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  • Writer's pictureOur Playful Learning Journey

Super Fun and Easy Sensory Play - A simple to set up sensory tray two ways.

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

Why we LOVE sensory play in our home and how to set up a simple tray in 2 different ways. One tray with more expensive loose parts vs a tray with less expensive loose parts (but still lots of fun!)

Kids sensory play tray in Kmart tray with coloured chickpeas
A fun and colourful sensory play tray

We LOVE sensory play in our home! For me the reason is that it always engages Miss 4 in her play for a very long time and because it is very simple and quick to set up. Miss 4 loves it because it is lots of fun!

We enjoy using sensory play when Miss 4 needs an idea of what to play with, when I need 10 minutes to have a hot drink and some quiet, or especially for the dinner prep rush of an evening.

We use our Ikea Flisat table with the tubs underneath for sensory play. We also keep this Kmart tray pictured above on the top of our fridge in the kitchen filled ready to be grabbed down quickly for some engaging play.

Setting up sensory play doesn't need to be complicated. We keep the same bases in our table tubs and in the tray for a long time and change what items are included with them to make it interesting again.

Colourful Chickpea Tray

For this sensory tray we used:

- Coloured chickpeas painted with Crayola metallic paints

- Grapat mandala pieces

- Grimms wooden stacking bowls

- A scoop

It only took a few minutes to put together and kept Miss 4 entertained while I was busy cooking dinner.

Mess Management

To contain the mess, we put a large tray underneath the round tray to catch any spills. Miss 4 played on the dining table to keep the small parts safe and out of reach from her 10 month old sister.

Miss 4 has been doing sensory play for a long time and is very good at keeping it in the tray. For a child who creates a lot of mess - using a large container on the floor, playing outside or using a large sheet underneath to catch the mess is recommended.


This type of activity with small parts is not recommended for small children who are still mouthing. Recommended for ages 3+ with adult supervision.

Clear plastic jars filled with items for baby sensory play
Fun little sensory jars for babies

Baby Sensory Play

For Miss 10 months who also really wanted to join in we filled a couple of little candy jars from Kmart with some of the sensory base, mandala pieces and some flowers.

She happily played on the kitchen floor banging and shaking the jars, while Miss 4 played at the dining room table.

These jars were screwed tightly shut and Miss 10 months was supervised closely while using them, as they contained choking hazards.

Budget Friendly Colourful Chickpea Tray

Some of the pieces used in the tray above are quite expensive to buy, but they are not needed to create an engaging tray. You can achieve the same fun playful experience using items you have around the home

Kids sensory play tray with coloured chickpeas
Sensory play tray another way

This tray is just as fun, but not as expensive to put together.

We used:

- Coloured chickpeas

- Containers from the cupboard to scoop into and fill

- Coloured reusable ice cubes from a discount store

- Pom poms

- A spoon

Play does not need to cost a fortune or look a certain way for it to be engaging and meaningful.

Miss 4 had just as much fun with this sensory tray as the first one. Both trays resulted in the same level of fun and engagement. Play does NOT need to cost a fortune or look a certain way for it to be engaging and meaningful.

Remember - use what you have at home. Play doesn't need to be fancy or look exactly like what someone else has done. Sometimes we as adults get caught up in thinking we have to have exactly the right toys or equipment to help our child play better.

Same tray a different way

Benefits of Sensory Play

A sensory play tray like this one is great for developing:

- Hand eye coordination (scooping and pouring)

- Fine motor skills (picking up small chickpeas etc.)

- Independent play

- Calming play

- Developing vocabulary - scoop, pour, more, full, empty etc.

- For having lots of fun

*All play ideas in this blog post were supervised by an adult. Small parts for ages 3+.

So as you can see, sensory play really is sensational for creating engaging and fun play experiences!

What sensory play will you do today?

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