#selbsseries | Home based sensory play for toddlers

Hey Mamas, 

In these challenging times of #Covid19, we turn into paranoid moms and have started cancelling all enrichments, outings and even have thoughts of pulling our little ones out from schools. Going to indoor playgrounds is a No-No (at least for me) and going outdoor everyday can be too sweaty and exhausting. With the current implementation of travel bans, restrictions and social distancing, staying home for now is the best bet. Now what do we do with our littles ones from the time they wake up and in between their naps and meals? 

I have been spending a lot of time researching on home based activities for Iman (2 years, 5 months old) and making sure she is packed with things to do with 45mins of screen time per day. Sounds impossible? I must admit that the easiest way is to let them watch youtube videos or let them play games on our ipads/phones to kill a few hours a day. We're all aware of the benefits of lesser screen time especially for kids below 3 years old, and it’s really not too difficult to come out with activities. 

In today's blogpost, I'm sharing with you 5 easy messy play activities you can do with your child, suitable from ages 2 and above. (If your child is younger, make it simpler and lesser materials.) Hear the word messy and you're gonna close this post? Hang on a second.. Since we have ALL the time at home, may as well use the time to get messy with them, wash up together and teach them how to clean up after mess. Trust me, you could end up using a whole good 1 hour. And because they are so immersed in that 1 hour, the rest of the day will fall in place nicely. Tested and proven=)


1) Ice and paints

sensory play

sensory play

Things you need: A tray ( I got from IKEA), washable paints, ice and  I throw in some toys to make it fun. 

Learning: Difference of hot and cold. How water freezes into ice and heat causes it to melt. 

How to play: I usually give her a task. "Ok lets clean the animals and shower them." "Now its time to paint the animals." "They are dirty now, lets shower them again."

2) Oobleck




Things you need: A tray, corn flour, water, spoons, and food colouring ( optional ).

Learning: This is purely sensory, the textures of the flour with water is so fun, even I enjoyed doing it. 

How to play: Play with flour first (10mins), then start adding water. Towards the end add some colouring. 

*This can get real messy so contain them in an area near the toilet so you can wash up quickly. To clean up the mess, you have to mop with more water. If you wash in the sink, make sure the tap is running a little longer so you won’t choke your sink.

3) Wall painting

sensory play



Things you need: Long papers ( I got from IKEA), washable paints, brush or any tools.

Learning: Colour mixing, hand painting. Most of the time we teach kids to paint on the table or floor. On the wall, they are required to move their hands in a different way, improving their hand eye coordination. 

How to play: I usually give 1 colour at a time, and a maximum of 3 to 4 colours. This is more controlled as they usually go crazy with all colours. Same with tools, i take out 2 to 3 and give 1 at a time.  I usually engage with her and paint together. Sometimes they can do it free style, at times I step in and show different ways. For example, stamp my hand or slide it down, slide it right and slide it left. You'll be surprise with these few techniques, it gives them a head start to explore in their own ways. 

4) Car ride with paints

messy play

Things you need: Long papers ( I got from IKEA), washable paints, toy cars.

Learning: Traffic lights: Red for stop, amber for slow down and green for go. Turning right and left. Straight lines and curved lines. 

How to play: I first drew a simple birds eye view of roads. I then planted some traffic lights. I gave her a car and said that she is the driver. Paints has to be watery. Dip the toy car into the container of paints and start the game. When she passes the traffic light, I would say ok.. red light, so she has to stop. 

*Iman ended up playing in her own ways and didn't follow my instructions. I almost lost my cool but I thought “hey maybe she isn't ready for this.” I thought it was going to be fun because whenever we drive, she enjoys saying "red abah (dad), stop. Go abah, its green light."

**Rule of thumb is always be open and follow the beat of your child's rhythm.

5) Explosion of colours

messy play

Things you need: Milk, cotton bud, food colouring, dish washing liquid and a little container. 

Learning: Colour mixing and observing the cause and effect of the materials. 

How to play: Pour milk into container. Pour food coloring (try with 1 colour first). Squeeze some dish washing liquid onto cotton bud and dip into the mixture. You will see the colour explode. If your child is old enough to understand about the covid virus, you can take this opportunity to say that when your hands are clean and wash with soap, all the virus will run away.

Remember to be fully present during the activity and engage them from the time you prepare till cleaning up. Usually I do this about 10am to 11am, after which Iman will rest and relax and be ready just in time for lunch. 

Please do share with me if you try any of these activities and if you make any interesting changes/improvements. (Tag @lullyselb).

Happy exploring mamas. I challenge you to brave the mess!





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