Simple DIY Sensory Play with Therapy Putty & Pony Beads

Sensory play is a vital tool for all children. You may have heard other parents, teachers, therapists, and doctors comment on the use of sensory play for certain children. However, I feel it’s important to understand how helpful it is for all children, not just children with sensory concerns.

Simple DIY Sensory Play with Therapy Putty & Pony Beads

The Five Senses

  1. Smell
  2. Touch
  3. Sound
  4. Sight
  5. Taste

Children are learning and exploring from the minute they are born. They start to take in their surroundings from their first breath, and this continues on through childhood. So why not make learning as fun as possible?

Ideally, sensory play should include all five senses. However, I’m going to focus this post just on touch through sensory play with therapy putty and pony beads.

The Sense of Touch

A child’s sense of touch is a way for the brain to learn things and send messages back to the child to make a decision, based on what they just felt. Children also begin most of their learning through the sense of touch. Therefore, the art of touching and learning is essential to the growth and development of your child.

As I started to read more on the importance of sensory play, I asked around to see what other parents were doing to incorporate this into their child’s daily play. One of my friends mentioned therapy putty and pony beads. She showed me how her kids utilized these two items, and I couldn’t wait to try it out!

Therapy Putty

It was a huge hit in our home. My daughter spent hours manipulating the putty in her hands and then removing the beads, one by one.

We ordered Therapy Putty. You don’t need any specific kind. We just ordered the pack that contained four different levels of firmness. I initially only allowed my daughter to play with the putty. For me, she was too young to integrate the beads at 18 months. She was still putting EVERYTHING into her mouth.

Simple DIY Sensory Play with Therapy Putty & Pony Beads

I allowed her to spend as much time with each color (the color signified the firmness level) as she wanted. To my surprise, she enjoyed the firmest putty the most! I think it gave her a challenge to pull it apart. She also loved to squeeze the softest putty between her fingers.

Adding in Pony Beads

Around 20 months, I started to add in the pony beads. I would add 5 beads to each putty container, so I could keep track of how many she had found, removed or put back. Now that she is almost 2, she can have as many beads in the putty containers as she would like.

The goal of adding the beads to the putty is to have her remove each bead from the putty and place it into the putty container. This was not only great sensory play but also kept my very busy toddler occupied for a good 30 minutes. I will tell you, it’s even a challenge for me, an adult, to get beads out of the firmest putty!

Simple DIY Sensory Play with Therapy Putty & Pony Beads

Benefits of Sensory Play

By adding in this activity for our touch sensory play, my daughter has shown great improvement in her communication, emotions and overall physical development.

  • The use of the putty has helped my daughter’s patience increase, by learning the difference of removing the pony beads from different putty firmness.
  • Labeling the putty color and pony beads has helped my daughter learn her colors and articulate the color words.
  • Hand-eye coordination has improved by spending time removing the pony beads and placing them into the empty putty containers.
  • By spending one-on-one time with my daughter during this sensory play, our bond has grown. Giving her praise as she learns new skills and new words helps create a safe and trusting bond between us.

Adding in creative activities to incorporate the sense of touch is easy to do and not time consuming. The art of touch increases bonding, development, communication and emotional wellbeing.

The benefits are not just for your children, but you too!


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Emily Patel
Emily is an ER nurse turned stay-at-home mama to a beautiful & spirited daughter, Penelope, and wife to an ER Physician. Prior to staying home, she was in the ER setting for over ten years, where she met her husband in 2015. She's an Iowa native, but new to Cedar Rapids since 2013. In 2018 she started started an Intentional Motherhood blog called OakB.Co with the intention to encourage, help, and energize mothers while giving them tools to lessen their workload, help build an authentic community, and inspire them to realize they are enough. She's a busy mama who pretty much lives on coffee and donuts!

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