Sensory Board

A sensory board made from household items placed onto a flat surface

This activity promotes development and learning by encouraging children to use their senses to explore and interact with the environment, to understands and use a growing vocabulary, as well as identifying and expressing their emotions or feelings.

Materials Needed:

  •  Large card board box (or a plastic storage bin lid)
  •  Scissors, tape or hot glue
  •  Flower petals, leaves, or stems
  •  Scents that are safe for young children (e.g. almond extract, lemon extract, peppermint extract, etc.)
  • Materials with a variety of textures (e.g. Bubble wrap, Wrapping paper, Soft blanket, Sand paper, Aluminum foil, Packing tape, Cotton balls, Egg cartons, etc.)

Participants: This activity is intended for independent exploration.


  1. Gather materials.
  2. Option 1 - cut cardboard box and use one flat side to create a sensory board (or utilize the top of a plastic storage bin lid). Option 2 - if cardboard box is large enough for child to climb in, leave whole and adhere materials on the inside walls of the box.
  3. Cut each material into roughly 5”x5” squares (measurements do not need to be exact). Add a drop or two of the safe scents to cotton balls.
  4. Use glue or tape to adhere squares and cotton balls to the cardboard in a grid like structure.
  5. Allow children to explore the various materials using their sense of touch and smell to experience textures and scents. Ask open ended questions encouraging children to identify how each material feels and how they feel exploring each item.
Bright Horizons
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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
A sensory board made from household items placed onto a flat surface