Month 17: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 17 month old

Month 17: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 17 month old

Vroom vroom vroom… oil pressure.. check. vroom vroom.. turbo pressure.. check.. engine purrs.. the friendliest sound you’ve ever heard.. I love my yellow dump truck. We are getting ready for a big adventure outside with mum.

Ok it’s GO time. I put the truck into forward gear, the invisible turbo comes on boost, I know it's there ;-) and we are off and away.. mission; explore the local neighborhood. Mission accepted!
As I storm past, the local hood fat cat gives me his orange thumbs up; I see an army of squirrels aligning themselves on the power lines ahead. Nothing will stop me and my truck. We come flying past them taking a sharp turn to the left on a narrow path that opens wide up ahead. The path is clear. I can smell the fresh flowers blooming all around me.. oh wait.. there’s a Zzzzzz.. and another.. Zzzzzz; wow those bees are busy today.

Behind me, I see mum chasing me. Time to kick it up a notch and move like The Flash. Another sharp turn left. Yeah this is going smoothly. In the distance a glimmer of yellow paved road shines.. it is covered with little yellow speed bumps. Is this for me to slow down? I doubt it. Dad always says go all the way or go home. I aint going home yet. And neither is my truck. Bump bump bump.. ohhh.. this is different. I have arrived on the yellow bumps, they are definitely here to slow me down. Ohh the vibrations are also relaxing. Yeah this is pretty sweet.

As mum catches up to me I give her this opportunity. No sooner I spot another adventure. A gigantic wall. Up we go. I was a little nervous at first but my truck and I went up it just fine. I walked slowly to make sure I didn’t lose my balance. It is a long way down if I fall. I know mum is watching me closely but I don’t want to give her any reason to interrupt me. ‘I made it to the end!’ I turn around and I see my mom’s big smile. I think she is just as proud of me. OK … so how do I get down from here?
So much fun. I can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.


Truck on the fence

Josh has so much fun on his outdoor adventures. From the above story you can see how many different challenges your toddler can encounter when being outside. During Josh’s adventure all his senses were hard at work.

Here are my top 10 sensory activities for your 17 month old toddler. As always, these activities have been tried-and-tested.

Sensory Play for a Healthy Sensory Lifestyle

1. Exploring the outdoors

This is a continuous must-do with your child. It has endless benefits that can target all of your toddler’s senses. As their sensory system develops, they strengthen all their skills including visual, fine and gross motor skills.

Exploring the outdoors can be as easy as going for a walk around the block or visiting a park, playground or a beach.  You will notice that your toddler makes frequent stops to interact with his or her environment or to observe it. Remember not to rush them so they don’t miss out on an opportunity to learn.

Get excited with them about the spotted squirrel. Encourage them to pick up those dry leaves and then rip them into pieces. Allow them to get wet in puddles and dirty in the mud. Let them push their strollers, carts or trucks over different surfaces. So many fun play opportunities as you wonder and explore.

To get more detail about the benefits and play ideas check out my post on Exploring the outdoors.

2.  Stop & go games

Stop & go games are excellent to start teaching your toddler about impulse control.

How to play:

Incorporate stop & go language into your toddler’s favorite games.

Rules: While playing a specific activity say ‘stop’… wait… wait and then say ‘go’ and keep on playing.

After your toddler understands the concept you can prolong the wait time. Just enough to keep them engaged but not frustrated.

Examples of games:

–       Ball bouncing: While bouncing on a large exercise ball

–       While walking outside

–       While walking them in a stroller

–       While giving them a piggy back on your shoulders

–       While pouring water into the bathtub

–       And so on…

3.  Adventures with beads

Beads as necklaces

Skills Developed

Targeted senses

Fine motor skills, eye hand coordination Tactile; proprioceptive and visual senses


How to play:

Equipment needed: bead necklaces, various containers.

So many fun things one can do with the bead necklaces. Try the following ideas with your toddler:

–       Sorting them into containers according to the colors

–       Pouring them into a container

–       Tipping them out

–       Putting them on and taking them off their neck

–       Walking over them with their bare feet

–       Rolling different toys over them

Occupational Therapy Tips:

Encourage crossing midline. This can be done by positioning beads to the side of their body. As they go for the beads encourage grasping them with the opposite hand. For example use right hand to grasp the necklaces on the left side of their body and vice versa.

