8 Animal & Dinosaur themed sensory activities for toddlers and preschoolers

A sensory activity is commonly portrayed via a sensory bin, which is basically is a small themed world where multiple shapes, textures and ideas are presented for little ones to engage in imaginative play. The items do not have to come from a particular source, you can use many of the items you already have, the key is to have a variety of items.

These sensory tubs are great in engaging young children and getting them to focus for a period of time. Having created hundreds of sensory play sessions, we have picked out some of the interesting ones you can try making with your animal/dinosaur loving toddlers at home.

Dinosaur water tub

Dinosaur water tub: While most dinosaurs lived on land, they do need to go down to the lake for a drink or to cool off during a hot day. Add a few drops of blue food dye to a tub of water, throw in some pebbles, bowls and dinosaur toys and you’re good for many hours of fun. Tip: Set this up in the toilet and you can shower for  your child after play, saving time in the clean up process.

dinosaur toys in soil

Dinosaur soil tub: If the weather outside is great, you might want to take your play outdoors with this dinosaur soil sensory tub. The ingredients are straight-forward: Potting soil, dinosaur toys and anything you can use to scoop or dig with. Action terms like digging, burying, scooping, hiding can be shared with your child during play. TIP: For an added element of mess, add water to the soil to make mud!

dinosaur toys in cloud dough

Dinosaur cloud dough tub: While soil is great fun, it is rather coarse and is more suitable when used with larger toys and tools. For a ‘finer’ experience, consider using cloud dough as a sensory base, this is easily made by adding a few drops of oil to flour. It clumps together when squeezed but otherwise acts like flour.

snakes in waterbeads

Snakes in a tub: Once again, another tub consisting of very simple materials: Water beads and snake toys. You can also include strings, yarns or anything that resembles snakes for your child to observe the similarities.


Birds sensory tub: Bird toys are one of the hardest toys to find in toy stores, but they are great as a teaching tool as there are so many ways to identify, classify and interact with them.

monkey in sea setting

Monkeys in wrong habitat: Another way we like to shake things up is by exploring animal habitats, by placing the monkeys and apes in an ocean setting. Our kids were initially puzzled but slowly started to concoct rationales to explain the monkeys’ presence in the ocean. The epitome of imaginative play

monkey hide and seek

Monkeys hide-n-seek: We then bring the imagination ship back to ground by placing the monkeys back in their correct setting. Using a plain base of barley beans and some freshly picked leaves and plants, we recreate a simple forest scene where the monkeys can hide and climb in.

Squirrels sensory bin: Note the emphasis on the animal habitats again, we went for a ‘woodlands’ feel rather than a ‘forest’ feel in the video above, we also added a counting activity inside this sensory tub. That’s how simple it is to integrate literacy and numeracy elements in sensory play.

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