12 rubber duck Sensory Play Ideas for Babies & Toddlers

Jump to recipe

My son and I love rubber duckies! I introduced sensory play ideas when he was a baby and it quickly became something we did every afternoon (outside). I’m a total believer in letting kids explore and get messy! and I encourage you to do it at home too!

Rubber duckies are not only for bath time. They are also for learning and playing outside of the bathtub.

This fun activity will work on sensory exploration and eye-hand coordination.

If you want to learn and recreate our themed sensory play idea we did last week’s sensory class, see below the recipe and I’ll tell you all about it! I’m also adding a few other ideas you can do to expand this theme for the whole week.

Baby Sensory play low on the ground
Toddler Sensory Play using a sensory table

Create a theme to expand learning

Little learners need to learn how to play and use their imagination. Because of this, I usually create my sensory play weekly activities around a theme or book.

I found the cutest rubber duckies at the dollar store so I knew that was my starting point for last week’s sensory play idea.

I went on a mission to look for a book that had duckies as the main character to match my recently found purchase.

Provide sensory play ideas that will help enhance those brain connections.


When you set up a story around the sensory play, little learners tend to play more with the material.


Because you are teaching them to use their imagination starting from an existing story or play.

You might think that babies and toddlers might not understand the book or the connection from the book to the sensory play activity using the rubber ducks, but that’s not true.

Babies and toddlers are sponges and are taking in every bit of information about the world around them. They are making connections between the story and the rubber ducks sitting in front of them. They learn using all of their senses, so let’s take advantage of that and show them our sensory play idea using multiple senses.

How to Play

Use a book to enhance your sensory bin theme

Choose a book that features a duck or several ducks and read it to your little one before introducing the sensory bin. Below is a list of great books featuring ducks you can use. Click the red title to see pricing on Amazon.com

Start reading the story to your little one as they hold one of the rubber duckies. This will help then tie the character of the book with the object in hand and increase learning through all the different senses.

Duck Chase was the book we read and it came with our subscription box.

Our story is about a duck that has a nest and one duck runs away, so Panda has to go chase it up the hill and down and bring him back to mama duck. In the end one of the ducks scapes again and…..

…. and now we have to be “Panda” and go find the ducks.

At this point, I introduced the sensory bin so the kids could go find the runaway ducks.

Books Featuring Ducks

Introduce sensory Play To Match the book

Create a sensory duck pond using a sensory bin, some water, blue food coloring, and rubber ducks.

Now your little learner has found the missing runaway ducks and can explore this fun set up.

Sensory Play Ideas: rubber ducks Step by Step Guide:

Step 1: Add food coloring to the sensory bin. The more drops you use of the food coloring, the darker the water is. For class, we used only two drops to make a light blue, and below we used four drops and a lot less water for a dark rich color.

Step 2: Mix the water with the food coloring and add the rubber ducks

sensory play ideas using rubber ducks

To ensure your little one plays with this for more than 5 minutes do this…

Add some learning opportunities to your sensory play

Start playtime only with the water and ducks, after a while introduces some bowls, cups and scooping materials they can place the ducks in, pour water and play.

Math Skills

Add some math learning activities by counting each duck as you hold them and scoop them out.

Color recognition

Work on colors as you describe the color of the ducks and the water

Introduce new materials like to cut out pool noddles or toy boats and take away the cups and scoops to continue to extend playtime by creating new gaming opportunities.

Other Sensory play ideas using Rubber Ducks to use at home

I teach the class once a week but I have a little learner at home that needs entertainment every day all day long.

Sometimes I use the same theme all week long. I have used apple theme week and it was so much fun! This helps when I work with vocabulary and when I know there are a lot of activities I can do around the same subject.

If you want to extend the duck theme for the whole week, then here are more rubber duck sensory play ideas that are a lot of fun!

Note: a lot of the activities found on Pinterest when you search for “duck activities” are aimed for preschool-aged kids, because of that, I have to adjust the activities to work on concepts aimed for little learners zero to three.

Rubber Duck 5 little duck Song

You can’t go wrong when using puppets or songs with babies and toddlers. So, of course, the first activity to add on is the 5 little duck song. Incorporate this during diaper changes, while you are waiting at the red light or even when you are bored in the living room.

5 little ducks Song Lyric

All the little ducks – Finger Play

This finger-play action song is super fun to learn and act out.


When we are short on time and need a quick activity that goes with the duck theme, I use the Old Mc Donald Had a Farm Rhyme interactive sheet or the 5 little ducks rhyme from WHAT TO TEACH – ONE YEAR OLD and practice our animal sounds.

The velcro makes this super interactive and toddlers love it!


Practicing sounds and vocabulary is a major milestone to be worked on. I use the Duck theme lesson plan from MY FIRST SCHOOL CURRICULUM that has a full week with 5 activities I can do at home using the duck theme. Our favorite is the finger puppet activity!

Rubber Duck Sensory Bag

A sensory bag is a great activity especially for those little learners that still put everything in their mouth. They are easy to set up and a lot of fun. Just add some water, some Lilly pads made up from foam sheets and seal tightly with duct tape.

Rubber Ducks and Shaving Cream

A sensory bin filled with shaving cream is another fun way to incorporate ducks into playtime. You might think that the concept is all the same, but for your little learner, a new material, a different bin creates a whole new experience.

Rubber Ducks swimming in Cotton balls

Pretend play is super important for development, so what about a bubble bath using no soap and no water but cotton balls instead? super fun! and of course less messy! Work on that pinching skill and try to grab each cotton ball one by one using the index and thumb or even prongs for the older toddler.

Rubber Ducks playdough Kits

Playdough is a great activity to work on fine motor skills. Pinterest and Instagram have a million invitation to play ideas and I have even seen people that sell theme-center kits. In my experience, playdough is great for kids 20 months and up. Younger ones can start experimenting poking and feeling the texture, but not until 20 months I see they really enjoy molding it and doing some pretend-play.

Change the color changes the activity

Are you working on the color of the week or month? then change the color of the water to yellow using yellow food color and practice the color yellow!

Rubber Ducks footprints

I love using paint, and this activity is easier to do with the babies than the toddlers as you can maneuver their feel better than a wiggling toddler.

Stamping Using Rubber Ducks

Since you already have the paint out, you might as well do more than one craft project. Using rubber ducks to stamp and creating fun designs is a great afternoon project.

Ready, Set, Play!

Which activity is you most excited about trying?

Head over to the library or your favorite book store and grab a few duck books to work on this week. You now have all the tools to set up a full week (or even two) of sensory play activities related to ducks!