Through tactile play activities, our kids can engage with their environment by touching ✋🏼 objects by hand and feeling the shapes and textures to help them improve their fine motor skills and aid in socio-emotional development.
Tactile activities are essential for kids from an early age to stimulate their senses and help them discover the world. I found that it helped my son in many ways. If you are a parent looking for ways to engage your kids in tactile play, you are at the right 💯 place!
Interesting Tactile Activities for Your Kids
I believe hands-on activities are essential to give kids opportunities to participate in tactile play and learning to help them discover things from a new perspective and through touch and feel.
You can do this with activities that keep your kids busy and also ensure they have a good time.
In this blog post, I have included a list of fun and engaging tactile activities for your kids. 😁
Engage with a Sensory Bin
I would say that sensory bins are a popular way to promote tactile play and let your kids nurture their senses and feel a sense of calmness.
Fill a large container 📤 with a sensory material of choice like sand, salt, rice, water, shaving cream, soap foam, water beads, ice cubes, and so on, along with small toys and other objects to make a sensory bin.
You can make a sensory bin for your kids and add some items like scoops and spoons to let them discover textures and have fun playing with the materials.
Playing with playdough is one of my son’s favorite pastimes, as it brings him so much happiness and allows him to be creative and use his imagination.
You can give your kids playdough in different colors to roll, shape, knead, flatten, and mold the clay into various kinds of creative and fun shapes and figures.
I also give my son a variety of tools like toy rolling pins, cookie cutters, crinkle cutters, stamps, and so on to make the activity more fun for him.
While they use their hands to feel the texture and play around with the playdough, they engage in a tactile experience, which also helps them strengthen their finger muscles and fine motor skills.
I made homemade playdough at home for my son with flour, salt, food coloring of choice, warm water, and vegetable oil, and you can try it, too.
Play with Slime
You can let your kids play with slime and engage in tactile play by using their hands to touch and feel the textures of the slime material.
My son loves playing with slime, and it helps kids improve their fine motor skills and stimulates their senses as they knead and pull the slime.
You can make homemade slime by following a simple step-by-step tutorial. The ingredients needed include clear glue, water, food coloring of choice, baking soda, and saline solution. You can find accurate measurements on the Internet to try making a batch of slime your kids can play using.
Play with Shaving Cream
My son loved playing with shaving cream 🧴 because of its smooth and airy texture and how it felt in his hands.
You can fill a walled tray with shaving cream and let your kids play with the cloud-like foam. The texture of the cream makes it fun for kids to touch and handle while offering them a tactile experience.
Engage with Everyday Textures
I recommend you encourage your kids to engage with the different textures of objects they see 👀 around them. I would say you can get them to feel materials with textures of soft, rough, rigid, silky, and so on.
Encourage them to take time to feel the texture of everyday items – the mud in the garden, the food they eat, the water as they wash their hands, the fabric of the sofa they sit on and the clothes they wear, the playdough clay and the Lego blocks, and so on.
You can let them explore the textures of items they interact with daily in their surroundings to offer a tactile experience.
Play with Bubble Wrap
My son loves playing with bubble wrap, and these wraps offer endless hours of play with its unique texture, which is great for tactile play and is oddly satisfying, too.
You can save the bubble wrap from your next order packaging and let your kids engage in tactile play – pop the visible bubbles in the wrap and explore the squishy texture it has.
I would say that bubble wraps can calm kids and keep their little fingers busy as they try to pop all the visible bubbles on the sheet.
Blow and Pop Bubbles
If your kids love blowing bubbles as much as my son does, then I am sure they will enjoy this simple yet fun activity of blowing and popping bubbles.
You can get your kids to blow bubbles, watch them float in the air, and try to pop them with their hands. This lets them engage in tactile play and is also a great way to keep them entertained and excited.
Child experts also recommend blowing bubbles as a way to help kids develop their fine motor skills and oral motor skills.
Engage with Nature
Nature 🌳 offers kids countless opportunities for tactile play and helps nurture their senses and explore various textures.
You can make your kids run barefoot in the grass to feel its texture and also run their fingers over objects like stones, dry leaves, flowers, sticks, barks, pine cones, and so on found in nature.
My son loves engaging in tactile play outdoors in the natural world, and this helps him connect better with natural surroundings and observe more.
Trace with Squish Bags
I recommend you give your kids squish bags 👝 for them to enjoy a mess-free tactile experience. There were days that my son would prefer the squish bags over touching sensory materials with his hand, so this came in handy.
You can fill a ziplock bag with a thin layer of liquid like shaving cream, shower gel, glue, paint, or a slurry of flour and water. Make sure you seal it well to prevent the liquid from leaking.
These squish bags are perfect for your kids to practice their pre-writing strokes, write letters and numbers, draw shapes on the surface of the ziplock bags, or engage in sensory play.
