Sensory play is an imperative piece to the early childhood development puzzle. I’ve curated a gift guide of sensory toys that your kiddos might absolutely love! I’ve got a little description plus a link for each below. Black Friday is a week away, and I don’t know about you but I LIVE for a good deal! Naturally, I love to shop early to take advantage of the best sales and cross as much off my list before the full busyness of the holiday season sinks in. So check these out because at the time of posting, a lot of these are on sale!
Please know that some of these links are affiliate links, meaning if you shop through them I will receive a commission at no cost to you. However, a lot of these toys we already own or I plan to buy — so I assure you I am only linking things I truly believe in!
Magic Swirl Kaleidoscope
This kaleidoscope kit comes with everything you need to make a super fun sensory tube. I love the Creative Kids brand because it’s affordable and what’s advertised on the box is truly what your child will be able to create. No Pinterest fails here! Sensory tubes can be very calming and relaxing. It’s perfect for kids who love to visually stim, and keeps them off the screens while holding their interest! You can find these kits on Amazon, at Walmart, Mastermind Toys and Toys R Us.
The Smart Cookie
We are excited to add The Smart Cookie to our library. We currently have The Bad Seed and The Good Egg, which are two of my kids’ favorites. These stories are fun and whimsical and get everyone laughing. It’s no wonder this series has taken off and continues to make bestseller lists time and time again. If you don’t have a book from this series, I highly recommend checking it out! If you’re not sure how to make the most of your child’s experience with books, check out Bluefish Learning. They are literacy experts and are one of the best resources ever for fostering your child’s love of reading.
Empty Sensory Play Bottles
Whyyyy would I suggest empty sensory bottles you ask? Well, some kiddos are very particular about what they like and more importantly, what they don’t like. When you get a ready-to-make or pre-made kit your child may be turned off by some of the components. These bottles are completely customizable, so you can add whatever floats your boat! There are different types of lids so you can focus on sight or smell.
Not sure what to put in a sensory bottle? Here is a great resource to inspire you!
Air Rocket Launcher
My son received this air rocket launcher for his birthday this summer. It has become a huge favorite in our house. The kids have such a good time trying to see who can launch the rockets the highest. The lights in the rockets add another fun element during our dark winter nights–they almost look like shooting stars! My only warning with this toy is to take it to an open space. If you live in close quarters to your neighbors, these rockets can easily end up over the fence and or on your roof!
Playdoh Sensory Play Kit
When I was a young parent I absolutely loathed the thought of sensory play. It just seemed like a completely inconvenient mess. But now that I’ve learned more, it is sincerely one of the few things I wish I could get a do-over on. On the surface, it doesn’t look all that impressive, but I assure you it is doing amazing things for your child’s development. You may also be extremely surprised by your childs’ level of interest. There is nothing boring about Run Wild Play Kits (which are made right here in Edmonton). The owner, Jamie, is a registered psychologist who works with young children. Each kit is thoughtfully crafted to ensure your child is engaged and receives incredible developmental benefits. This gardening kit is my daughter’s favorite.
3D Printed Toys
The future has arrived! Designed, created and printed right here in Edmonton, Jack and Sully Co makes some of the most innovative toys on the market. Made from plant based renewable materials, these nontoxic eco friendly toys are perfect for every use you can think of. Bury them in dirt, give them a bath, take them to the beach, freeze them in ice overnight and excavate them the next day. There is nothing these small and mighty toys can’t handle. My favorite are the woodland animals but check them out on Instagram to see all the possibilities for your little one.
Though they might be the most obnoxious toy of all time, my kids go wild for these water beads. Seriously you don’t have to do anything other than add water and watch them grow. There is something oddly satisfying about the feel of these beads once they absorb water. You can simply place them in a bowl or tray and let your kid swish them around with their hands. It’s mesmerizing! You can also use them as the base for a sensory bin, or simply give them some kitchen spoons and let them go to town!
Canoe Peg Doll Set
Peg dolls are a must have in a Montessori style play room. They’re small enough to encourage fine motor skills and grasp improvement. They also help your child learn shape recognition. Plus, look at these!! They’re so cute! This set really caught my eye because it is such an heirloom piece. You could easily keep these in the family and pass them down for years to come.
In full transparency, I’ve never tried these noodles and I won’t be purchasing them for my kids. However, I know many kids who absolutely love these kinds of sensory toys. They’re great for increasing hand strength, the colours are so fun, and the packaging is super cute. Much like the water beads I mentioned above, these are one of those things that can be hard to wrap your mind around the appeal until you’ve allowed your kids to try them. My son has never loved fidget toys like this, or poppits, so I’ll pass on this one. But if you have a kid who is into those kinds of things, this might be an awesome new one for them to try!
Inclusivity should start in the toy box. If you’re exposing your child to differences organically as they grow, they’re more likely to be compassionate toward others. Adding inclusive toys, books, and other resources to your child’s home is the simplest way to start the conversation around diversity. This wheelchair toy is hand crafted in Canada, and the peg person is glued in so it’s not a choking hazard for kids who love to put things in their mouths.
Rice Sensory Play Kit
If playdoh and water beads aren’t your thing, rice sensory bins make a good alternative. Yes rice can be messy, but it is so easy to sweep up and it never dries out. If you’re like me and want to let the bin sit out all day long without worrying if the playdoh was restored, or if the water beads are getting moldy, rice is the low key easiest sensory bin of all. This one is so cute for those construction lovers!
Hand strength is imparitive to fine motor skills. This ball popper was, and remains, one of the favorite toys to ever come out of a therapist tool kit at our home. These ball poppers can shoot FAR so be prepared. Luckily the balls are very soft, so there’s no stress about your decor getting knocked over, or someone losing an eye. There are many of these on the market in tons of different styles, so keep a look out when you’re doing your holiday shopping.
This game is fun for the whole family. You don’t want to be the one who pulls the carrot that causes Jack to jump! The concept is simple enough for most kids to get, and once they realize the rabbit can fly up into the sky, I bet they’ll be hooked. Games like these are perfect for teaching turn taking and patience. There are so many versions of this including Pop the Pig, Pop Up Pirate, Buckaroo (a bucking horse) that you’ll surely be able to find one when you’re out doing your holiday shopping. The prices online seem higher than they are in store.
Sensory swings are awesome for kids who get overwhelmed and like to have their alone time, and for sensory seeking kids. If you don’t feel comfortable allowing them to go to an unsupervised space on their own, this is a great alternative to have in a main area of the house. Easily take it down and set it up with the included carabiner. We have yet to purchase one of these, but I am trying to convince my husband that our son needs it for Christmas lol. Wish me luck!
Osmo Starter Kit
We purchased an Osmo kit four or five years ago for our son for Christmas. It’s one of those things that goes away for a little while and then makes its way back out again. All of my kids love returning to it over and over. Through their tablet, your child will co-create with Mo the Monster. Once they draw or arrange shapes on the included drawing pad, Mo pulls their creation into the tablet and plays with it. It’s really fun and such a cool innovation! Though this link is for iPads, you can purchase Osmo for a variety of tablets here.
Hope this gets you inspired to include sensory play in your holiday shopping!