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  • Gina

Bug-Tastic Sensory Play

In this BLOG pos I will share our favorite ways to incorporate BUGS into sensory play.

Head to our Instagram page to see more ways to learn & play at home or in the classroom! We love to see you play & share the joy of hands-on crafts & activities at home. Be sure to tag @aplayfilledlife on Instagram or Facebook if you try any of our ideas!!

XO Gina


  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/4 cup salt

  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup coffee grounds (I toss in the used coffee grounds from my pot, it doesn't matter if it isn't exact!)

If you do not have coffee grounds, or you prefer not to use them, that's OK! You can substitute a few tablespoons of cinnamon or apple pie spice. You can also eliminate seasoning all together and add 5 drops of brown food coloring to the water to make it look like dirt!


  • Pour all ingredients into a pan.

  • Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.

  • When it forms a ball, remove from pan.

  • After it cools, knead well.

  • Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months!

Extend your play by adding in your favorite play dough tools like rollers, scissors, cookie cutters and more!


  • Ice cube tray or bowl

  • Trinkets that can be frozen

  • Sensory tray or bowl

  • Tools to rescue the objects


  • Grab a plastic or metal bowl, an ice cube tray, a silicone mold or a cake/baking pan.

  • Add in your favorite trinkets (plastic animals or figurines, legos, gems, pom Poms, shells, rocks, alphabet letters- literally anything) & add water. Food coloring is optional, a few drops go a long way.

  • Freeze for a few hours (length will depend on size and shape that you use.)

  • When frozen, place in a sensory tray or bowl, add medicine droppers, pipettes, squirt bottles or wooden mallets. Also add a few cups or a bowl or warm water.

  • Rescue your treasures!! Squirt, squeeze & bang away until they are free of the ice!

Extend your play by trying this with pom poms, plastic letters, numbers or shapes!

Frozen Bugs in a Bowl

Don't have an ice cube mold to use? Just follow the same steps above but use a metal or plastic bowl!!

BUG and Beans Sensory Bin


  • Brown beans (uncooked)

  • plastic bugs

  • Sensory tray or bowl

  • Any kind of scoops, shovels, etc


  • Dump all of the materials into a sensory tray or bowl.

  • PLAY!!

Extend your play by sorting the bugs by characteristics (size, shape, color, number of wings), making patterns or counting!



  • (2) cups Cornstarch

  • (1/2) cup Cocoa Powder (if you want it to look like mud!)

  • (1) cup Water

  • Sensory bin or bowls

  • Spoon

  • Plastic bugs


  • Mix corn starch, water, and cocoa powder (if using) in a tub or tray and have fun experimenting!

  • Add in plastic bugs, trucks, cars or scoops. PLAY!

  • Make observations as you play. How does it smell? How does it feel? What happens when you add more water to the Oobleck bin? What does it look like as it dries?

  • If you let Oobleck completely dry out and harden, you can store it in an airtight container. The next time you want to use it, simply add water to reactivate!

Messy play is SO beneficial for children. It's open-ended, encourages creativity, provides sensory input & teaches them about their personal boundaries. Messy play activates the senses and has been known to be calming, offering an incredible opportunity to practice self-regulation strategies.

Extend your play by sticking the bugs into the Oobleck and having the child pick them out with tongs. This is great for strengthening fine motor skills!!


  •  2 cups Flour

  • 1/4-1/2 cup Vegetable or coconut oil

  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder

  • Sensory tray or bowl

  • Spoon


  • Pour all of the ingredients into a sensory tray or bowl. Mix well. I like to go in with my hands to make sure that everything is really incorporated in. The consistency should be soft, but firm. You should be able to make a ball with the mixture, but also crumble it up.

  • If it is too crumbly, add a bit more oil.

  • If it is too wet, add a bit more flour.

  • When you are happy with the consistency of the moon sand, dump it into a bowl or sensory tray. You can add in scoops, bowls, mini shovels...anything you want! You can also just go in & explore with your hands which is equally as fun!

Extend your play by burying the bugs in the mood sand and using your fingers or tongs to dig them out!

Additional Ways to extend your learning:

  • Use the bugs to practice sorting by size, color or number of legs. You can also sort by insects that fly/insects that do not fly.

  • Use the bugs to practice making patterns.

  • Use the bugs to work on 1:1 correspondence: pointing to each bug and touching it as you count.

  • Speaking of counting, these bugs are PERFECT to use to represent numbers, practice counting and work on addition or subtraction.

  • Flatten the dough and smoosh the bugs into it, then remove then. Now you have a bug puzzle that your child can complete by matching the images!

  • Take a bug and hide it inside a ball of play dough. Have the child dig through it to find what is hidden inside! This is SO good for fine motor skills.


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