What is crossing midline?

We all have an imaginary midline running down the center of our bodies. In order for us to effectively coordinate both sides of our body we need to be able to cross that imaginary line.

Being able to cross your midline assists with developing hand dominance and bilateral coordination (ability to use both hands).

4. Zippers and Buckles Play


Skills Developed

Targeted Senses

Fine motor skills (manipulation and strengthening), eye hand coordination Tactile, vision and proprioceptive senses

How to Play:

Provide opportunities for your toddler to close and open zippers and buckles.

Zippers: Use suitcases, bags or cushion covers with zippers. Show your toddler how to grasp and pull the zipper. You can even hide surprises in the suitcases or bags for that extra excitement.

Buckles: It may be too hard to open the buckles at this age but closing them is just as fun. They can practice this skill using buckles on high chairs, shopping trolleys, strollers or dressing toys and puzzles.

5. Pinch and lift games

Josh with tongs

Skills developed

Targeted Senses

Fine motor skills (manipulation & hand separation) and eye hand coordination Vision, tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Grab some tongs, containers and pom poms. Teach your toddler how to hold and squeeze tongs. Then let them experiment by picking up pom poms and transferring them from one container to the next.

Pom poms are great as they can be squished and won’t slip away when picked up.

6. Messy Play: Fun with mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes fun

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Fine motor skills, eye hand coordination and motor planning Tactile; visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Equipment: mashed potatoes, food coloring, variety of containers and utensils.

First, boil your potatoes. Then mash, and add food coloring. I like to divide the potatoes so I can use more than one color. It is also fun watching them mix them up and see how colors change.

When mashing the potatoes, don’t worry about doing a perfectly smooth mash. A few lumps are good for the extra sensation.

You can get really creative with what you can do here. Some examples include:

–       Explore with hands

–       Explore with feet

–       Manipulate the potatoes with a variety of objects or utensils

–       Move between containers

–       Find hidden objects

–       You can create large balls/towers/shapes and they can squish and destroy them

7. Sorting

Sorting colors

Let’s get your toddler familiar with ‘same’ and ‘different’. This can be done through sorting different objects. It’s best to start sorting either by colors or shapes.

All you need are objects that you want sorted and containers to put them in.

If sorting by color ensure you have containers of different colors. Another option is to cut out colored paper or color the bottom of the containers.

If sorting by shape, its best to place one of the objects into the container for a physical prompt.

So how to get started?

Example: Sorting by colors

1. Prepare your containers and objects that your little one will be sorting.

2. Start with no more then 2 colors. Let’s say blue and red.

3. Place blue objects in front of the blue container and red objects in front of the red container. This will help with the color association. Make sure you also name the colors. This will need to be repeated throughout the activity.

4. Start practicing sorting in this set up.

5. Once they master above set up you can mix up the colors.

6. Then you can start adding more colors

Have fun and don’t rush it!


8. Lacing

Josh lacing beads

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Fine motor skills and eye hand coordination Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Equipment: Large lacing beads or dry penne pasta, pipe cleaners

Lacing requires lots of skill so ensure you give your little one time to practice. Grading is the key to this task. At this age the traditional lacing beads and string will be too hard to manipulate.

So if you have some lacing beads at home put the string to the side. Take out some pipe cleaners and use those instead. These will make it much easier for your toddler’s hands to manipulate and succeed.

Don’t have any lacing beads at home? Not a problem! Grab some penne pasta from your local supermarket and get your toddler to lace them instead.

To teach them, find a quiet place to help your toddler’s focus. Show your toddler how to do it by demonstrating it to them. If they are unable to succeed with your demonstration, you may try hand over hand to get them started.

9. Get to know your emotions

It is very important for your child to have a large emotional vocabulary. This includes both positive and negative emotions. By being able to name and recognize an emotion you are able to better understand it. When you understand your emotions you can then regulate them better. Research shows that children with behavioral difficulties know less “feeling” words. This means: let’s talk emotions to reduce behavioral difficulties later on!!

