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favorite fillers sensory play open ended play

Favorite Fillers for Sensory Play

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"The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge. Our apparatus for educating the senses offers the child a key to guide his explorations of the world, they cast a light upon it which makes visible to him more things in greater detail than he could see in the dark, or uneducated state." - Maria Montessori 



What is Sensory Play? 

Sensory play is such a fun approach to stimulating your little one’s five senses – smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing.  

This type of hands-on learning is an incredible way to support your child in discovering the world around them. They can scoop, splash, mold, smell, and taste as they go.  

Your child has the opportunity to learn many valuable skills through sensory play activities, including:  

  • Build Nerve Connections in the Brain 
  • Fine Motor Skills 
  • Social and Language Skills 
  • Problem Solving  
  • Experimentation  
  • And so much more!  

You can start inviting your children to play, discover, experiment, and learn through play-based learning activities right now with a variety of different fillers for your sensory bins. You may even find many of these options in or around your own home. 



Filler Ideas for Open-Ended Sensory Play 

Fillers are used to provide new textures, smells, and even flavors to your child’s playtime. Many of our Learning Boards™ encourage the use of fillers, allowing for even more variety and fun!  

Fillers don’t have to be expensive! In fact, your pantry or backyard alone has several different fillers waiting to be utilized:

  • Rice 
  • Pasta 
  • Water 
  • Beans 
  • Lentils 
  • Popcorn Kernels 
  • Foam  
  • Snow 
  • Ice 
  • Shredded Paper 
  • Pom Poms  
  • Kinetic Sand 
  • Dirt 
  • Rocks 
  • Water Beads 
  • Shells 
  • Glitter (if you’re feeling brave!) 

Several of these fillers can also be dyed—everything is more fun with color! Check out our Instagram highlights for a tutorial on how to bring your pasta to life. 



4 Ways to Use Fillers for Sensory Play 

Finding new ways to foster creative play can get a little tricky when you’re relying solely on your own ideas. That’s why we are constantly sharing what The Creative Learning Co. community is up to over on our Instagram.  

Here are four creative ways you can use fillers for sensory play:  

  • Fill a Trofast bin with a filler of your choice (or, even better, your child’s choice!), hide small objects or toys in the bin, and send your child on a special mission to find all of the items. 
  • Try our Funnel Board™ with beans or colored rice! Scooping and pouring are exciting all on their own!  
  • Fill a bin with shredded paper and small toys, provide tweezers or tongs, and allow your little one to work on their fine motor skills by retrieving all the items.
  • Use the Potion Board™ and choose a variety of different fillers for your child to experiment, sort, and mix. 



Get Creative 

The best thing about open-ended, sensory play is that there are so many different ways to make it new and exciting again. Simply change the theme, filler, tool, or board—and uncover even more hours of exploration!  

Here at The Creative Learning Co., we want to be a resource for you as you discover that creative play doesn’t have to be complicated in order to be loads of fun for everyone!  

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