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Easy Sensory Trays for Kids

There is a range of ways to introduce sensory activities to your child.

The most manageable and easiest way to help your child engage and activate her senses is with a sensory tray. All you need is a tray and things from around your home and garden.

A tray or shallow bin or basket in monochromatic plastic or wood works best because it will not distract from the items within and ideally, it will be small enough for the child to carry herself.


  • flowers, leaves, herbs
  • pinecones, seed pods, acorns, nuts
  • rocks
  • twigs. bark
  • twine, wool
  • coral, shells
  • rice
  • ribbon
  • fabric (felt, silk, linen, velvet, denim, satin, canvas)
  • strung beads
  • leather
  • metal keys

tray, shallow box or basket

Multicraft Paintable Tray Set

Ikea Godmorgan Storage set Wooden Tray Medium Wooden Tray


  • children should be supervised, especially toddlers who are still mouthing toys
  • include in the tray enough objects to keep the interest of the child
  • 3-7 items is a good number for 1-3 years old
  • add more items and use a larger tray for 4+
  • leave enough room between objects so that the child can freely compare and contrast
  • different colors, materials, textures, weights, sizes, smells, sounds and lengths should be grouped together for diversity
  • after allowing your child to explore on her own, ask her questions about the items
    • which flowers/plants have a scent? which do not?
    • what colors can you name that are represented in the tray?
    • can you pull apart the wool and compress it again?
    • how does it feel to run your fingers along the bark of the twig?
    • can you disentangle the string?
    • is the pebble warm or cool in your hand?
    • which is heavier the wool or the coral?
    • what is the longest object tin the tray? the largest? the shortest? the smallest?
    • which objects are from the ocean? from an animal? from a plant?


  • dried pasta, beans, peas
  • loofah
  • tissue paper, cotton balls​
  • ball of yarn
  • bell
  • miniature gourd, avocado pit
  • fennel fronds, lavender flowers
  • cinnamon stick
  • include a magnifying glass for the older child or a microscope


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