So What Is Sensory Play?
Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates a young child’s senses such as: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing. Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through “sensory play” is crucial to brain development, as it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.
Bubbles are always fun, and you may think that it is just a simple activity. But did you know that blowing bubbles actually helps with language development in young children? When properly blowing a bubble, it helps to strengthen the muscles in the mouth that are used for speech.
Sand play of all types can be calming for a lot of children and can help them develop a sense of texture. We like this moon sand here because of the way you can mold and sculpt it. Playing with moon sand can strengthen the small muscles in the hand, which can help with pre-writing skills for a young child.
- 8 cups flour
- 1 cup baby oil
- (or essentially 1/4 cup baby oil for every 2 cups of flour)
- Pro Tip: Make this mixture outside on the grass, your carpet or flooring will thank us later!
Bring out any wash basin or small tub and let your children wash–baby dolls, toy trucks, cars, dishes, almost anything will work. Bring out the soap, sponges, and washcloths.
Water play boosts the senses by providing the opportunity for the children to feel the wetness, hear the splashing, taste the droplets, and see bubbles. It develops eye-hand coordination, math and science, concentration, social/communication, and physical skills, and can also help calm overwhelmed children.
Gather little items around the house that make different noises (dried beans, dried noodles, coins, small pieces of toys) and put them into a toilet paper roll or paper towel roll. Glue/tape/staple the end together and shake, shake, shake! Sound is often forgotten as a sensory mode, but is very important and can have a huge impact on future learning.
While it sounds like this may be messy, hear us out! Let your children tear up magazine pages or newspapers, cereal boxes, unwanted junk mail, etc. Tearing and being able to tear is the first step to being able to hold and use scissors correctly.