In my research for winter themed sensory play ideas I came across packing peanuts as an intriguing material. I’m an avid Freecycler and decided the next time I saw packing peanuts offered I’d request them for some good old toddler play.  My 19 month old son, Zeke, is my beloved guinea pig for new projects and he had a blast with this project. You can see from the photos that he was very focused as he explored this new material. To encourage sorting and measuring I grabbed bowls and tools from the kitchen, including but limited to: a cup, a ladle, and a few boxes from our recycling.

Zeke loves sorting and pouring and it didn’t take him long to climb into the tub and have a full body experience.


One of the first sensory play activities I ever set up involved small grains and beans, and I’d have to say packing peanuts are easier to clean up.  They do tend to float around a bit so I ended up tucking the play area into a corner on the hardwood floor in an effort to contain the mess. I let the packing peanut play happen for a few days before I offered them back up to our Freecycle community.