My boys (now age 3 and 18mths) and I have been exploring different sensory play activities over the past year or so. While they often get very excited about the latest activity we are trying out, there are a few favorites that we always go back to. These are also the items that I have packaged into ready-to-play sets here in this online store, combining the sensory material with tools and accessories that we have found to work best with each activity. Hope you and your children enjoy these activities as much as mine!
Rainbow rice: This is similar to playing with sand, but cleaner, less messy, and a lot more colorful! My kids enjoy scooping and pouring the rainbow rice using different containers, as well as playing with funnels and the special wheel I made for them (and included in the play set!) More recently, we've been playing hide and seek with our alphabet and number toys, and my #2 is starting to be able to identify them as he picks them up!
Water beads: My kids simply love the sensation of these squishy little balls and can sit for long sessions just running their fingers through the tub, pouring water beads from one container to the next and making pretend rainbow drinks and soups. I myself love the colors of the beads and often join the boys and occupy myself by picking out beads of particular colors to make pretty layers of colors in clear containers.
Play dough: This can keep the boys occupied for hours and is my favorite go-to activity when I need to get some work done. My boys are already well acquainted with all the tools in their play dough box and can pretty much play with very little supervision. The older boy loves cutting out shapes and letters with our cookie cutter collection and 'making noodles' with the extruder, coming up with different stories and explanations for his creations. The younger boy likes to roll the dough into balls and make little aliens or monsters by sticking the plastic body part and accessories into the balls. He often also tries to do the same things as his older brother, and while he is obviously less adept, I am amazed at what he can do already (eg. he can roll out the dough and cut out shapes from the play dough without any assistance).