Dawn-Marie Potter

Home schooling mother of 3 amazing children, life coach/public speaker specializing in positive parenting of special needs children.

green ball Creating Sensory Toys      Sensory toys are a wonderful gift for any child, but they are especially great for children with sensory difficulties. Be those hyper or hypo senses (or most commonly a combination of hypo and hyper senses) The unfortunate part of wanting to give a child sensory toys is the cost typically associated with them. I find that many companies that offer them as specifically “sensory toys” do so at exorbitant prices.  Now that’s not to say that our children are not worth it! As far as I’m concerned my children are worth anything and everything. However, I do not currently have a money tree in my backyard, and so the less I spend on each item means the more I can get them in general. So below are some of the ways that I am using to create an entire sensory area for under $200.

Dollar Stores:

Dollar stores are a hidden goldmine of sensory toys. They aren’t labelled as such, but they have tons. From color changing globes to squishy animals with glow lights in them, so many different safe options can be found there for visual sensory toys. Wooden spoons and small metal bake ware pans, or microphones that amplify a child’s voice really are lovely for auditory sensory toys. As are the stuffed animal toys with squeakers in them! (Yes I know that they are sold as pet toys, but honestly I’ve seen how happy my child is playing with our cat’s and so I don’t see an issue with buying a couple for him specifically.)


A wonderful yahoo group that anyone can join, Freecycle was created around the premise that giving things we no longer need to others is far better than throwing them out. A Google search of Freecycle and the name of the city or town you live in should show you the group nearest you. I’ve had many wonderful items gifted to me through Freecycle and I always make sure to post when I have items in good condition that I no longer need/want to gift to others. While a request for sensory toys might not garner you much (although it just might) asking for specific items such as indoor strings of holiday lights or fabric should hopefully yield positive results.

Second Hand Stores:

Unique fabrics (faux fur, silk, pleather etc.) can often be found in a specific section of second-hand stores. Those fabrics can be turned into a wealth of sensory toys with only a small amount of effort and time. (Or lots depending on how complex you choose to make things) Some of that fabric, coupled with thick cardboard and either laces, buttons or zippers can be turned into dressing boards that children can play with to help them with the fine motor skills required for dressing themselves sans help. Additionally all sorts of items can be found at second-hand stores already made that someone no longer needs that might be a lovely addition for your child’s sensory area.

Your Home:

Don’t overlook all of the items you naturally have already on hand! A clear bottle cleaned out and filled with water, food coloring and some loose glitter (with the lid crazy glued on) makes a fun visual sensory toy. Plastic containers glued shut with dried beans or rice inside make great auditory sensory toys as well.

For more ideas, you can click on the links below for tons of pictures that you can use as inspiration to make your own sensory toys or to keep in mind when you’re out at various stores for sensory toys that might not be labelled as such.

Make your own sensory toys

Sensory Toys



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