At this age you are just starting to build foundations. Don’t expect your toddler to be able to recognize their emotions yet. However, start making it a habit to name emotions around and to your toddler. Here are few ways of how to do it:

–       Label different feeling when reading books. Any book will do.

–       Use specific feeling books such as ‘When Sophie Gets Angry‘, ‘The Way I Feel‘ or ‘On Monday When It Rained

–       Label your own emotions as you experience them.

–       Label your toddler’s emotions as they experience them.

–       Make sure you always include both negative and positive emotions.

10. Fun with balls

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Gross motor skills including balance, eye foot coordination and eye hand coordination Tactile, visual, vestibular and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

To keep your little one motivated, it’s nice to have different types of balls. You can have small and large balls. You can also play with light and heavy balls. Each ball can challenge your toddler in different ways.

For example, when using balls of different weights, your toddler will be using their proprioceptive sense. This sense will help them figure out how much force is required to hold, throw and kick a ball.

What to do with the ball? The sky is the limit! You can start with throwing and kicking. You can play indoors or outdoors. Throw or kick the ball to each other or at a target. Maybe they can throw at something that can be knocked down. Things such as empty plastic bottles are great.

Have fun and keep expanding on the above ideas. Remember to follow your child’s lead.


There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 17 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 child 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.

❮ 16 month activities 18 month activities ❯
Month 14: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 14 month old

Month 14: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 14 month old

Hello everyone!! It’s Josh again! I’m 14 months old now. This month has been lots of fun! I have been closely watching my parents. They have so much fun doing things around the house that I have decided to imitate them. I enjoy cooking, sweeping and vacuuming. I also love to climb … onto things, into things and over things. Baskets, boxes, tables, chairs, cushions, couches are a few of my favorite toys. Going outside is also so much fun! I take my push cart along. It’s fun picking up rocks and sticks and taking them for a ride.

Until next month…

Lots of smiles, Josh

I hope you enjoyed Josh’s 14th month story. I send these monthly updates to our family in Australia. Look out for more stories in the monthly activities posts.

Raking in the garden

Sensory Play for a Healthy Sensory Lifestyle

With each day your toddler is becoming more independent. You can finally start being more productive during the day. Doing some of your own work. But when playing with your toddler, don’t forget to slow down and always be in the moment. Be present when playing and interacting with them. This will not only strengthen your bond but also build some amazing memories.

Here are my top 10 sensory activities for your 14 month old toddler.
As always, these activities have been tried-and-tested.

Top 10 sensory activities

1. Exploring the outdoors

This one is a must! So much to see and so much to do. The opportunities for sensory experiences and growth are endless. Get your toddler out from the carrier or a stroller onto the ground to explore. Whether it’s at a park, a playground or a beach. The sensory system will be fed with lots of ‘sensory food’ from the environment. Check out my post on exploring the outdoors for specific play ideas.

2. Pushing games


Pushing cart

You might have noticed your toddler’s interest in pushing and pulling things. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stroller, a cart or a wagon. If it can be pushed or pulled then it’s a hit. If your toddler is learning how to walk this activity can help them get steadier on their feet. If your child is a more confident walker you can let them explore pushing on different surfaces. It can range from grass, sand, tin bark or uneven dirt. Pushing will help them: scan their environment, avoid obstacles and maneuver around them.

A push toy is also great at practicing squatting. You can encourage this skill by placing motivating objects on the ground. As your child pushes their toy they can bend down and pick those items up and place them in their push toy. It can be a doll that’s picked up and placed into a stroller or a rock placed into a wagon. Follow your child’s lead and you will find out what motivates them.

 3. Pulling games

This task is more complicated than pushing. It involves your toddler holding their arm behind them. Instead of just looking forward he will also need to look back to make sure his toy is still there. There are many pull toys on the market but you can also make your own. One of our favorites in the house was pulling along a balloon on a string. My son loved pulling it along behind him when walking or crawling up onto the furniture to see what the balloon would do. The excitement was long lasting and fun to watch. Make sure you supervise your child at all times during this activity as strings pose a strangulation risk!

4. Fun with Blocks

Let’s pull out those blocks and have some fun! Bigger blocks are better, but are not necessary.

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Hand eye coordination, fine motor skills and language skills. Visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular (as your toddler moves from lying, to sitting, to standing positions).

