Creative Child

25 Less-Mess Sensory Play Activities

by Rebecca Eanes

Sensory play has lots of great benefits for kids, but sometimes we don’t have the time or energy to clean up the big messes sensory play can make. I’ve rounded up 25 sensory activities that make little to no mess for you and your kids. Have fun! 

1. This cotton ball sensory bin is a great activity for little hands to explore.

2. Kids yoga is a totally mess-free vestibular activity!

3. Make your own instruments, such as this DIY xylophone, or just banging on pots and pans. Hey, I said less mess, not less noise!

4. Create a neat colander sculpture with pipe cleaners.

5. Frozen fans, here is a winter sensory bag your kids will enjoy!

6. Babies enjoy sensory play, too. Here is a baby-safe water bead sensory bag by Sugar Aunts.

7. Ziploc finger painting is another great activity for babies and toddlers, but I have to say, it looks pretty relaxing for me, too.

8. I love this DIY zipper board! What a fun way to work on fine motor skills!

9. This peek-a-boo sensory board by Motherhood and Other Adventures is pure genius!

10. How about creating an engaging discovery bottle for your baby or toddler, like these by The Imagination Tree?

11. Is it snowing? Bring some in for a mess-free snow sensory bag!

12. Spring is just around the corner. Gather some flower petals and leaves and make these nature crowns from The Empowered Educator.

13. Felt boards are so much fun, and this snowman felt board activity is great for a winter day.

14. Ice excavation was one of my boys’ favorite activities! Free a few small toys in an ice block and let them bust them out with rubber mallets. To keep the mess contained, do it outside or in the tub!

15. Oobleck is always a fun sensory activity, but it’s messy! This color-mixing bag activity bag makes it mess free but keeps it fun.

16. Is there anything messier than glitter? Put it in a sealed bag with some shaving cream and voila! Mess-free glitter sensory play!


17. Create a tactile bin with vegetables, rubber balls, sandpaper, or whatever you have around your house! Just include varying textures for your little one to explore.

18. Riding bikes and scooters is sensory play, too. Balance is a function of the vestibular system.

19. This sandpaper art from Buggy and Buddy is a neat sensory activity that just requires two things – sandpaper and crayons!

20. Playdough isn’t too messy. Try this homemade rainbow playdough by MeriCherry.

21. These textured stepping stones by Adventures and Play look fairly easy to make and would be really fun for little toddler feet!

22. Sneak in some alphabet recognition with the eye-spy alphabet sensory bag found here at Growing a Jeweled Rose.

23. Create a nature discovery bin by collecting leaves, acorns, sticks, pinecones, and rocks for your little one to explore.

24. Couch cushion games are popular among kids, and they’re not too much trouble to pick up afterwards. Here are 10 couch cushion games by The Inspired Treehouse to try.

25. Make this easy DIY light table and use translucent pattern blocks like these for a wonderful visual experience!

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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