8 Favourite Sensory Play Fillers

8 of our favourite sensory play fillers
Sian Thomas

If you’re wondering exactly what to use for sensory play then here is a collection of our favourite sensory play fillers. We absolutely LOVE sensory play and do it at least once a week – the bases shared below are ones that we have on rotation constantly!

Sensory play is so beneficial for young children and you can read more about it here.

When you scroll on down this list, you’ll notice it will go from simple ideas to more messy bases. If you’re just starting sensory play, go with the simple ideas first and build up to different textures as you’re child gets used to this kind of play.

8 Favourite Sensory Play Fillers


Not a week goes by when we aren’t playing with water in the Flisat table. The great thing about water as a sensory play filler is that it is a great introduction to sensory play and decidedly less messy than some of the alternatives you’ll see later on in this post.

sensory play filler lemon soup
Lemon ‘soup’ with yellow food colouring and slices of lemon

2. Cereals

If you have some uneaten cereals in your cupboard, sensory play is a great way to use them up! Just add some scoops and funnels and you’re good to go.

sensory play filler cereal teddy bears picnic
Teddy Bear picnic using stale cereals and nature treasures

3. Rainbow Rice

Rainbow rice takes a little while to prepare BUT it can last for months when stored correctly. You can read more about making rainbow rice on my Pinterest page here.

rainbow rice sensory play filler

4. Chickpeas

Either dyed or plain, chickpeas are fantastic for scooping and pouring activities. Use chickpeas with older children (3+) who no longer mouth everything in sight! You can find out how to make it here.

sensory play filler chickpeas

5. Shaving Cream

Shaving foam can be a really fun base – particularly in winter when it can act as snow! This one can take a little while for children to warm up to, so my advice would be to start off with just a small tub rather than a huge elaborate scene! Choose the ‘sensitive’ option which is kinder to your child’s delicate skin.

You can also use whipping cream as an alternative for children who put things in their mouths.

dinosaur swap with shaving foam

6. Aquafaba

Aquafaba sounds fancy, but it’s simply the juice from chickpeas! This is great for the under 3’s too because you don’t need to worry if it gets in their mouth. Simply strain the ‘juice’ from a couple of cans of chickpeas into a jug, add a splash of water and a little food colouring, then mix it all up in a blender.

chickpea foam birthday cake
Birthday cake themed chickpea foam

7. Gloop

This non-Newtonian fluid is a lot of fun for little ones to explore. Made from cornstarch and water, it acts as both a solid and a liquid. Find out how to make it here

green gloop sensory play

8. Bubble Foam

Bubble foam is a lot of good clean fun! You can use bubble bath (recommended for littlies) or dishsoap to make this bubbly fun mix. Click here to find out how to make it.

unicorn themed bubble foam

Tips for Using Food in Play

Using food in sensory play bases can be a sensitive topic. You need to consider the cost/benefit to using food it this way and try to avoid situations where you are buying food especially for play. That being said, using food for play can be considered more environmentally friendly than some of the alternatives such as glitter, Styrofoam and straws.

I advise that you use it as a way to use up food that has gone stale or past its sell by date. With sensory play fillers like chickpeas, lentils and rainbow rice, keep them in a resealable bag so that they can be used over and over again.

Rainbow rice, when stored correctly, can last for years.

Whilst my website is mainly dedicated to play at home, if you’re a teacher reading this, just be mindful of the socio-economic situations of the children you teach and whether it would be appropriate to use food as a base.


Safety First

When choosing any of these sensory play fillers, think safety! If your child is under 3, stick to the bases that will b e taste safe and won’t pose a choking hazard: water, baby cereals and chickpea foam for example.