Learning Activities · Sensory Play · Small Manipulatives

Simple Sensory Color Hunt

I am all about the simple supplies, set up and clean up! I love when I can throw an activity together in 5 minutes top and my little one is happy and content for 30 plus! Magical.

Today my little one was begging to do play dough, but I often get it out and she wants to take a break from it every 5 minutes. I knew I needed to think of a purpose for her play to keep her focused longer. Right now we are working on colors with the 2 year old so I went with colors for the theme. This activity could very EASILY be used to work on counting though.


  • Play dough (recipe here)
  • Colored beads
  • Tools to dig through play dough (optional)
  • Cookie sheet (to contain mess)


Set Up

  • Shove the colored beads into the dough (Don’t do too many because your child will find them quickly and it won’t be a challenge. Children like challenges!)
  • Place dough and a few tools down on a cookie sheet

Activity Time

Now it is time to introduce your little. Make it exciting. “Okay my little creature, I have some special dough here. I think there is some treasure hiding inside it. Do you think you can find it?”

As your child starts to pull out the beads you can ask them what color the bead is. My little girl would start to shout out the color the second she saw it because she was so excited. We talked about our favorite colors and which color had more beads.

After she found the beads once I hid them again and asked her to use the tools to dig out the beads. That made the activity feel brand new!

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Next my little hid the beads for herself. I helped her roll all the play dough up into a ball and she got started again. This activity kept her busy for 30+ minutes. As she started to loss interest I asked her if she could find all the beads to decorate some cookies and lolly pops I’d make her. BOOM, activity made new!


I almost forgot! I hid 1 BIG jewel in the dough. She knew it was special because there was only one. It was an extra treat when she would find that one. Not an important part of the learning process, but it made her smile extra big!


  • If you have kid bowls that match the colors of your bead you can use them as a way to encourage organizing the colors. Colored paper could work too! As your child picks out a bead have them place it on the correct paper or bowl. This encourages sorting and you can do some simple comparing and contrasting of the number of beads in each color.
  • If you want to focus on counting have your child line up their beads in a strait line. You could even DRAW a line on a piece of paper and write the numbers 1-10 above the line. Then your child can place their beads on the line and work on number recognition.
    • My 5 year old daughter LOVED this activity. She lined up 12 ponies and as she would find a bead she would place it in front of a pony. This was awesome because I could ask her, “How many ponies need a bead still?” Some GREAT math skills were introduced thanks to those obnoxious ponies I pick up all day long! Thank you ponies! HA!
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  • My cousin did this activity with her little one and she placed a few toothpicks in her play dough. As her child found a bead she encouraged her little one to put the bead on the toothpick. This is great small motor strengthening!

I hope this activity made you feel motivated to plan a super simple and fun moment of play for your child today!!! Let us know how it went!

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