Easy Sensory Play Crafts for Kids — That Aren't Slime

Sensory crafts are incredibly fun, for kids with differences, and kids without. The problem is that sensory often means messy, and for anyone who has ever made slime- that shit gets everywhere. But giving your kids the chance to work with sensory activities (sensory includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing) is really beneficial for your child’s growth and development.

It supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interactions. Sensory play is also great for calming an anxious or stressed out child, and what parent couldn’t use some help calming their kid down? None. None is the answer. But before you start googling ‘sensory crafts’ and ‘carpet replacements’ (because believe me, that will be your next search) take a look at these mess free, gorgeous sensory crafts that use all of your child’s senses to create some colorful masterpieces. No slime in sight.

This rainbow play rice DIY is not only gorgeous, it’s ridiculously easy to make and so fun for little hands to explore. If your kiddo is little enough, sensory bins (bins filled with items of different textures that are fun to mess around with, like rice, uncooked beans, water, pom poms, etc.) are so great- just add a couple scoops, or cups, and let them go nuts. You can also add essential oils, to bump up the sensory factor and make everything smell extra delicious. Head over to A Beautiful Mess for the full (5 minute) tutorial.

Strapped for supplies, but want to give your kids the sensory crafting experience? This bubble painting DIY from Martha Stewart requires only paint, soap, water and a straw to create some truly gorgeous art. Just remind your kiddos to blow OUT the straw, not suck in, or they’ll get a mouthful of painty soapy water. Yuck. But look at the gorgeous circular patterns they make!

Glow in the dark anything is a sure fire success with kids, and these glow in the dark pasta fireflies are no exception. Perfect for summer nights, these mini bugs glow in the dark like the real deal once you charge them up under a lamp. The only supplies you need are pasta, pastel paint, wooden skewers and googly eyes. If you want to speed up the process, an adult can help assemble the finished critter with a hot glue gun. Check out Handmade Charlotte for the step by step instructions.

Finger painting is the epitome of toddler-dom, and this edible toddler finger paint from Say Yes is just the thing for their tiny fingers to smear, smudge and splatter. Not to mention, it’s edible, as in, it’s made from two ingredients; yogurt and food coloring. Yup, that’s it. It makes an entire rainbow of pastel paints for your little ones, and you can toss some granola on the leftovers for a snack. Roll out a big roll of white paper on the floor, and you can feel good about your toddler putting their craft supplies in their mouths for once.

How beautiful is this rainbow ribbon wall hanging from the sister dream team behind A Beautiful Mess? This awesome craft is easy enough for almost any age, and is so customizable. Using different colors and textures of ribbon and huge pom poms, you can create a rainbow fit for your tiny royalty’s room. Use different thicknesses and fabric of ribbons for the full sensory effect.

There is quite possibly nothing better than bubbles, and this scented rainbow bubble station adds some bright, bold additions to your run of the mill bubbles. Bonus, your kids will learn about color mixing and different scents. To make the different bubble wands, use armature wire or pipe cleaners, bend them into whatever shapes you’d like, and go nuts with the bubble making creations! Handmade Charlotte has the scoop on the how to.

Most sand activities wind up with sand in your carpet, in their hair; you’ll find grit in your sandwich days later. But this DIY kinetic sand  from Alice and Lois  sticks together like play dough, so consider this sand craft (relatively) mess free. The sands texture and bright colors make this a craft your kids will be dying to get their hands on, and you can add essential oils to bump up the appeal. This is one craft you’re kids will request to make again, and again…and again….

Ask your kids to squish paper pulp through their fingers and I’m willing to bet you won’t get farther than “Want to squish-” before they’re elbow deep in the project. This DIY seed paper adds a lesson on growing things into an already awesome project, what more could you ask for? Blend colored paper in a blender with some water, add some seeds of your kids choosing, and mix it all together with their hands. Head to Handmade Charlotte for the full tutorial.

Regular paintbrushes are so passe, check out these super easy DIY nature paintbrushes from Martha Stewart that will give your kids original, interesting brushstrokes depending on the different kinds of plants or flowers they choose to use. Bring a little outdoors inside with these nature brushes, and let your tots explore with some washable paint and clothespin handles.

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