19 Ways To Encourage Sensory, Messy or Imaginative Play

These toys will fire your little ones’ imaginations and stimulate their senses.

For every parent of young children in the land, there has almost certainly come a point over the past weeks of casting about amidst the sea of discarded toys and despairing. Not, we must add, just at the sheer mess, but also at the idea that lockdown has seen our little ones tear through their toys to the point that they’ve now lost the appeal they once had. While we are not advocates of simply adding to the pile, there are some judiciously chosen toys that will keep them occupied over the weeks that still stretch ahead of all this. Whether your child is into games, messy/ sensory play or can construct imaginative worlds for themselves given just a few props, we round up some of those that may just do the job.

MAIN IMAGE: Little Dutch/ Scandiborn

By Lucy Abletshauser
February 2021

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Wild Swimming

Little Nut Tree Toys

Le Toy Van Lionheart Wooden Castle, NOW £99.95

A Little Find

Tonie’s Starter Box, £69.95

Plum Discovery

Mud Pie Kitchen, £219.95

Quirky Gadgets

Cool Cats Puzzle, £18.50

Gate 35

Eco-Friendly Bug House Hotel, £15.99

The Little Natural Co

Maileg Princess And The Pea, Big Sister, £42


Felt Wool Elves, Set of 7, £35

Jaques London

Crazy Cats Stacking Toy, £7.99


Colour In Cardboard Playhouse, £17


Little Dutch Market Stall, £85


Sensory Messy Play Pack, £24.99


Magnetibook Educational Toy, £18

John Lewis

Learning Resources Playfoam, £9

My 1st Years

Personalised Plan Toys Tabletop Pinball Toy, £100

Meri Meri

Tulle Angel Wings Costume, £32

Not On The High Street

Children’s Cardboard Eco Rocket, £39.90

Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop

Peter Pan Hand Shadow Game, £15


Rattan Mushroom Play Basket, £49.90


Wood Little, Parking Garage, NOW£32.90

Lucy Abletshauser

Shopping Editor

Lucy is the GWG's go-to expert on the best online buys, from fashion to interiors. An aesthete to her core, she does the trawling so you don't have to.