Baby Play: Texture Tiles

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Texture tiles have been a big hit at my storytimes (though not quite as successful as my coworker’s liquid sensory tiles–more on those in another few weeks). Various textured items are hot glued, zip tied, or otherwise secured to foam puzzle tiles.

I put these out in a big stack, and the kids decide whether they want to interact with individual tiles or if they want to connect different tiles together.

Textures can include:

  • Sandpaper
  • Cardboard
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Felt
  • Foam
  • Carpet Square
  • Craft Sticks
  • Thin Wood
  • Pom Poms
  • Googly Eyes
  • Fur
  • Memory Foam
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Rocks/Moss
    • I found circular, pre-made thin “stepping stones” at Michaels a few years ago. The rocks seem to be permanently fixed to the thin sheet, as I’ve never had one break off. I can’t find a similar item online at the moment–if you know of something like this, please share in the comments below.

How to Make Texture Tiles

Materials: 12″ x 12″ foam puzzle tiles, various sensory surfaces (I used what was on hand), hot glue


  • Decide how many tiles you are going to make.
  • Cut textures to smaller than the size of the tiles (about 10″ x 10″)
  • Hot glue to attach textures to tiles (or use other adhesives as necessary).
  • After glue has dried, thoroughly test all surfaces to make sure items are stuck to the tiles.

Cost: $25+

Time to Make: 30 minutes

Pro-Tip: Make sure to check these tiles after each use, especially if you plan to attach smaller items (pom poms, googly eyes, rocks, etc.). After many weeks of using these, I have a fairly good idea which tiles will need reinforced.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • How does that surface feel?
  • Which texture do you like best—the bumpy one or the squishy one?
  • Can you hop on the soft part?
  • Can you walk very slowly?
  • What happens when you step on that surface?
  • What color is that texture?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:





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