Learning Through Sensory Play: Toddler Style

Learning Through Sensory Play: Toddler Style

Can your little one learn through sensory play? Of course! It’s no secret that toddlers are one of my favorite age groups to work with, and I firmly believe that this age group learns best when they are having fun and playing! After all, play is a child’s work.

This is why all of my activities double up as play AND an opportunity to practice other skills, whether it's motor skills, literacy, or numeracy. 

sensory play preschool pin

We have been learning all about life on the pond in my classroom lately, and these are three pond-themed sensory activities for toddlers that are so much fun your littles won’t even realize they are learning at the same time! 

Swimming Ducks Sensory Play

This hands-on activity lets little ones practice their letter formation skills and get a little messy! 


To get ready, I laminated the pond mats and letter cards from my Pond Week lesson plans.

Then I gathered my other materials:

toddler sensory bin shaving cream

On the mats, mix some shaving cream with a drop of blue paint to create the water. 

Letter Formation and More

Little ones choose a letter card and then make their ducks “swim” to form the letter in their shaving cream water.

Not only are they learning about letters and their shapes, but this is great practice for those important fine motor and pre-handwriting skills.

preschooler doing sensory play

This activity can be easily adapted for different ages and abilities. There are cards for lowercase and beginning sounds also included in the plans. 

Counting Frogs Sensory Bin

This next sensory bin is so fun for toddlers because they get to play froggies, BUT they also are practicing number skills. 

counting sensory bin for toddlers


To set this one up, I filled my sensory bin with water, water beads, laminated lily pads, and rubber frogs.

Please make sure if you are using water beads that you are supervising your littles the whole time.

If you don’t want to use water beads, you could also pom poms or just water. I set out fishing nets and kid tweezers

counting frogs sensory bin preschooler

A teacher tip, when you are making the lily pads be sure to cut them out before laminating so that the edges are sealed and waterproof. Then I printed the ten frames and laminated them too.

Counting Frogs and Pom Poms

For this sensory bin, we took turns drawing a ten-frame card and then using the net or tweezers to pick up and count the frogs and put them on a lily pad. For the larger numbers, we used pom poms once we ran out of frogs. 

counting sensory bin for preschool

This was a fun and engaging way to work on counting and the kids loved hopping the frogs to the lily pads as they played. My little learners had a blast AND worked on their fine motor and math skills too!  

Jello Pond Sensory Bin

Another toddler sensory bin is the taste-safe jello pond I shared all about in this blog post

taste safe jello sensory bin

Looking for more pond-themed activities or ideas? My Pond Week Lesson Plans include 5 days' worth of hands-on activities, crafts, and book recommendations. 

Looking for sensory bin ideas? Subscribe to the Preschool Packets newsletter (at the bottom of this page or top left) every Tuesday I will have new preschool ideas in your inbox, and once a month we have a whole newsletter dedicated to sensory bins!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Free Rainbow Name Craft

Want to grab our adorable Rainbow Name craft for FREE? Sign up to for my newsletter and I will send you this fun printable straight to your email!

(PS Be sure to check your promotion/spam folder if you don't see the email in your inbox)

You May Also Enjoy These Posts!

Resources You Might Like

See Our Activities In Action


No more products available for purchase

Your Cart is Empty