Sensory Play and Learning
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child’s senses. These senses include taste, touch, hearing, smell and sight. Sensory play promotes learning and development and, in terms of learning, has many benefits. Sensory activities are extremely diverse and encourage free play where the child can explore senses using almost anything. These activities are generally very engaging for children and messy play helps children to improve their gross and fine motor skills as well as their concentration and coordination. So, switch off the television and let your little one use their senses to discover and explore their surroundings and develop their imagination and creativity by experimenting and investigating their surroundings.
What’s great about sensory play is that the number of activities is endless and that you can use such a diverse range of items for your child to play with. Often, the items are things that you can make at home or that you would have lying around like empty tissue rolls, empty bottles, bottle caps, rubber gloves and more. Here are some examples of fun and easy to set up sensory activities.
- Stuff rubber gloves with different fillings like rice, flour and let them squeeze and play with them. You can also get small bags and do the same thing.
- Stuff water balloons with oil for some wonderfully soft play!
- Shaving foam activity box – fill a big plastic box or tray with shaving foam and throw in some plastic numbers and letters then ask them to dig through the shaving foam and find the numbers and letters! Plenty of fun guaranteed!
- Rice tray – place rice (you can make this activity even more by making the rice colourful and eve scented) and give them little shovels and spoons to play with it. You can add in bottle tops and let them come up with activities to explore the set up. For added fun you can throw numbers, letters and shapes of different colours in and let your child find them.
- Sand. Children love to play with sand so let them get messy and revel in a sandy surrounding. Simply fill a box with sand and throw in anything from plastic animals to natural things like twigs and pebbles or educational items like numbers and letters. Sand play enhances eye and hand coordination and aids in the development of fine motor skills. Moulding the sand helps with the sense of touch.
- Play dough – let them get hands on with play dough and create different things, mix the colours and create all kinds of things. This promotes imaginative play.
You can even try a colour theme for each activity like blue rice with blue numbers and blue balloons. This will improve their sensory skills as well as teach them colours. Let your child learn to do things by themselves like peel a banana or take a bite. Quite often, parents just peel the banana for the child or sit and hold a drink but letting them do things, depending on age and abilities, helps them to learn faster.