Month 20: Top 10 Sensory Activities for 20 month toddler

Josh with shaving cream

8 min read

As an Occupational Therapist and a Mom I have put together top activities for your 20 month old toddler. These activities will focus on strengthening their cognitive (mind) and motor (movement) development.

As my pal Gordie always says “If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with great chefs.” And that’s exactly what I did.
I’ve been stalking mom cooking in the kitchen for some time now. It first started when I got my climbing ladder. Peeking into the pots as she stirred, boiled and created mouth watering magic. Then, as I got taller I could sneak a peek closer and with more precision. I bet she thought i was just babbling and bouncing around but in fact I was learning. Calculating… 2 cups of water… 1 egg… yep I got it.. this is easier than I thought it might be.
One day, we ventured outside our little castle near the woods. I knew this was time to unleash my inner Chef! There were so many options. I grabbed some stick, stones, leaves, dirt…. lots of dirt! Then, I poured some water into my bucket and one by one I started adding my ingredients. I had so much fun throwing them in and then mixing it all around. Then, I decided I needed more water. I leaned my head back and at the top of my voice shouted “More water”. Mom poured some in but it was not enough. I looked up and voiced again “More!!! More water!”.. then mom gave me that look. Whoops. Gordie always says that “cooking is about passion”.
See you all next month.
— Lots of smiles, Josh

Tactile games are so much fun and very beneficial for sensory processing.  They also help build a foundation for many developmental milestones including both fine and gross motor skills.

Below I have included my top 10 sensory activities for your 20-month toddler. Among them are also many activities focusing on tactile play.

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

Activities for your 20 month old toddler

1. Nature stew

20 month toddler activities: Nature stew
Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Fine motor skills, bilateral coordination & hand eye coordinationVisual & tactile senses
How to Play

On your next nature adventure remember to bring a bucket and a few full bottles of water. After some exploring you can stop and start your cooking lesson. To make the ‘Nature stew’, get your toddler to pour some water into the bucket. Then start collecting surrounding objects such as rocks, sticks, sand, leaves, flowers, grass, acorns. Really, anything that is around will ‘cook’ just fine. Get your toddler to throw in his ‘ingredients’ and stir them around with a spoon (bigger stick). This cooking adventure can keep your toddler entertained for quite a while.

They will see the clear water become muggy from all the sand/dirt. Enjoy all the sounds of the sticks, rocks hitting the sides of the bucket as they stir it around. You can start teaching them about weight by observing heavier objects sink down to the bottom and lighter objects such as grass float at the top.

Enjoy experimenting with your toddler!

2. Floral fun

20 month toddler activities: Flower smashing
Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination & visual perception skillsTactile, proprioceptive & visual senses
How to Play

If you have some flowers at home don’t throw them away as soon as they start to dry out. There are a number of ways that your toddler can play with dry flowers.

  1. Place them onto a mat and have your toddler explore them through the use of their hands or feet. They can squish, stomp or pull them apart.
  2. Stick contact paper (sticky side up) onto a wall. Have your toddler then stick petals or small flower branches onto it to make their creation.
  3. Sort them by color or type.
  4. Once they finish with the contact paper you can roll it up into a batten form (sticky on the outside). Then have your toddler pound the dry flowers to see what will stick to it.
  5. Lastly you can place the flowers into some water and have your toddler explore that way.

3. Potato Stamping

20 month toddler activities: potato stamping
Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Visual perception & hand eye coordination skillsTactile & visual senses
How to play

This is such a fun activity. Cut potatoes in half. Then carve out few shapes. See examples above.

Then let your toddler run wild stamping away.

4. Flying obstacle course

Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Balance, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), body awareness, bilateral coordination, hand and shoulder strength, core strength, trunk control & visual skillsProprioception, vestibular, tactile & visual senses
How to Play

Today’s obstacle course consists of a flying theme. Before you get started make some paper planes for this adventure. When setting up an obstacle course, try to match its complexity to your child’s skill level. Make sure there is some challenge to improve their skills while keeping it fun.

All you need is some pillows, cushions, blankets, tables, chairs and boxes. You and your toddler can start by pretending you are airplanes by spreading your arms out to the side. Help your toddler if they are having trouble imitating you. Start by flying around on the floor and then fly higher and lower by going up and down the furniture. If you fly up small boxes you can start encouraging your toddler to jump down. Then you can fly on bumpy clouds (pillows spread on the floor). Finally fly up really high (on top of the couch or table). You can park your plane there and take out some pre made paper planes. Your toddler can have lots of fun throwing them down and watching them fly.

5. Playing with balls

Balls, balls and more balls! Every toddler loves playing with balls. Throwing, kicking, rolling, inside or outside… everything goes.

Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Hand eye coordination, foot eye coordination, balance, visual perception skills, bilateral skills, timing, sequencing, motor planning & attentionVisual, vestibular, tactile & proprioceptive senses
How to Play

You can try any of these activities:

  1. Simple throwing back and forth with your toddler. Note: Medium size balls of softer density are easier to catch.
  2. Kicking back and forth with your toddler.
  3. While sitting on the floor encourage rolling back and forth.
  4. Target throwing/kicking: Target can include an empty laundry basket, a box, a suitcase, a basketball hoop etc. Depending on your child’s skill they can stand quite close to the target and as their accuracy improves you can start stepping them back. Once your child has good accuracy try raising the target slightly off the floor and see if they can throw it in.

6. Finger paint

Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination & visual perception skillsTactile & visual senses
How to Play

It’s time to wake up all those tactile sensors and have some fun with the paint. You can use any finger paint that you want. I did however include a homemade finger paint recipe below.

I don’t think this activity needs much explanation. Let your toddler explore the colors by drawing on paper or themselves (if it’s nice and warm). If the mess freaks you out just let them go wild with the paint while in the bath or shower. Easy clean up of the environment and them.

Finger Paint Recipe
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • ¾ cup of cornflour
  • 2 cups of water
  • Food coloring
What to do
  1. Mix the dry ingredients (sugar & cornflour)
  2. Split the dry ingredients depending on the amount of colors
  3. In another bowl mix water with the food coloring (split the amount depending on the number of colors. For example if using 4 colors use ½ cup of water for each color)
  4. Combine the two and enjoy!

7. Cup hide and seek

cup and toy
Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Object permanence (Object permanence is the understanding that objects or people still exist even when we can’t see them. Understanding this concept is an important cognitive milestone. To review the specific stages of object permanence, check out the Wikipedia page. )Visual sense
How to Play

Equipment needed: 2 or 3 plastic cups and a favorite toy that will fit inside the cup.

This is a simple game that includes hiding a toy under a cup.

Start by using one cup then increase it to two and then three.

Let your toddler see you hide the toy under the cup. Then ask ‘Where is the toy?’ By this age they should have no problems lifting up the cup to uncover the toy. Then repeat with two cups and then three. If you notice that your toddler is really good at this game try making it more challenging. With the use of two cups hide the toy but then move the cups around. Just like you see in those magic tricks on TV but with fewer cups and MUCH slower speed.

8. Sorting game

20 month toddler activities: sorting lids
Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Visual perception, hand eye coordination & bilateral coordinationVisual sense
How to Play

Find a box, any box. It can be from your last delivery, a cereal box or a shoe box. Then gather together a variety of lids or flat objects (circular shapes are easiest). You should find a few lids of different sizes.

I used a variety of lids from jars and plastic containers. Once you have all your equipment cut out holes that match each of your objects (see picture above).

Then have your toddler try to match each object to the cut out hole.

9. Shaving cream car wash

20 month toddler activities: Shaving cream & cars
Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Hand eye coordination, bilateral skills & motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task)Tactile & visual senses
How to Play

In this game your toddler needs to get their cars dirty and then take them to a car wash.

To make the cars dirty:

  • Put some shaving cream or bubble soap onto a table.
  • Have your toddler explore the shaving cream with their cars. WARNING: They may have so much fun that the shaving cream ends up being splattered around.

To make the cars clean:

  • Have a small container of water ready so they can try and wash them in it.

They may want to repeat this cycle numerous times.

10. Play dough & pasta

pasta and play dough
Skills DevelopedTargeted Senses
Fine motor development including hand strengthening, pincer grasp, finger isolation as well as hand eye coordination & bilateral coordinationTactile & proprioception senses
How to Play

Equipment needed: Play dough and pasta (different shapes and sizes)

You can start this activity by seeing what they will do with the pasta. After a while you can also throw in some ideas for variety.

Let me get you started with the following ideas. You can use the pasta to:

  • Poke play dough with it.
  • Make imprints. The more variety of pasta the more variety of imprits.
  • You can hide smaller pasta in it. The first few times you may need to hide the pasta for them.
  • Once pasta is hidden in play dough your toddler can start digging through it and pull it out.
  • Poking is also fun. Start with them using their pointer finger to make holes in the play dough. Then they can put some pasta in it. Pretending they are making cookies or pizza.
My favorite no–cook Play Dough Recipe
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups of boing water
  • Food coloring
What to do
  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
  2. In another bowl add water and mix it with food coloring
  3. Add both mixtures together
  4. Stir until combined (it still might be sticky)
  5. Allow it to rest
  6. Take it out of the bowl and knead it until the stickiness is gone
  7. If after a few minutes of kneading it’s still sticky then keep adding small amounts of flour. Keep adding until you have reached perfect play dough consistency.


There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 20 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 toddler 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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