Play with Kinetic Sand
Kinetic sand is soft and crumbly play sand that can still hold its shape well. Your kids can shape, squeeze, twist, mold, and roll the kinetic sand to nurture their senses, engage in sensory play, and have a great time.
You can give your kids some kinetic sand to play with, which I would say is oddly satisfying for kids due to the nature of the sand. I recommend you let them indulge in this calming tactile experience.
I would say kinetic sand can be molded like you would with wet sand but without it being actually wet. Unlike regular dry sand, this kind of sand leaves no mess and involves less cleaning after your kids are done playing!
I made homemade kinetic sand with my son using a 5:3:1 ratio of sand, flour/cornstarch, and oil.
Engage with a Sandbox
I recommend you let your kids engage in tactile play with a sandbox for them to play with the sand, which is also a great sensory material.
You can invest in a sandbox or make your own by filling a walled container with a layer of dry or kinetic sand. To make the activity more fun, add sand toys, buckets, shovels, and scoops, and let your kids have fun exploring the textures of the sand.
My son loved building sandcastles in the sandbox in our backyard, which reminded him of the beach.
Play a Texture Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are so much for kids to participate in and a game that encourages them to be aware of their surroundings to find 🔎 the needed elements to complete the game.
You can prepare a checklist with the names of different textures – smooth, rough, hard, soft, silky, rigid, and so on. Your kids can try to find matching items with the desired textures to complete the scavenger hunt.
I guarantee your kids will have fun looking for textures as they touch different items and can also engage in a tactile experience while playing this fun game.
Find Hidden Toys
I guarantee your kids will love doing this activity as they search for toys hidden inside sensory materials.
Choose a few small toys 🚂 from the toy collections of your kids. You can place them in a sensory bin with sensory materials like salt, sand, rice, shaving cream, soap foam, and so on. You can also put them in a box filled with objects of various sizes, textures, and shapes.
Now for the best and most fun element of the game – your kids can go through the sensory bin or objects box with their fingers to touch the objects and try to find all their toys while also engaging in a tactile activity.
You can also do the same activity with other smaller items around the house instead of their toys.
Engage with Texture Cards
Texture cards are so easy to make and give your kids a tactile experience as they run their fingers along the different materials and their textures.
You can cut thick cardboard into small-sized individual cards. Glue various sensory items on these cards, like rice, salt, sand, pasta, beans, fabric pieces, felt pieces, velcro, coins, bubble wrap, shells, and so on.
I found my son loved playing with these texture cards, which helped nurture his senses and provide him with a tactile-rich experience.
I made pairs of various texture cards 🎴 for my son to play a matching card game to match similar textures together.
To make the game more fun, I instructed my son to close his eyes and sort and match the cards only by touching them.
Make a Tactile Object Box
You can make a tactile box 📦 with small objects with different types of textures. Allow your kids to touch and feel the various textures to nurture their senses.
I recommend making your kids collect various items from around the house to place in the box. You can add fabrics, coins, buttons, textured papers, beads, soft toys, and so on.
Instruct them to feel the textures and name them as a fun activity.
You can involve your little ones in the kitchen 👩🏽🍳🧑🏽🍳 to engage them in a tactile activity and also assist you.
You could say it is similar to playing with playdough, but here, kids can try to work with the dough that goes into making their favorite pizza or bread.
When a recipe calls for making dough, I recommend you combine the ingredients to form a lump of sorts and then guide your kids to help you knead and stretch the dough as a fun activity they will enjoy.
Initially, you could give them a smaller batch of dough to knead to make it easier and then move on to letting them work with larger quantities.
My son would knead first and then let me take over to finish the process.
Play with Cloud Dough
You can make cloud ☁️ dough at home with just two ingredients, and it has a soft and light texture, which makes it exciting for your kids to play with.
I involved my son in making the cloud dough with equal parts of cornstarch and hair conditioner and combined them to get a smooth dough-like consistency.
Create Art with Finger Painting
Things might get messy with this fun art activity that promotes tactile play. Your kids can get creative and try doing finger painting to create art.
Cover the working surface with newspaper to prevent paint marks. Place a sheet of paper and let your kids dip their fingertips in paint 🎨 and freely create various designs and patterns on the paper.
Play with Water
My son loves the water 💦 and has always enjoyed splashing and playing with the water. You can try the same with your kids if they love playing with water, too.
You can fill a baby pool or bathtub with water, add rubber ducks, plastic balls, cups, and other toys, and let your kids play as much as they like. You can also do this with buckets filled with water and let them scoop, pour, and splash around.
My son loved doing these activities, and they provided him with a sensory-rich and hands-on experience. I guarantee your kids will love these engaging yet fun activities.
I hope you enjoyed reading the above activities to promote tactile play and found some fun activity ideas to do with your kids.
Please leave a comment if you have any ideas to share or any doubts for me to solve – I would love to hear your feedback! 😊
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.