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Kids love to have fun. Understatement of the year, right? But it’s so easy to fall into the “technology trap” of addicting iPad games that often times force us to lose sight of the simple things, and the simple things can be just as engaging, if not productive and sensory-indulging.

Here’s a collection of fun and simple, tried and true sensory toys to have on hand (or to put on your wishlist for that next birthday!) for when your kid needs something to grab onto.

1. Kinetic Sand

This stuff is awesome. 98% sand, 2% some sort of random patented “secret ingredient” that holds it all together. Find it on Amazon for much cheaper than on their website. Check out this stuff in action!

2. Playfoam

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Although it looks exactly like Dippin’ Dots, eat this stuff you should definitely not. Squeeze it, mold it, shape it, and squish it though you should definitely! It’s about as light as air itself, but provides hours of endless, imaginative, colorful play.

3. Sensory balls


Always good to have a handful of play balls around, varying in size, color, and texture. Just make sure they don’t end up in the kitchen– Mama might already be trippin’ but she sure don’t need to fall over!

4. Shaving cream

Does it get any simpler than this? If you don’t have a table that you don’t mind getting a bit messy, you can always use the bathtub for a self-contained shaving cream extravaganza. Here’s a pic of our own sensory seeking Little Bird using shaving cream with a foam puzzle!


5. Plui


Apeaking of tubs, this oddly-shaped, anthropomorphic looking water toy that resembles something of an elephant/pig mix without a head is a great addition to bathtime. Fill this thing up with water and squeeze it out. In the process, all sorts of fun is sure to be had.

6. Good old fashioned Play Doh


It was around when your parents were kids, and it’s so incredibly lovable that its inventors still haven’t figured out a way to improve it. Need I say more?

7. Koosh balls


A 90s staple, these things are cheap, indestructible, streeeeeetchy, and come in more color combos than a Woodstock poster.

8. Skwish


Pretty sure you have to be a kid to figure out exactly what to do with this thing, but figured it out kids surely have.

9. Oball



Roll it, throw it, squeeze it, bounce it, grab it. This rubber skeleton of a ball never gets old. Suitable ages: 0 to 100 years old.

While this is far from a scientifically-assembled list of Ultimate Sensory Toys, these are our current favorites.

What’d we leave out? What’s your child hooked on right now?


Ben Chutz is a Cofounder and CEO of Birdhouse for Autism. He lives in Michigan with his wife, Dani, 10 year old stepdaughter (who happens to have Autism), and 1 year old son. Ben is a lover of music, coffee, and burritos (not necessarily in that order).