Sensory toys are great for kids ad adults alike. They are a fun way to elevate stress. However, not all sensory toys are created equal. Some of the most fun are also the easiest to break. It is pretty easy to run to the nearest Dollar Store to pick up more, but here is another easy solution that is also nice for the planet. Upcycle those broken parts into new sensory toys.


  • Broken sensory toy bits
  • Balloons
  • Funnel

If you don’t have a funnel handy, here’s a quick way to upcycle one.


All you’ll need is a plastic bottle and a pair of scissors.


Remove the cap and punch a hole in the side of the bottle with a pair of scissors.


Cut all the way around and now you have a simple funnel. Bonus: You can also put the cap back on, sand the edges, and make a cute cup great for tea parties or party sampling.

Here are a few suggestions. The process is essentially the same, but it will give you an idea of what you can use to make new sensory toys.


Upcycled Sensory Toys Four Ways


Sensory Toy #1: Squishy Things

Gather ripped/broken squishy toys. These were a collection of wall crawlers and a squish spider, which were quickly ripped to shreds by eager 4-year-olds.


Attach the balloon to the bottom of the funnel.


Start stuffing.


Continue until the balloon is full or your run out of squishy stuff.


Remove the balloon from the funnel, tie the end, and you’re ready to squeeze.



Sensory Toy #2: Bead Toys

Many of the kids that I work with enjoy the sensation of things filled with those annoying little plastic beads. Unfortunately, those toys are prone to holes and the beads get everywhere.


Poor Mike has seen better days. He had a good 5-year run before I put him into retirement.


Once you notice they toy is leaking, expand the hole with scissors.


Attach the balloon to the funnel and begin filling it with beads.


Tie it up and squeeze away. If you are concerned about getting a hole in the balloon, you can also put the first balloon into a second for peace of mind.


Sensory Toy #3: Slime

This is a great way to upcycle slime that has gotten discolored, watery, or sticky over time.


Attach the balloon to the funnel, pour in the slime, and tie off the balloon. You can add multiple types of slime/goo to the same balloon for different textures.


Squeeze away.


Sensory Toy #4: Water Beads

I hate the feeling of water beads so I have never purchased them. But I did get a free ice pack filled with something similar to water beads. The kids I worked with loved it, but eventually it got a hole in it. I put it in a balloon and they still enjoy it. Tip: You can use clear or lightly-colored balloons so that the water beads are visible inside, added to its coolness factor.


Same technique as the previous ones: attach balloon to funnel, dump water beads in, tie off, and away you go.




If you are feeling extra creative, see if any of the other toy scraps can be used in new ways. I have used the empty rubber casings (such as Mike) to hide smaller toys or act as costumes for figurines. You can also put a ball inside to make a character bouncy ball. You can also experiment to see if they have cool effect, such as this Sulley toy that used to be filled with water. After it popped, I found that the empty casing would slowly refill with air after squished. The kids I work with enjoy watching it magically re-inflate.


One thought on “Upcycled Sensory Toys

  1. Sensory items are also important for those affected with dementia . Thank you for sharing your ideas on inexpensive alternatives to the purchased sensory items. .

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