Making play doh is a very fun, inexpensive project that can have multiple purposes.
My favorite recipe is mixing 1 cup of hair conditioner to 2 cups of corn starch. (Sometimes we add glitter, because Laura Kate.) It feels super silky and smells wonderful too!
You can play with the dough like normal play doh with cookie cutters, etc. or you can even put a little bit inside a balloon to make a stress/squeeze ball.
We use these things for so many things. They are cheap and you can find them at the dollar store or sometimes on the dollar aisle at Target.
We frequently use them in our rice box, sometimes we use them for craft projects, or we have used them for motor skill projects. Oftentimes, my kids just like to count them or hold them or carry them around with them.
This is our most popular sensory activity. We play with these boxes all the time. They are really easy to make. Simply fill a sturdy sterilite container about halfway full with rice, or dry beans, or sand. We currently have a sand box and a rice box. For the sand, our favorite is kinetic sand. While the kinetic sand is pricey, it is absolutely worth it (a good second place would be moon sand). I also find it helpful to have small shovels or spoons as well.
My basic rule for the boxes is that the sand/rice/beans must stay in the box (accidents still happen, of course!). Sometimes I have specific activities with the boxes, like hiding alphabet letters and letting them dig and search for them. Sometimes we make pictures with the colored pom poms. Most of the time, I just have them gather random small toys that they want to play with in the boxes like hotwheels, figures, dinosaurs, and army men.
This might seem to simple or obvious, but we try and have musical instruments available for play to engage the sense of hearing. For my own sanity (this Mama can be sensitive to the competing noise!), this is not a free play opportunity, but we have times for music play.
You can also make musical instruments. Make egg shakers from rice and easter eggs, or tambourines from two paper plates attached together with beans inside.
I think the sense of taste is often overlooked when it comes to sensory play. One easy way to engage this sense is to allow for help in the kitchen. This is really difficult for me sometimes because it means more work on my behalf, but I know that my kids really love it and its good for them too!
**Sometimes children need extra help with their sensory development. If you have concerns about your children, I would highly encourage you to discuss with your Pediatrician or Primary Care Physician.