The JumpTherapy Blog:

Sensory Processing, Motor and Social Skills Resources
for Parents of  Special Needs Children

Fun Indoor Sensory Activities

Part 3 of 9: Bubbles, bathtubs and other good clean fun

All hands on deck for hands-on fun
Wet, squishy, colorful sensory activities increase your child’s tactile awareness/processing — and are endlessly entertaining, with all that mixing, swirling and squishing. And playing with water develops motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as builds understanding of ‘how things work’ (how water flows, finds a level, allows some items to float while others sink, etc.) through experimenting. Plus, it’s all fun! Here are a few ideas for activities to get you started.

Bubble foam: Go on, make a (clean) mess
Bubble foam is so easy to whip up — literally; you use a hand mixer. You already have all the ingredients at home and it only takes a few minutes.

– Dishwashing detergent, bubble bath or body wash (tear free)
– Water
– Food coloring (optional)

How to:
– Use two parts dishwashing detergent, bubble bath or body wash (tear free) to one part water
– Add food coloring if you like
– Mix with a hand mixer on the highest setting until the foam can form stiff peaks
– Dump the foam into a plastic bin
– Repeat with more colors until you have the desired amount
– Add small toys, such as little trucks, or baking utensils — different options keep it interesting — and stand back!

Check out this post
for specifics and links to fun variations.

Bathtub finger paint: Painting the tub red (or blue…or pink…)
Whether you do this at bath time or as a separate activity, bathtub finger painting is irresistibly fun. Plus, the mess is contained to your tub, or at least to your bathroom. Win-win!
Tip: Be safe and add a non-slip bath mat to your tub because this can get slippery.

You can buy pre-made bathtub finger paint soap (made by Crayola and sold on Amazon, Walmart, etc.) or you can make your own using one of these recipes:

No-cook recipe
(These are really just proportions; you will probably want to make more)
– 1⁄3 cup mild clear dishwashing soap OR baby soap such as Johnson and Johnson baby wash
– 1 tablespoon cornstarch (you can add more or less, depending on the consistency you like)
– food coloring or watercolor or tempura paint, in different colors

– Mix cornstarch and liquid soap in bowl
– Pour into muffin tin, equally divided between the sections
– Add drops of different colors of food coloring or paint to each section
– Mix until blended
– Give your child one or more paintbrushes and enjoy the changing artscape

Stove-top recipe, from
– 1 cup of dish soap or tear-free baby shampoo
– 1/2 cup of cornstarch
– 1/2 cup of cold water
– Food coloring or tempera paint

– In a sauce pan, mix the cornstarch into the cold water until it is dissolved — it should still be a bit pasty, but not clumpy. Then turn up the heat and bring the cornstarch water to a boil – stir constantly to make sure there are no chunks.
– Add the soap and mix, heating on medium temperature until just boiling. The soap should have a gel-like consistency as it cools.
– Add food coloring, tempera paint, or anything water-based.
– Test the paint on a patch of your tub to ensure that your food coloring does not stain.
– Store your paint in an airtight container. (The paint will separate slightly when stored; stir well before use.)

More tub fun: painting with shaving cream
The squish makes it extra amusing!

– Shaving cream
– Food coloring or tempera or watercolor paint

– Squirt a few dollops of shaving cream into each compartment of a muffin tin
– Mix a few drops of a different color food coloring or paint into each compartment
– Hand your child a paintbrush — or a few brushes in different sizes — and let the fun begin

Paint. Rinse. Repeat.
Go through the toy bins to find plastic toys and figures that your child can paint with washable paint — she can keep rinsing and re-painting them as much as she wants. She can play directly in the sink, or you can cover an area of the floor with a splat mat or drop cloth to make clean up easy.

Cleaning up is fun too — let him give the toys a final bath in the sink or a plastic tub (perhaps with some bubble bath involved?). Tip: It’s a good idea to cover the floor with an old towel first to guard against overly enthusiastic cleaning.

Water sports
Your child can play at the sink, in the tub, or in a basin on the floor (you can cover the floor with a splat mat, drop cloth, or even a trash bag cut in half and spread out, with a towel over it).

Ideas for materials your child can use to play with/in water:
– Different size cups
– Different size household containers and lids
– Eye droppers (or cleaned medicine dispensers)
– Sponges
– Squeeze bottles (you can rinse and re-use glue and condiment bottles)
– Spray bottles (plant misters, rinsed household cleaner bottles)
– Water guns
– Squirt toys
– Small toys
– Strainer spoons and nets to scoop toys
– Utensils to mix and stir water in containers
– Sturdy plastic bags
– Ice cubes
– A dollar store chalkboard to ‘paint’ on with water
– Objects of different densities for ‘float or sink’ experiments
– Homemade sailboats — see details at
– If desired, add a few drops of soap to make suds

Looking ahead:
In the next post, we will discuss an activity to do with your child that addresses a lot of sensory areas at once.

Does your child enjoy hands-on sensory experiences like finger painting, bubble foam, etc. or is s/he more of a paintbrush type? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, let me know there or via email what topics you would like to discuss or hear more about.

Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.

I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

First published on Miriam Skydell’s 

About Miriam:

Miriam Skydell MS, OTR/L is a pediatric OT with 30 years experience and a strong commitment to empowering every child with the skills, confidence and emotional stability necessary for a meaningful, independent life. In addition to her Masters degree from NYU (1986) and membership in the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), Miriam is a licensed Interactive Metronome®, HWT (Handwriting Without Tears®), and TLP (The Listening Program®) provider.

Miriam performs preschool screenings, contracts experienced OTs, PTs and STs to schools, helped implement the HWT curriculum, and lectures extensively for parent and support groups and at teacher conferences for public and private schools throughout New Jersey. Through her private practice in Fair Lawn, Miriam Skydell and Associates, established in 1995, Miriam has helped countless children with a wide range of diagnoses improve functional living skills, manage the impact of sensory processing dysfunction, and meet their individual potentials.

In 2013, Miriam developed the Sensory Bounce® Therapy program for children with special needs, including autism, to receive therapy in a fun, natural play environment which their typically-developing peers often enjoy. In a stimulating indoor inflatable bounce facility, an experienced therapist works with small groups of children with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing difficulties, and other delays. Children learn to build their motor and social skills in goal-oriented therapy play sessions, classes, after school programs, and winter and summer camps. Simultaneously, parents meet in a separate space to share common experiences and support each other. Miriam takes pride in providing a nurturing, caring environment where children and their parents feel safe and secure to explore, take risks and overcome challenges.

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