What is Sensory Play?
Sensory play is the process of stimulating your child’s senses, through structured activities and play. Each play session can be designed to bring alive one or more of the five senses; sight, taste, touch, smell and sound. There are plenty of toys on the market for babies and toddlers, that stimu-late senses, but with just a few basic items, you can be as creative as possible and design your own play sessions. Kindergartens and play centers often have sensory rooms, particularly if they cater for children with additional needs, but there are lots of things that you can do at home, for little or no cost.
How Does Sensory Play Benefit my Child?
With varied activities that stimulate the senses, you will get an idea of your child’s preferred learning style and which of their senses are most stimulated, for example, one child may respond happily to learn numbers through the use of musical beats, while another child will prefer to learn about num-bers through finger painting. Sensory activities allow for lots of creativity, tailoring your child’s learn-ing to his/her preferences and not feeling restricted by traditional learning methods.
Sensory play may seem like it is just for fun, but your child will develop his/her physical, emotional and social skills, through play. By experiencing something new by using our senses, we take in more than we would by simply being told about something, even more so when we are young.
Babies and tod-dlers are busy developing their fine motor skills and gross motor skills, and sensory play is a great way to encourage this development in a fun and creative way, that will engage your child. If you think about some of your most memorable experiences, it is likely that you will remember what you ate, what music was playing on the radio and what the smell was in the air, as your senses worked together to take in all of that information and make it memorable. In a few years time, your child will remember those messy days in the garden, playing with their mud kitchen and learning all about science and nature as they played.
Easy Sensory Play Activities
If you have ever visited a play center or kindergarten, that has a sensory room, you may be think-ing that enjoying sensory play at home will be expensive. You will be glad to hear that there dozens of items around the home, that are great for sensory activities. Here are just a few household items that can be used for fun and educational play sessions with your little one
• Dried Pasta is great for adding texture to sensory tubs or for practicing threading
• Dried Beans are great for adding to old milk cartons or tubs, for homemade musical instru-ments
• Flour can be mixed with water, food coloring and food flavoring to make homemade play dough
• Cornflour can be used alongside food coloring to make homemade paints, for finger painting or footprint painting
• Fairy Lights can be used for visual stimulation. Simply attach to a cardboard box and pop your child inside
• Water can be used as it is or can be frozen (hiding dinosaurs inside is a good excavation activi-ty)
• Custard or Jello can be used in a large tub or baby bath, for messy play
These are just a few ideas, but you will find that you come up with lots of ideas once you get into the swing of looking at items in a sensory way. There are sensory play and educational websites, where you can pick up durable sensory items, such as sensory lights and large mirror cubes, which may be worth the investment if you see your child benefiting from sensory activities. If money is tight, there are lots of fun items that can be bought from dollar and discount stores, you just need to be as creative as possible. Watering cans, pots of slime, balls and faux grass can be bought and turned into hours of play.
As you can see, there is so much that you can do with everyday things around the house, to intro-duce sensory play to your child. Over the coming months, we will be sharing lots of sensory play ideas, including themed play and sensory tubs as well as lots of frugal ideas, using everyday household objects.
Best Sensory Play Resources
Here are a few of our favorite sites for sensory play ideas, to keep you occupied whilst you wait for our next sensory play blog
• Hands on as We Grow >
• The Imagination Tree > - Save it
• My Small Potatoes > - Save it
• The Artful Parent > - Save it
• Nurture Store > - Save it