Play is a child’s learning tool. It might just look like repetitive entertainment to you but in fact that growing young mind is working very hard mastering new skills. Play is a child’s natural form of communication hence therapists make use of “play therapy” in working through children’s emotions. As play is such a vital tool for children to use in advancing their skills this places importance on the kinds of stimulating activities we as parents provide for our children. Sensory activities are a wonderful means of creating fun educative play for children.

Fun with Bubbles: A Sensory Activity and the Importance of Sensory Play
Credit: Bubble Bath Beauty on Flickr via CC 2.0

Bubbles always put a smile on a child's face.

Sensory play is any activity that engages your child’s senses. You can engage any of the five senses with sensory play,  namely sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste and many combinations of these engaging the senses is the best method for toddlers to retain information. Through sensory play you are allowing children to learn and develop their social, emotional, linguistic, cognitive, physical and creative skills.[1][2]

Sensory play allows children to be in charge, boosting a sense of self-confidence. It encourages eagerness to experiment and learn. Working with other children beside them also assists in teaching them different points of view. Fine motor skills can be developed and creativity blossoms through open-ended possibilities. Cognitive skills that are refined are problem solving and decision making. Linguistic skills are sharpened through expressive and descriptive means. Children learn the meaning of things.[1]

When a child plays their senses are assisting in creating meaningful memories. Memories are triggered later on by a similar smell, touch and so on. Feelings associated with these memories are then brought to the child’s foreground for example the smell of cinnamon could trigger a fond memory of mom’s home baked treats or the sight of a certain object could trigger memories of joyous family experiences.

Who doesn’t love bubbles? I know my toddler gets wildly excited just at the word, so much so that the word cannot be spoken without him breaking out into excited demands for bubbles. Playing with bubbles can come in many different forms. The traditional bubble fun would be blowing bubbles from a bubble wand. Then you get the bubble machine which takes the bubble wand to a different level, creating even more excitement for the children.

Soapy foam is a creative and enjoyable form of bubble play. It is an easy recipe that provides your children with great sensory stimulation.

Soapy Foam Recipe


  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of dish washing liquid (use a good brand for better results)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Water color paint (any color you like)

In a deep bowl or jug add all the ingredients and whisk them together using an electric hand mixer.

red bowl and green cupCredit: Sudocream

Only a small amount of water color paint is needed. Using water colors ensures your children’s clothes won’t be stained. I suggest that the little ones wear old clothes or a baking apron when playing with the foam.

Fun with foamCredit: SudocreamA deep bowl or jug allows you to mix away with no mess and watch as the foam rises up. These ingredients fill around about a two litre jug. You can make a few batches according to the number of children who will be playing with the bubbly foam and also mix it up with a variety of colors. If you would like one big batch of foam then decant the mixture into a large plastic container. I prefer giving each child their own plastic bucket and jug to play with. This ensures the toddlers don’t fight over one bucket and creates more fun. If you have older children then they may enjoy playing together with one big container. The cornstarch creates wonderful dense bubbles but you can also play around with the quantities of the ingredients creating variations of bubbly foam.

This activity is great for those lovely warm days outside but if the weather is cold it’s also not too messy to use inside. If you need to have indoor playtime due to the weather then put an old towel or blanket down on the kitchen floor tiles for the children to play away. This will limit some mess. If you are worried about the paint in the foam staining your beautiful kitchen tiles simply leave the paint out of the mixture. You could always brighten up the foam with glitter, sprinkles or any other fun additives. Think of your own child and what grabs their attention most.

Dense bubblesCredit: Sudocream

This sensory activity can be adapted in a variety of ways. Some ideas to make this bubbly foam even more enjoyable are as follows:

  • Hide some objects in the foam for the children to find
  • Give them some kitchen or toy plastic tools to play with such as scoops, cups or shapes (beach toys work well)
  • Making different colors allows them to mix colors and create their own colorful foam
  • Add the foam to a bucket of water
  • Use plastic toy animals
  •  Add it to your toddler’s splash pool on a very hot day (wash your child down afterwards to avoid any skin irritation from the soap)

To the right, you can see how the density of the bubbles is demonstrated. Don’t those bubbles look so inviting to play with? Even as an adult I want to dig my hands in there and have some fun.

Closing Thoughts

Sensory activities are of great importance in assisting your child to master new skills and form lasting memories. Using the senses in play makes learning fun. Children love bubbles, creating fun learning experiences with something your child will find very exciting. Bubbly soapy foam is a wonderful activity that can be adapted to suit your child’s specific interests. The recipe is simple and most households have all the ingredients already in their home so there is no need to plan ahead and buy lots of unnecessary extras. My son absolutely loved this activity and we will definitely be inviting his friends over to join in the bubble madness.