Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates young chilren’s senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing.
From the very first day they are born, children are designed to explore the world via their senses. That’s why babies and toddlers touch everything and put it in their mouths. It’s why kids make funny noises with their mouths and experiment with how the world sounds with their fingers stuck in their ears.
Some people, when they think of sensory play, immediately picture sand and water tables or kids playing with clay and playdough. But sensory play isn’t all about touch, it’s also about the other senses, too.
For instance, the sharp scent of vinegar involved in a science experiment or the colors of water during a color mixing experiment or the texture and smells of scratch and sniff painting are all part of appealing to a child’s senses.
Playing with different types of textures and tasting and objects help your child build new ways of talking about the world.
Suddenly the tree is more than a tree, it’s a sapling with smooth bark, or it’s a pine tree with rough bark and a sharp pine scent. Water isn’t just wet, it can be rough (waves) or slippery with bubbles or cold and translucent when frozen or clear and still.
Sensory Play Benefits:
- Helps Fine Motor Skills
- Builds nerve connections
- Aids in developing and enhancing memory
- Great for calming an anxious or frustrated child
Examples of sensory learning activities:
Playing with Ballons
When the children are too young, it is dangerous for them to play with small objects, but it is still important for them to explore those. This is why it is recommended to use sensory bottles, filled with a great diversity of small objects that children will love exploring.
The best part of sensory play is that it provides an opportunity for every child to succeed. Children who struggle academically can find solace in sensory play. A simple act of running fingers through water beads is calming and therapeutic.