Sensory Play Recipes

Squish! Splash! Smoosh! This suite of recipes and activities provides new ways for young children to play, create and imagine while engaging all their senses.

Age Level: 2 to 6

Supervision Requirements: Setup and cleanup

Soap Foam

Materials & Setup

  • Dish soap (or tear-free baby shampoo)
  • Water
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint (optional)
  • Blender, stand mixer or hand mixer
  • Shallow dishpan or storage tote as a playspace


1. Add 1/2 cup warm water, 1/4 cup dish soap (or tear free baby shampoo), and a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor paint into your blender, stand mixer or bowl.

2. Mix on high 1 – 2 minutes, until the soap has formed stiff peaks.

3. Pour into shallow plastic bin, dishpan or storage tote & add play elements like plastic toys, measuring scoops, spoons or whisks.

Dive in Deeper

  • For rainbow foam, mix up multiple batches of different colors and swirl gently together in the play bin.
  • Set up outdoors or in the bathtub and feel free to get extra messy!
  • When the bubbles pop, you can re-mix for 1-2 minutes to extend play.

Sidewalk Paint

Materials & Setup

  • Corn starch
  • Water
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint
  • Mixing bowl
  • Muffin tin or small cups for each paint color
  • 1″ paintbrush or large craft paintbrush


1. Stir 1 cup water and 1 cup cornstarch in a mixing bowl until no lumps remain.

2. Pour paint portions into each section of a muffin tin / each of several paint cups & stir food coloring or liquid watercolor paint into each.

3. As you paint onto the sidewalk, the mixture will appear light at first but will dry with a more vibrant, opaque color.

No-Cook Play Dough

Materials & Setup

  • 1 cup flour (packed)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Pot or saucepan
  • Stove or hot plate
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon or spatula (for mixing)
  • Airtight container or bag (for storage)


1. Boil a pot of water. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and cream of tartar. Mix well.

2. Measure out 1 cup of the boiling water. If using food coloring, add to the water now.

3. Pour vegetable oil and boiling water into the dry ingredients.

4. Mix until all ingredients are combined and the dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl.

5. When the mixture has cooled enough to handle, turn out onto a countertop and knead by hand until it is no longer sticky. If the dough remains sticky after kneading, dust the dough with a bit of flour and knead again.

6. Stored in a tightly sealed container or bag, this play dough can last for 2-3 months. If anyone using the play dough is feeling under the weather and might risk contaminating the dough, throw out after use.

Cloud Dough (Gluten Free!)

Note: mixing this dough is a bit sticky and messy, but the final product is not! Cloud dough is very smooth and light to the touch.

Materials & Setup

  • 2+ cups cornstarch
  • 2+ cups of shave foam/shaving cream
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • mixing bowl


1. In a bowl, combine 2 cups cornstarch and 1 cup shaving cream. Work the ingredients together with your hands. Once the shaving cream is incorporated, add another cup of shaving cream.

2. Work the dough until it forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl without crumbling. This process is messy, but very forgiving! If the dough is still too dry, add another small squirt of shave foam. If the dough is too wet, add cornstarch (about a tablespoon at a time) until it reaches the desired consistency.

3. Dough can be stored in a tightly sealed container for up to two weeks. Dried out dough can be salvaged with the addition of a little shave foam. If anyone playing with the dough is sick and may be contagious, discard dough after play.

Note: think beyond traditional play dough tools for this dough! Consider crafty options like gems, pipe cleaners or beads.