipes’.

Mud Painting: Use mud as paint on large pieces of paper. It’s messy, fun, and creative. Encourage your child to create different patterns and pictures. Add natural colours by mixing in some crushed berries or leaves.

Mud Sculptures: Create sculptures using mud, leaves, and sticks. This sensory play idea encourages creativity and fine motor skills. Build animals, people, or abstract forms. Leave the sculptures to dry in the sun and see how they change over time.

Paint and Colour

Spray Bottle Painting: Fill spray bottles with watercolours and let kids spray paint on large sheets of paper. It’s a colourful way to explore art. Hang the paper on a fence or lay it on the ground. Experiment with different techniques like layering colours and creating patterns.

Bubble Art: Mix food colouring with bubble solution and let kids blow colourful bubbles onto paper. It’s a delightful and unexpected art form. Watch the bubbles pop and leave behind beautiful coloured circles. This is a great way to combine science and art.

Nature Paintbrushes: Use leaves, sticks, and flowers as paintbrushes. It’s a fun way to combine nature with art. Dip them in paint and see the different marks they make. This activity encourages experimentation and creativity.


Sensory play ideas are essential for your child’s development, offering a rich and engaging way to explore the world. With these activities tailored to the Australian environment, you can create a stimulating and fun-filled experience for your kids.


What is sensory play?

Sensory play includes activities that stimulate your child’s senses, aiding their cognitive and physical development.

Why are sensory play ideas important?

They help develop fine motor skills, enhance memory, and encourage problem-solving skills.

Can I create sensory play ideas at home?

Absolutely! Many sensory play activities can be done with items you already have at home.

What age is appropriate for sensory play?

Sensory play is suitable for children of all ages, from infants to school-aged kids.

How often should children engage in sensory play?

Regularly incorporating sensory play into your child’s routine can greatly benefit their development. Aim for daily or several times a week.



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