Sensory play is so important for children, as they explore and learn about the world. Use these fun sensory tubs ideas, to make easy sensory play activities for babies, toddlers, and beyond!
What is a sensory tub?
Very simply, a sensory tub is a container of some kind, filled with a variety of materials that encourage children to explore with all their senses. You don’t need any special equipment, and because they are so easy to make, you can keep changing the contents to offer your children lots of interesting experiences.
How to make a sensory tub
This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
There are three basic components to a sensory tub:
One: a container. You’ll need something large enough to hold a variety of items, but shallow enough to allow your child to be able to reach inside and explore. We most often use a plastic under-the-bed storage box, but a cardboard box, washing up bowl, paddling pool, purpose-made sand and water table, or even the bath tub can all be good alternatives. For ideas on container choices, take a look here.
Two: a base material. You can just pop your sensory items in the tub on their own, but using a base material turns the sensory tub into a lucky-dip treasure hunt, where your child can dig down inside and discover hidden goodies. Materials that make good base materials include water, rice, pasta (both dried or cooked), sand, mud, oat flakes, shredded paper, grass clippings, leaves…
Three: added extras! Try to include a rich variety of materials within the tub, so your child can explore using all their senses. You can add things with different textures, smells, shapes, colours and sizes. Anything goes, so long as the items are safe to handle and you know your child will enjoy playing with them. You can print of this poster of ‘loose parts’ ideas for suggestions, and take a look at tubs featured below for ideas.
Sensory tub ideas
You can use sensory tubs for the pure delight of exploring the senses, as a way to calm or stimulate children, and also for maths, literacy and imaginary play. Here are some suggestions to try.
You might like to give your sensory tub a theme, perhaps including things that are all the same colour, or the same shape.
You could make a sight word sensory tub with hidden letters inside.
Or try using a sensory tub for storytelling, like this Three Bears tub.
Sensory tubs are still great for older children too. Try learning spelling in a sensory tub full of coloured salt.
A sensory tub can be a particularly useful activity when you need to transition from one time to another, such as coming home from school or before bed time. Give this zingy lemon sensory tub, or this relaxing bedtime lavender tub a try.
Get my Super Sensory Starter Kit for free
Every child deserves to be have their needs met so they can thrive. That’s why I’ve made you my free Super Sensory Starter Kit.
Do you feel like your child is measured too early against unrealistic standards and you know they need more sensory input, more fun, and more hands-on activities?
Maybe you're a parent who wants to get your child away from a screen and into active play. Or you have a special sensory child who needs their own sensory diet.
Maybe you're a childminder or a nanny who needs to balance activities for a range of ages, with a tiny budget for materials.
Perhaps you're a teacher who truly wants to have a play-based classroom, but you're already stressed by the demands of observations and administration. Or perhaps you're a therapist or specialist who needs ideas that colleagues and parents can use.
My free Super Sensory Starter Kit will give you the tools you need to successfully tune-in to your child and help them be happier, calmer, and more successful at learning and life.
So I can send you the best resources, please tell me which of the following categories best describes you: