The day was young … mom lead me through a forrest towered by giants, the sequoias. Big things lay ahead of me. This was going to be a big day for me. As the trees cleared I saw it… it called for me from a distance… come Joshua… pour some water on me… and splash!

A sense of urgency filled my veins as I started to bob up and down pulling mom forwards the play area. I saw kids pouring water onto the dirt and.. basically.. yeah.. splashing in it.
splash-bubble-2
We quickly arrived and I poured the water onto some dirt. Splash!… I emptied my whole bucket. ‘More please!’ I told my mom. She didn’t hesitate and poured some more. Yay!… Splash! This time I left some water behind.
Ok… now this looks interesting. Let me see what I created here. It’s wet, brown, cold…. Feels slimy between my fingers. ‘You made mud’ said mom. Mud… hmmm… interesting concept; one would wonder if a mud monster was in the making. Let me see how it feels on my feet. Squishy. I like it! Splash! Take that you mud monster. Oh wait…
I see my mom grab a stick and make a long tunnel. ‘Pour some water here’. Ok… here we go. Splash! Oh wow! It’s a river!
I grab the closest stick to me and try to make more rivers. Now I have mud on my stick. Let’s put it on some rocks, maybe the tree. It sticks to them. I like mud!
I see mom making some mud balls. Off I go to try.
See you all next month.
Lots of smiles, Josh

Tactile games are beneficial for sensory processing.  They help build a foundation for many developmental milestones.

Tactile play supports the development of many fine motor skills. It also supports visual perceptual  (interpretation of what we are seeing) and visual motor skills (hand eye coordination) development.

Tactile exploration through the use of the whole body assists in body awareness. This supports the development of gross motor skills.

As you can see with Josh’s story it can also encourage creativity and problem solving, which supports cognitive development.

Below I have included my top 10 sensory activities for your 19-month toddler. Within them are also activities focusing on tactile play.

As always, these activities have been tried and tested. Enjoy!

Sensory Play Activities

1. Playing in the mud

Playing in the mud

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

One of my favorite memories as a child was playing in the mud. I remember filling buckets of water and pouring them onto the dirt and watching it turn into mud. The fun could last for hours.

It’s time to get your toddlers introduced to this fun and super messy activity.

Getting ready: To make this fun for your toddler and painless for you, here are few things you will need:

  • Change of clothes in case your toddler gets super excited
  • Water to wash the dirt off
  • You can bring some sand toys that can add to the fun
  • Water! Lots of water to help with the mud creation
  • Find a spot of dry dirt that your toddler can play in and create mud

You can start your toddler off by showing them what happens when you pour water onto dirt. Encourage them to interact with it. They can use sticks, their hands or their feet to mix the water and the dirt. Give them the opportunity to also:

  • Pour water onto dirt
  • Swish it around
  • Make it into balls
  • Paint a rock with dirt
  • Make a river by using a stick and pouring water in to the groove
  • Stick mud onto rocks, tress etc
  • Make mud pies
  • Create their own ideas

2. Outdoor treasure hunt

Treasure hunt

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and visual perception Tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular senses

How to play:

Going on a treasure hunt while outdoors is lots of fun. Give your toddler a bucket and start collecting. You can collect sticks, leaves, stones, flowers, grass, acorns etc. While collecting you can talk about the characteristics of the items collected. You can smell them, try to break them into smaller pieces etc.

To make it more challenging you can give them an egg carton and they only have to collect items that fit into it.

Once you have finished collecting your treasures you can either throw them away or save them for a project. Sticking them onto contact paper is one idea.

3. Edible water beads

Josh with water beads

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination Tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Equipment: I love water beads however I was looking for a more edible alternative. Then I came across Boba pearls. They are tapioca balls used in a popular Taiwanese drink and easily available on amazon.  For a variety of colors I would recommend the rainbow boba. If you follow the instructions they are ready within 5 minutes.

Once they are cooked and cooled they are ready to be enjoyed. I added some food dye to part of them for extra color.

If used without water you will get a little bit of a sticky play experience. If used with water it will be a little more slippery play experience.

