Sensory play ideas for failsafe

I collected these great ideas from the Sue Dengate facebook page.

Help! I'm looking for low-chemical, allergen-free ideas for creative / messy / sensory play for a 17 month old who is being cared for full-time at home. We live by the beach, so we have sand covered off. There are so many great play ideas out there, but I've struggled to find ones suitable for very hypersensitive little ones. She doesn't tolerate chemicals in regular household products, like detergent.– Cathie

I'm home with my 18-month-old full time and have just done a plan for the next year of 'learning through play' at home. I'll be documenting on the instagram account @freefromplay, and all activities with be allergen free and failsafe (or as close to as possible).

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  • Paste made from cornflour and water, plus FS colour if you like.
  • Put any normal poster paint in a plastic zip lock bag, use fingers to draw in it, squish colours around and mix them, etc.
  • Play with gel florists balls in water.
  • Toys hidden in large amounts of rice or lentils in a tub, or small amount to in a zip lock bag or bottle.
  • And straws with water, too - and things like ping pong balls that float and can be blown around. – Stephanie

She might be a little bit young for it but my kids always loved a 'floating versus sinking' game - rocks sink in water, a ping pong ball floats and so on. – Veronica

Colourful pegs are good for fine motor and hand eye coordination, kitchen sponges are cheap and good sensory tools. Cut Wool into lengths as pretend spaghetti. homemade play dough is easy to make and it doesn't even need to have any colour in it, you could put glitter in the play dough instead. - Laura

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Get an ice cream container and fill it with water and place one or two toys in to the container its up to you what you put in and how big they are. Place the container in the freezer. Once it is completely frozen use hot water to get the ice brick out of the container and in a suitable area let your child play with the ice brick my kids at work love using a small wooden hammer to try and crack it open to get the toys out. - BeaI think cornflour goo would be perfect if she's ok with cornflour.

  • Water in a sponge could be good too.
  • Blend up paper in water, makes a great paper pulp.
  • A cup of water with a paintbrush to paint pavers/concrete is a huge hit with lots of kids.
  • Spray bottles with water, and watering cans (basically any water play was a huge hit with our day care kids) and funnels. With water or sand, funnels are great
  • If you are successful with cornflour, you can also use cornflour and water in a spray bottle (ideally with some sort of colour) to make spray chalk – Ruth


My toddler looooooved her FS sensory play with water and rice noodles so much she did not want to stop. Her little friends loved it too. –Cathie

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(thanks to Teresa Bowley for this guest blog)