News & Events Summer Sensory Play Ideas

Summer Sensory Play Ideas

By Ceris Devereux Registered Dietitian

Some parents can be hesitant about messy play ideas due to, well the mess.  With the change in weather comes the opportunity for your child to spend more time playing outdoors. So the mess stays outside too.

Getting messing is a great way for young children to explore new smells, sounds, sights and textures. Using food for messy play also gives the opportunity to taste.   We know that the more a child has the chance to explore foods, without any pressure to eat that food, the more comfortable they will feel to try new foods at mealtimes.

We’re going to discover some messy play idea’s you can do inside or outside with your child using very basic ingredients.

These activities are ideal for children aged 1-5 years, and remember not to leave your child unattended while doing any of these activities.

Snowy Flour

Pretend flour is snow and enjoy making patterns or sprinkle to make a snow shower. You can also add some toys to have fun in the snow too.

If your child is new to messy play or if sensitive with textures it can be a good idea to start with  a dryer consistency.

Depending on the age of your child you may want to sprinkle some flour into the tray/ mat or if they are older get them to hold the sieve while you pour the flour.

You will need:

  • Tray or matting
  • Flour
  • Sieve or colander
  • Toys to hide


  1. Spread the flour out so they have plenty of opportunity to make patterns or draw in the flour.
  2. Hide toys with the aim of trying to find them.
  3. Encourage them to shake the sieve/colander and get messy.

Foamy Fun

This is a great activity to involve your child in an activity which gets a bit wetter and stickier. The vibrant colours of the paint give a real visual experience. It can be great to mix colours and see the changes that happen.

You will need:

  • Tray/bowl
  • Shaving foam
  • Paint
  • Toys


  1. Simply squirt some shaving foam around the tray or bowl
  2. Add some blobs of different colour paints
  3. Encourage your child to mix the paint with the shaving foam to cream different colours.
  4. You could also hide toys to encourage your child to get stuck in.

Scented Splash Play

This is a super fun activity for young explorers who don’t mind getting wet. It stimulates their senses exposing them to smells, textures and tastes. By adding toys or cups they can practice their pouring developing their motor skills. You could also freeze your foods eg sliced cucumber and oranges to add an extra cold element, great for hot days.

You will need:

  • Tray/bowl
  • Water
  • Scents
  • Freezer (optional)


  1. Add cold water to your tray or bowl.
  2. Add children’s toys, cups, spoons and pots.
  3. Add you’re a small amount of your chosen scents e.g a few slices of orange and cucumber.

Scent Ideas:

  • Sliced oranges
  • Sliced lemons
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Dried herbs
  • Fresh herbs e.g mint leaves