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When it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, sensory play is where it’s at! Sensory play encourages fine motor development and cognitive development through play. Study upon study has shown sensory play to be important to development. Getting messy and getting your hands dirty is good for brain development! An added bonus for parents is that sensory play has the power to keep your toddler and/or preschooler busy for a LONG time! And who doesn’t want that?

Parents stuck inside at home all want to keep their little one busy AND learning. Right? Well, take a seat, because sensory play is just the strategy you’re looking for!

This post contains all the sensory dough recipes you’ll ever need! PIN this one post so you’ll have all your sensory recipes in one spot instead of scattered about on different boards saved in a million different locations! It will make finding these recipes infinitely easier and save you time in the future.

I’ve personally tried each of these recipes and can vouch for them. Each and every one is sure to work and provide loads of entertainment for your child.

If you want tools to go along with your doughs, try using popsicle sticks, measuring spoons and whisks from your kitchen, kids baking tools, silicone cupcake liners, or you can go the traditional route of using purchased play dough tools to add another element of fun.

Mix up which tools you’re using with the dough to encourage different sorts of play and create new experiences that will extend your child’s learning! I love to see the different ideas my kids can come up with using various materials I supply. Let their creativity go!

With just a little planning and adding materials parents and caregivers can create a sensory experience that will keep their child busy and learning for a LONG time.

So, let’s get started off with a recipe for probably the one sensory activity every parent is familiar with – playdough!

Playdough Recipe

Did you know that you can make your own playdough at home?! It’s SO easy! Homemade playdough lasts much longer than store-bought playdough. Homemade playdough simply doesn’t dry out as quickly! It also doesn’t have that weird playdough smell and is taste-safe for your precious little ones that can tend to put things in their mouths.

Another bonus is you get so much more bang for your buck! Each batch of playdough makes so much more than those tiny little plastic containers you can buy at the store. You’ll have more playdough to explore and experiment with!

This is SERIOUSLY the only playdough recipe you’ll ever need in your home. It’s great for parents to make with kids because you don’t have to cook it on the stovetop.

Fun Variations on Traditional Playdough: Try adding glitter to create sparkly Frozen-themed playdough dyed in shades of blues and purples or add cinnamon to make some fall-themed playdough that is red, orange or yellow. You can also add peppermint oil for a fun twist during the holiday season!

Cloud Dough

This recipe is a fun variation to try, however, simply mixing 7 cups of flour and 1 cup of vegetable oil together will give a great cloud dough experience! So much fun!


Jello Slime

Full disclosure, I used to have a “no slime under my roof” rule. It just felt too sticky and messy and gross with little ones. I prefer things that clean easily. Slimes also tend to not be safe for toddlers, which was obviously a huge factor for me and my family situation. HOWEVER, I found this recipe for edible slime that uses Jello and I love it!

We mixed this edible slime up outside and had fun making a big mess where I could just hose off everything afterward. I now keep Jello on hand for days when I need something different to keep my kids learning even if I’m super tired and my brain is just not functioning.

Give this one a try! Your kids will have a blast!

Pudding Dough

This recipe is called “pudding slime” on the site where I found it, however, when I made it, it was less slimy and more doughy. Another fun dough alternative to try! It smells so good too! Pudding dough is another great sensory activity for toddlers to try and add to your sensory play rotation!


Gingerbread Playdough

Another AMAZING playdough recipe that I personally enjoy making at the holidays is this Gingerbread Playdough. We use it with cookie cutters and kid-size rolling pins. Mmmm I want to make a batch right now just to smell it! The smell brings you right to childhood memories of the holidays as you play with your children making new memories together.


Wet Sand

If you’re missing the beach and dreaming of building sandcastles on a beautiful summer day, then give this sensory activity a try with your toddler or preschooler. You can shape this sand just like wet sand at the beach! My toddler sat right in the bin with the sand and was thrilled with the experience. I love playing right next to my little ones with this wet sand.

We added shells to this sensory play activity that we collected on a vacation that seems long ago now. Playing with this wet sand certainly takes me right to the beach!


Cornstarch and Water

I’ve been mixing cornstarch and water for years now and just stumbled upon a recipe on Pinterest for using these two items together. Apparently people call it Oobleck. Who knew!? Not me..

Mixing cornstarch and water has always been one of my favorite messy sensory play activities to do with toddlers. The way the mixture is solid then melty is so cool to experiment with. It’s so mesmerizing. This sensory activity is sure to keep your child entertained for a while.

Even though it is messy, this toddler-friendly activity cleans up really easily as it dries out and basically becomes cornstarch again. I don’t know how great it is for the vacuum, but you can potentially vacuum up the cornstarch. Before you begin this sensory activity, put down a towel and you can shake it outside when you’re done. A simple rinsing down with water is all you need for your kids to get clean. Get messy and have fun!

Flour and oil

I know flour and oil is how you make cloud dough, but I also add a little extra oil and make what looks a whole lot like pie dough. My kids love exploring this dough and feeling its silky texture. When we bake together, I often end up giving them flour and oil to explore while whatever tasty treat we’ve just whipped up is cooking. Waiting is not easy and this quick activity keeps my children happy and distracted from the agony of waiting.

To find out how I get my little ones helping in the kitchen, click HERE for my post on Kids in the Kitchen!

Even my one-year-old is able to help safely in the kitchen! You’ll find specific recommendations for jobs to give your little ones and recipes that will help build your toddler’s skills!

So much learning and cool sensory experiences can happen in the kitchen, if you’re adventurous enough to give it a try. I promise with the right tools it is possible to get your little ones in the kitchen safely!

I love sensory play! It’s important for brain development and provides endless opportunities for building cognitive abilities, fine motor skills and FUN!

This list holds all the sensory recipes I am constantly looking up to make for my kids over and over again. Try them for yourself and you’re sure to make your child think you’re the best parent around! You’ll feel good knowing your child is learning and relieved that these sensory activities will keep them busy for a good long while! Have fun exploring these sensory activity recipes!! You’ll be so happy you did!

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