Handmade Holidays – Sensory Activities

I absolutely love the idea of Handmade Holidays.  It gives me a chance to be creative but also to give a gift to those people special to me that I spent time and energy working on just for them.  Gifts from the store are just not the same for me, so why not do what makes me happy.

So in the spirit of handmade holidays I spent some time today putting together some sensory items for a sensory tub for the kiddos that would make a wonderful christmas present for the preschooler in your life.  Sensory tubs are such a great activity both for young kids as well as those nearly kindergarten.  Their creativity and imagination come out when they have a few toys and a bin full of beans or sand.  My kids have been known to be occupied for 30 minutes or more playing in their tub.

While I am new to sensory activities, thanks to preschool I have seen some of the really fun activities that can be done in a sensory table.  I set out to make a home version that can have multiple activities to swap out while keeping it all stored in the tub when not in use.

To start you need a tub to contain, or attempt to contain the mess, and if you are anything like me you have a handful of Rubbermaid under bed storage bins lying around.  Once you have a bin you are ready to start creating items for the kiddos to play with.

Coloured Rice

The first things I knew I wanted was coloured rice, not only is it fun to play with but it is also an activity the kids can help with.  There are many tutorials out there on how to make coloured rice but I found it was just 3 easy steps, so here they are.


Get a ziplock bag and add all the wet ingredients.  The ratio is 1 tablespoon vinegar for every cup of rice.  You then add as much food colouring as you need to get the colour you want.  If you have any essential oil lying around add a few drops to neutralize the vinegar smell.

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Add the rice to the bag and seal tightly, then have your favourite kiddo shake until all the rice is all covered.


Lastly, empty the bag onto a cookie sheet and let dry for an hour.  Repeat until you have all the colours you want.

While the rice is drying you can work on a few more items for the tub.


With the weather turning and christmas upon us there is constant excitement for the possibility of snow, but since we live in Seattle snow is not a common occurrence.  Why not make snow to be played with year round.  Just a warning this one is super messy and has been known to be played with in the empty bathtub.


Empty a big container of cornstarch into your tub and let your preschooler empty a can of shaving cream into it.  You can even add glitter, because what kid doesn’t like a bit of glitter to play with.


Once it is all mixed it is super fluffy but can also be made into little balls.  Grab a bunch of little toys, cups and spoons and let the kids make a mess with their snow.

When you are all done you can put it into a plastic container or ziplock bag and store it for later.  Because there is nothing perishable it can be stored indefinitely.

Mixed Beans

The old standby of a mixed bag of beans is always a huge hit.


This one is quick and easy to put together especially if you already have dried beans in your cupboard.  If not head to the store and pick up a bunch of different beans and grains all in various sizes.


Throw them all together and add a bunch of toys and cups and you have a great activity to keep the kiddos busy.

What I love so much about these sensory activities is that both my 1 and 3 year old can play with them together and it requires very little setup or cleanup.  Plus, the skies the limit with activities that can be added.  What preschooler wouldn’t love a tub full of activities, and I know as a parent of two preschooler’s I love having the tub as a great indoor activity.

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