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The Ultimate Guide to Messy Sensory Play: The Best Tools

Best Tools for Messy Sensory Play - Our Top 5 Picks

There are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re trying to find the best tool for your messy activities and what you are hoping your child will achieve from the sensory experience. For example, what kind of messy activity are you trying to do? What developmental milestone are you trying to reach? Are you introducing a new material? What is the main focus or theme for this activity?

It all depends on your situation and what kind of mess you’re dealing with or what developmental milestone you are trying to hit. But here are our top 5 tools that can be useful in various situations:

1. Spoons - These can be wooden, plastic or metal and can be various sizes.

2. Bowls - Various shapes, size and material

3. Tongs - Both metal and plastic

4. Bottles - With and without lids, spray bottles, squeeze bottles

5. Your child's favourite toys - Animals, Cars, Trucks, Bath toys

Our top 5 tools in sensory messy play?


One of the most important tools to have for sensory messy play is spoons. Spoons are great because they are cheap and easy to find in any kitchen drawer. They also have different textures, shapes, weights and can be used for different purposes. Spoons are a great tool for learning and developing transfer skills, hand-eye coordination, mixing 'potions' and improving self feeding techniques.


Bowls are a staple of sensory messy play. They come in all shapes and sizes, easy to clean and are versatile. They’re are perfect for introducing little ones to measurement, volume and capacity. They are able to hold both dry and wet messy materials and are pretty hardy even with roughest of rough play. Bowl are a great tool for an early introduction to volumes, can be used for sorting activities, provide opportunities for language development such as "is the bowl full" "can you fill up the bowl".


Tongs are great for sensory messy play because they allow children to touch different textures without having to worry about getting their hands dirty. One of the great things about tongs is that they are reusable and inexpensive, so you can use them over and over again with multiple different materials and sensory worlds. Tongs are a great tool to work on those hand and finger muscles that will later go on to hold a pencil for writing.


Bottles are great for sensory messy play because they are easy to use and can be used in a variety of ways. Bottles can be filled with water, food coloring, or paint to create different visuals and colors. They can also be filled with rice, beans, or pasta to create different sounds. There are different bottle that can be introduced such as spray, squeeze or pop-top bottles. Bottles are a great tool for introducing volumes and capacity, Spray and squeeze bottles work those hand and finger muscles and filling bottles increases concentration, focus and improves hand-eye coordination.

Your child's favourite toys

This is a great way to introduce your child to messy sensory play or a new material that they have not experience yet. We always suggest adding in some toys to your sensory small world because this help invite and engage your little one with the materials. If you add in animals there is the opportunity to work on animal recognition, If adding in bath toys, you can work on colour recognition and if adding in cars and trucks they will be work on their gross motor skills. Language development is always possible in every situation "Is that heavy?" "You are pushing the car" "you found the whale" "the horse is brown".

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