Here are some ideas of what you can do with these water beads:

  • Explore with hands
  • Explore with feet
  • Squish them
  • Place in a container of water
  • Add shaving cream
  • Scoop into smaller containers using spoons or other kitchen utensils
  • Sort into muffin tin
  • Manipulate with kids buckets, shovels, sifters etc.

Found another fun activity you can do with these little beads? Leave me a comment below.

4. Color fun

Painting with baster

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, bilateral coordination and hand eye coordination. Tactile and proprioceptive senses.

How to play:

Equipment: Pipette/dropper/baster, paper towels/coffee filters, food coloring, small containers with water and tray.

Step 1: Cut paper towel into desired shape. Since the fall season just started I decided to cut ours into a leaf.

Step 2: Add a few drops of food dye into water.

Step 3: Show your toddler how to squeeze the bulb and slowly release it into the water to draw up the liquid. Then have them squeeze it out onto the paper towel/coffee filter. It might take few tries for them to get it.

Step 4:  Continue until fully covered. Then let it dry before picking it up as it may tear into pieces.

Enjoy the colorful leaves or whatever design you decide on.

Occupational Therapy Tip: If your toddler is having a difficult time using the dropper or a pipette try using a baster instead. They are larger in size and easier to be manipulated by little hands.

5. Painting with fruit

Painting with fruit

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, bilateral coordination and hand eye coordination. They can also learn about colors. Tactile, olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) senses.

How to play:

I decided to use orange, lemon and lime for this activity. Feel free to modify the fruit or vegetables you use.

Place some paint (orange, yellow and green) on individual plates. Before matching the colors with the fruit you can talk about them. Their color, their taste and their smell. Once their curiosity has subsided match them with the paint colors.

Once the fruit pieces are in the paint they turn into paintbrushes. I used Glob All Natural Paint. It’s all natural flavors so you don’t have to stress if it goes into the toddler’s mouth.

Then, let the Picasso out.

6. Messy play: Little Chef

Playing with flour

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, bilateral coordination and hand eye coordination. Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses.

How to Play:

Equipment: Flour, grain (lentils or rice), sifter, whisk, ladles etc.

Simply combine the two ingredients (flour & grain). Place all other equipment next to the container and let your toddler play and explore. If they get stuck, you can demonstrate an activity that they can do. Examples include: stirring, pouring, finding hidden toys or simply mixing in the texture with their hands. Let their imagination run wild!

7. Masking tape play on the floor

Masking tape

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand strengthening, shoulder strengthening, balance and core strengthening. Tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses.

How to play:

Simply stick masking tape randomly on your floor. Once your creation is complete let your toddler go wild and undo your creation. They get a good workout trying to pull off all that tape.

8. Ball round up

Ball round up

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Gross motor skills, hand eye coordination and visual perception skills. Vestibular, proprioceptive and visual senses.

How to play:

Equipment: A target (an old box or a laundry basket), bat (swimming noodle cut into a small piece or a plastic bat) and balls.

The aim of the game is to guide all the balls into the target (box or a laundry basket) with the use of a bat. I decided to use light balls as balloons move quicker and are more challenging to get into a target.

9. Fun in the tub: Shaving cream on the wall

Shaving cream in the bath

This is another fun one and this time with easy clean up.

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and body awareness. Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Place shaving cream or bubble soap on the bathtub wall. Guide your little one to explore with their hands. Let them spread it around the wall or use a pointer finger to scribble or make lines. You can then give them a variety of instruments that they can use to play with the shaving cream. Some examples include a paintbrush, a sponge or a toy car that can drive through it.

Once satisfied with exploring it while it’s on the wall they can move it onto their body. They can spread it all over their belly, hands and legs. Once done they can learn how to wash it all off.

10. Splish splash

Splish splash

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand and finger strengthening, hand eye coordination. Tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Time to get those squirting toys out to play. They are most traditionally used while in the bath tub but for some variety I decided to take them out. By squeezing the squirting toys your hand muscles get a work out. You can take them outside and try to water the plants, make a small puddle, create some mud in dirt or try to hit a target. We used ping pong balls in a container of water. Josh had a wonderful time watching them swish.

Summary

There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 19 month old toddler. These are bound to spark up other ideas. Let me know what activities you have tried in the comments section below.

Remember: Each baby develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in this month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

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