Spring break means lots of free time and bored kids and parents want to maximize this time with their children. Here's a collection of brain-building activities designed to develop and refine your child's cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative, and linguistic skills.

Research shows that sensory play activates connections in the brain's pathways, enhancing a child's ability to learn and retain information. By utilizing the five senses, children develop skills to solve complex problems, boost self-confidence, strengthen core muscles and agility, expand imagination and improve language.

Here are eight activities to encourage your child to use his or her five senses.

Sense of Taste

Taste Match Game

There are five primary taste sensations:

  • sweet
  • salty
  • sour
  • bitter
  • umami (savory)

Gather up 3-4 different foods that fit into the above categories. Taste each of the items and discuss whether it tastes sweet, salty, sour, bitter, or savory.

Edible Kool-Aid Paint

Pour the contents a Kool-Aid packet into a container, add 1 tbsp. of water, and 2 tsp of flour to each container. Mix well and paint!

Sense of Touch

Discover Nature

Collect a variety of nature items such as pinecones, rocks, sand and shells and place them in a brown paper bag. Have your child feel each item, describe the texture, and guess what the item is.

Blind Nature Walk

Gather a variety of nature items that your child would be able to walk across, such as sand, leaves, dirt, smooth rocks and grass. Blindfold your child and lead them across each item, have them describe the texture, and guess what each item is.

Sense of Hearing

Listening Walk

Head outside to do a listening scavenger hunt. The list coulc include, a barking dog, a car door slamming, airplanes overhead, bird chirping, children giggling, wind in the trees, or anything else you expect to hear. Mark each item off the list as you hear it. 

Sense of Smell

Scented Rice Bin

Dissolve any variety of Jell-O in a small amount of boiling water and mix with dried rice, spread evenly on a cookie sheet and allow to dry. Place in a large bin with small plastic containers, measuring spoons, and cups for kids to play.

Sense of Sight

Observation and Memory Game

Collect 10-15 items and set them on a tray. Give your child one minute to observe and then remove items from sight. Have your child write down what items they remember. Test their memory by asking specific questions, such as "What color was the marker?"


An oldie, but a goodie! Kick it up a notch by creating your own I-Spy Book. With just a little imagination (and help from Pinterest), you too can have a sensational spring break!

Alexis Sanghera is a registered play therapist with Methodist Family HealthMethodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3-17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers and other services.