Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore.
Children are inherently explorers and scientists. From watching an earthworm make its way in the grass to looking through magnifying glass to touching different surfaces, relying on sounds as they play hide and seek to smelling flowers, all of these casual and unintentional activities have a profound impact on a child’s senses.
With confining spaces and lack of time, we find more and more children spending greater amount of time indoors, which is where the need for deliberate sensory play in school and home gains paramount importance. But we often find parents asking us, “Is sensory play really that important?” Research by noted child experts and psychologists have concluded that sensory play impacts and enhances the way in which a child reacts to her/his surroundings, thereby enhancing their cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development. Notice how a child in a bad mood suddenly becomes happy when you make them a bath and they splash water and bathe their toys? Have you observed the concentration level in a child playing with sand making castles or playing with grains in your kitchen? That is the impact of sensory play in day-to-day life on your child’s psyche.
While sunny outdoors are the perfect natural setup for sensory play filled with tree barks, sand, plants, insects, flowers, swings and shrubs, weather and space can be a deterrent. Therefore you need to create an environment indoors to facilitate sensory play. Here are a few tips:
- Painting on various surfaces like paper, canvases walls (covered with sheets of recycled paper. This could be via hands, using eyedroppers, brushes
- Using stray pieces of wrapping material, ribbons, newspaper, disposable sticks to glue them together and narrate the process and the story
- Scribbling on used aluminum foil with marker pens
- Relying on story books, often mixed with sounds & dramatics
- Use music in different forms
TOUCH AND KINETIC
- Playing with bubble wrap
- Painting on a plain sheet of paper with feet
- Practicing children’s yoga through a variety of poses that are both fun and helpful for the children
- Obstacle course training at home through easily found objects like books, pillows, toys, and blankets
- Play guess game by introducing them to various spices
- Blindfold guess games as they touch objects to guess and smell them to guess what they are