I'm always on the lookout to try new sensory activities with Violet and get a lot of inspiration from the groups we attend. Although a lot of the time, she plays with expensive toys while we're out, I'm always keen to replicate things on a budget.
At one of our groups, Violet loves playing with the 'farm', which includes some artificial grass and other textures, then some farmyard animals. After doing a quick Google search, I found that pretty much all artificial grass companies offer free samples to try out the different types at home. This worked perfectly for us, to make our own little farmyard at home. The samples we received are not particularly big, but certainly do the job and are the perfect size for little hands. We were able to order a few different styles too, so Violet can play around with a little more texture.
The farmyard animals at our baby group are far more pricey than these that I picked up in Wilko for £1 each (which FYI, is a great place for picking up cheap wooden toys too). They're really great quality, a good solid plastic that can definitely take some wear and tear and again, are full of different textures for V to experience. And I know for £1 I will be happy to take these into the garden in the summer and we can do some more play outside.
We signed up to a few different artificial lawn websites to claim our free samples, so we have plenty to choose from and play around with. It's definitely worth looking online if you're wanting to pick up some more cheap or free ideas for imaginative play with your little ones.
Let me know if you pick any of these up!