How to play

Get down on the floor with your toddler. Start simple. Build a tower or a wall. Describe what you do. ‘I’m building a tower… let’s put the yellow block on top of the blue block… going higher and higher’. Then comes the fun part – demolition! Your toddler might start on the demolition part before you get to your third block. No problem. Start the process again. As much as your toddler will love destroying your creation encourage him to also stack the blocks with you.

5. Experimenting with weight

Carrying heavy bucket

This is another sensory activity where you can let your imagination run wild. Also follow your child’s lead as they might have some fun tips on how to play.

Skills developed

Targeted Senses

 Strengthening of upper body, including shoulders, arms and hands. While using objects of various weights their proprioceptive sense gets a workout.

How to play

Filling buckets with water or sand and carrying them from one location to the next. You can get your toddler to help you out with your groceries. My son loves picking up bags of potatoes and relocating them to another location in the house. Pushing or pulling a full laundry basket is another one. Maybe filling an empty box or carrying those massive body wash bottles around.

6. Mirror mirror on the wall who’s the funniest of them all?

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Body awareness: knowing where our body is in space and motor planning: this involves planning what to do and how to do it. Visual, auditory, proprioceptive and vestibular senses.

How to play

This is an imitation game. Best to play when you are sitting opposite each other (high chair or floor), or in front of the mirror. Take turns in imitating each other. You can start by sticking out your tongue or raising your hands high above your head. When they copy you cheer them up. The possibilities are endless. Have fun with it, be silly! Your toddler might end up just laughing but that’s ok. Then you swap and copy him. He might be quite surprised to see what you are trying to do.

7. Ripping games

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Fine motor skills, strengthening of the hand muscles, hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination (ability to coordinate both hands). Visual, auditory, tactile and proprioceptive senses.

How to play

Let your toddler free and allow them to rip paper. Any paper will do: construction paper; tissue paper; magazines; newspapers. Anything goes. If you toddler is having a hard time you can help them out by starting a small rip and then letting them follow through to the end. You can then have fun picking up the pieces and throwing them into the trash.

8. Bubble Fun

Who doesn’t love bubbles. They are so much fun!

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Hand eye coordination, foot eye coordination, balance.  Visual, tactile and vestibular senses.

How to play

You can start blowing bubbles and have your little one pop them. They can use their finger or their hand. Also encourage them to use their feet to stomp them. This will also help with their balance. While popping bubbles you can sing songs or play music. If you are outside they may need to do a little more chasing around.

9. Messy Play

Playing in jelly Playing with noodles

The main goal of this sensory activity is to explore different textures and stimulate the tactile system. Textures can be soft, hard, slimy, slippery, wet or dry. Your toddler can explore with their hands or even feet. Stomping their feet through mess can be fun. They may even try putting things in their mouth. That is why I would recommend playing with only non-toxic items. Edible items are best.

Ideas for messy play can include jelly, flour, noodles, quinoa, soft foods (avocado, banana, sweet potatoes), pudding, cheerios etc.

How to play:

  1. Choose location and container. The mess can be spread through a bathtub, a plastic container or a small plastic kiddie pool.
  2. Choose the ‘messy’ item. You can pick from any of my ideas listed above or come up with your own.
  3. You can add to the fun by giving them cups or spoons. They can fill and dump. You can also hide things such as small plastic animals and they have to dig through to find them.
  4. Clean up. Make sure to involve your toddler in the process.

10. Bath time fun with sponges

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Strengthening the small muscles in their hands, hand eye coordination.  Tactile, visual, auditory and proprioceptive.

How to play

You can use kitchen sponges for this activity. Cut them into halves or into different shapes (circle, square or a triangle). Show your toddler how to sink them, watch them fill up with water and then use those hands to squeeze the water out. You can vary the activity by squeezing the water out and letting it flow into a container. They can squeeze the sponge against the wall and watch the water flow down.


There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 14 month old toddler. Many exciting activities you can do today to help your child develop better.

These are a few activities that are bound to spark other ideas. Just remember that every new sensory experience is helping your child’s growth and development.

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

For feedback or further questions please leave a comment below.

~ 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.

❮ 13 month activities 15 month activities ❯