Dollar Store DIY: Sensory Play Projects For Toddlers

As a mom of a sensory seeking toddler, I’ve finally give in. Instead of letting my kid destroy every box of cereal in the house, or dump bags of flour, or smash eggs - I’ve decided to give him a safe place to work out that energy. And yes, all of those things have happened - and all in the last month.

Sensory-seeking play is a fancy way of saying my kid wants to feel different textures, hear different sounds, and see new and exciting playthings. Some kids are sensory-sensitive. You might notice your own kid doesn’t like playing in sand or water, for example. The same kid might also love squishing play dough in between their fingers.

As a mom on a budget, I hit up my local Dollar Tree - the store where everything is ONE DOLLAR - and picked up a few things to make sensory play more fun for my toddler. It's the time of year for DIY projects, right? Hopefully this means he’ll leave my flour and eggs alone!


Easy, colorful, and loads of fun! via No Time For Flash Cards

Ok, this one is pretty straightforward! I grabbed a pack of foil roasting pans and some jello. It has to set up overnight, so it’s not necessarily “quick”, but I love that this is a really easy “toy”. Plus, if my son eats some while he’s playing with it, I don’t have to worry about it!

Sensory Bins

It's so much fun, they might even crawl into the bin themselves! via Your Kids Table

This is a great option! Easy to make and you can cater the items in the bin to your own child’s interests. Plus, you can use items around your home - which makes this one even cheaper! One of those foil roasting pans filled with a few bags of rice makes this DIY a cinch! Toss in a scoop or two, a few toys, and you’re good to go! I like this one because I can bury some of the toys and then make a list of what’s inside. I’ll send my toddler on a hunt to find a specific thing - “Can you find the dinosaur?” Even without guided play, my kiddo likes feeling the rice in his hands and dumping scoops back into the bin. NOTE: I’ve found it helpful to keep an empty bin nearby for maximum “dumping” pleasure.

Shaving Cream

This one is a double whammy! via Princesses, Pies, & Preschool Pizzazz

This is an oldie but goodie - I played with shaving cream when I was in preschool myself! Mind your kiddos while they play with this one, since shaving cream isn’t edible. My two-and-a-half year old does well with this, for reference. We spread out a layer of shaving cream on the tabletop and let him have at it! He squishes it between his fingers, slaps the table and watches it fly, and even draws in it! When he’s bored, I wipe it up and it leaves my table sparkling clean. Win-win!

Water Painting

Water painting is a great no-mess indoor activity! via Two Clever Moms

This is a great DIY that only takes TWO items from the dollar tree and can last you months! Grab a pack of construction paper. If you’re so inclined, chop the whole ream in half so you have two smaller sheets from each piece of paper. Toss a few brushes to your kid, and give them a cup of water for dipping. “Painting” on the construction paper changes the color and makes their artistic side come to life! Bonus: super easy clean-up and no worries about cleaning anything! This is a favorite indoor activity for the colder months, too!

Sensory play doesn’t have to involve special toys or expensive trips to the museum. In fact, it’s easy to have sensory fun with simple things you can find around the house! Or, on a budget, from the Dollar Tree!


What other cheap and easy ways have you satisfied your own sensory-seeking toddler? Shoot me a few ideas on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #DollarTreeDIY

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