Baby and Toddler Sensory Play with Hair Rollers

Make a fun little sensory play activity for babies and toddlers using some coloured hair rollers in different sizes! Such a lovely, tactile exploratory experience and great for little hands to develop co-ordination and motor skills along the way.

Baby play activity with hair rollers

I’m a huge lover of scouring the £1 shops (a real teacher habit I think!)  and recently saw these packets of bright pink and black hair rollers, sold in sets of three sizes that nest inside each other. They looked like they might be fun for something so we took them home, put them out in a basket as an Invitation to Play for baby Bean to discover!
Baby sensory play activity with hair rollers

The rollers made a wonderfully tactile sensory play material and Bean spent a while just exploring them, turning them over and running her fingers over their surface. The bristles make the rollers stick together and that was fun for her to find out as she picked up two at a time and pushed them together, then pulled apart again repeatedly.Nesting and posting hair rollers in baby play

She is particularly interested at the moment in putting objects inside boxes and containers, and found that the little rollers could slot inside the bigger ones. I also showed her that there was  medium side roller and that all three could fit inside each other, and once she had seen this she was determined to put them all inside each other in the basket. She concentrated for a long while on being able to accomplish her self-directed task and was really pleased with her achievement!Baby playing with hair rollers

Of course her big sisters were excited to play too and added some long wrapping paper tubes too, for pushing the rollers onto. This added some more stability to the construction side of play, and they used them as part of imaginative play games too.

Building and constructing with hair rollers

Cakie made some simple patterns with alternating colours and they both loved building towers and structures which Bean then wanted to pull apart and knock over (as is a baby’s main aim in life, naturally!)
pattern making with rollers

These will make a good addition to the loose parts we have in baskets for open ended play, and combine really well with other construction materials. [You can see our loose parts discovery boxes here.]

Building sculptures with hair rollers

What they are learning as they play:
physical: rolling, grasping, baby grip, pincer grasp, stacking, knocking, standing up, nesting, building
discovery: exploring the world around them and new materials using all the senses, exploring textures, finding out about adhesion and pulling apart
phse: perseverence to achieve a goal, self-directed play, concentration, finding out new things, independent play, curiosity
creativity: using one object to represent another during imaginative play, making structures and models
Bean: 16 mos
Cakie: 4.10
Pop: 3.3


  1. says

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who buys random things from poundshops and uses them as toys. I’ve got a packet of hair curlers just like those waiting for an activity. And the bendy hair curlers were also a great hit as “water-snakes” in water sensory box!

  2. Hayley says

    i have set up this activity for my reception class but also added in scourer sponges as the velcro rollers stick to them – my class made a fab train!

  3. Barno says

    Hi, there, it’ s a very good idea, really. I am working at a baby room at the moment and I found it very interesting. Please if you tell me what phase stands for. Many thanks. Barno