I recently posted some ways to make sensory play more manageable at home, but I also wanted to share some super fun ideas that will be great for the next few wintery months! And the best part about this list? These activities aren’t messy, and most of the materials are things you probably have around the house!

1 – Stacking Snowmen – This activity can be done with or without the snowman faces on the marshmallows (if you have little ones who are likely to taste them, use food markers). This one does have the potential to be messy if kiddos squish the marshmallows, but if your little one will stick to just stacking this should remain mess free!

Materials: large marshmallows

2 – Homemade Musical Shakers – This activity can be done in many different ways. Any container and filler will do (I used a plastic bottle and dry black beans). This link also includes fun games to play with your new shaker!

Materials: empty plastic container (water bottle etc.), filler (beans, pasta, etc.) – Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes

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3 – Colander Pipe Cleaner Activity – This activity gives toddlers fine motor practice as they fit the pipe cleaners into the holes of the colander. It also gives them an opportunity to explore the fuzzy texture of the pipe cleaners.

Materials: colander, pipe cleaners  – Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes

4 – Silhouette and Shadow Play – Shadows are so interesting to little ones. This activity allows kids to experiment with light and shadows. This could be done with light that shines through a sunny window in your home, or you can turn off the lights and prop up a flashlight for the same effect!

Materials: Sunny window or a flashlight, puppets or stuffed animals

5 – Cotton Ball Sensory Bin – This easy activity allows toddlers to explore the soft texture of the cotton balls, as well as giving them fine motor practice as they scoop and dump.

Materials: bowl, bag of cotton balls, kitchen spoons or scoops – Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes

6- Laundry Basket Push Game – Using big muscle groups (gross motor) is a great way to help kids develop proprioception*, which is basically a person’s ability to know where their own body is in space, and where their limbs are in relation to the rest of their body. This game involves filling a laundry basket with a few heavy books and some favorite toys, and allowing your child to push it around the house! I know that LL loves to do this anyway, and adding weight to the basket makes it a little more challenging. 

Materials: Laundry basket, heavy books, toys or other items to fill the basket

*Is proprioception  a new word for you like it was for me? More about the proprioceptive system here!

7 – Sticky Window – I know I know, this sounds messy. But it isn’t! Hurray!

Materials: Contact Paper, Window (or other flat surface), cotton balls, q-tips

8- Get Up and Move Dice – This is a great activity that gets kids moving, and it can easily be done indoors on cold rainy or snowy days!

Materials: 2 inexpensive cube shaped gift boxes, sharpie marker  (the author at this link used chalk board paint to spray the boxes and created reusable dice, but this is more expensive if you don’t already have the paint and this step can easily be skipped)

9 – Fine Motor “Snowballs“- This activity would be especially fun for the older crowd!

Materials: Foam balls, golf tees, rubber bands

10 – Rhyming with Scarves – This incorporates touch, sight, and sound senses into one activity! So fun

Materials: scarves (or larger pieces of scrap fabric, thin blankets, etc.)

11 – Build with Sugar Cubes – This one is self explanatory! Watch out with little ones…small sugar cubes can be a choking hazard so close supervision is necessary. This link provides a recipe for how to make your own, or you can purchase them to make this activity even easier! (image source)

12 – Snowman Felt Board Activity – I wrote about this activity last year, and it makes a great no mess sensory activity for young toddlers!

Materials: Felt board (you can make your own with felt or fleece, foam board, and hot glue), Felt to make pieces

11 – Jingle Bell Streamers – These take a little prep work and require close supervision if you have very little ones, but older toddlers will love helping you make these special shakers!

Materials – pipe cleaners, jingle bells, ribbon

14 – Walking on Pillows – This is a great way to get kids moving inside on a day where going outside is difficult.

Materials: Large pillows or couch cushions

15 – Threading with Jingle Bells – This is a great fine motor activity, that also incorporates sound.

Materials: Large jingle bells, bamboo skewer, styrofoam

16 – Mosaic Wall – This is a fun and easy tactile activity for older toddlers and preschoolers.

Materials: Contact paper, small foam, plastic, or wooden blocks

17 – Pipe Cleaner Sculptures – The different textures of the materials are a great sensory experience for kids, with no mess to clean up!

Materials: Styrofoam, pipe cleaners, straw pieces

18 – Painting in a Can – This one does require paint, but kids can create without getting their hands (or your kitchen!) too messy! For the easiest clean up, choose a container and rattling items that can be thrown away when finished!

Materials: Paint, paper, container for shaking, items that will rattle (beads, marbles, etc.)

19 – Homemade Baby Guitar – This is super simple and fun for any age!

Materials: Bread pan, rubber bands

20 – Less Mess Sensory Bin – This is great for indoors! We had this set up for months, and clean up never took more than a minute (of course if your little one starts tossing the beans, it’s time to put it away!)

Materials: Large under the bed storage bin, smaller shoebox sized storage bin, 3 bags of pinto beans (or another type of bean or pasta), measuring cups, spoons, and other assorted scoops from the kitchen.

21 – Visual Sensory Bottles – These are great for small babies, but are fun for toddlers too!

Materials: clear plastic water bottles, various materials to fill them with