Some of you may be wondering, “What exactly is sensory play, and why is it important?’” Personally, we first started learning about sensory play about 4 years ago, when one of my children was diagnosed with a speech disorder coupled with severe anxiety. One of our doctors recommended incorporating more sensory play opportunities in our daily routine, as it may help calm her anxiety and encourage language development. I am a total researcher, so I got reading, and was amazed at what I found! I immediately started making play dough, putting together sensory bins, and even bought an at home music class DVD that we used together. Evie was, as expected, an extremely frustrated child because she was not able to communicate, and using sensory experiences truly did help calm her frustrations. It has truly been incredible to see how her behavior and language have grown and improved through sensory play.
To give you a little more information, I put together the top 5 benefits of sensory play:
Builds nerve connections in the brain that, in turn, enable your child to complete more complex learning tasks.
Supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills and social interaction.
Has been proven to calm kids who are anxious or frustrated due to different circumstances.
Allows kids to learn different sensory attributes- hot, cold, sticky, dry, wet, etc. Develops their awareness of their senses in the most effective way possible- hands on!
We love that our play dough kits provide an incredible sensory experience with everything your children need to explore their senses and a fun, safe, and imaginative way!
However, there are so many other easy ways your kids can get involved ins ensory play. Early on, sensory play can be beneficial for kids who are sensitive to certain food textures, like the slimy-ness of spaghetti or the mushiness of baby food. Allowing the child to explore that texture by touching, feeling, and playing with it in an environment with no expectations can help the child develop a better understanding of the texture, which in form develops pathways in the brain that says it’s okay to eat.
For babies, sensory play can be something as easy as blowing bubbles and watching them float through the air and then feeling them pop on their skin. Giving your baby some wrapping paper and letting them watch it change as they listen to it rip and feel the texture change from smooth to crinkled as they play with it. Or simply letting them feed themselves, and feel the different types of food between their fingers, smell it, taste it.
For toddlers, letting them explore with finger paints is messy, but definitely a great sensory activity. They can watch the colors mix and change and feel the wet and slimy texture of the paint on their hands. Water is another fabulous sensory activity thats definitely mess free (outside!) Scooping and pouring, discovering items that sink/float.
Preschoolers can enjoy sensory play by making shapes using molds with kinetic sand, squishing and rolling out play dough, or exploring with dry pantry items, such as rice or beans.
The easiest and best way to engage in sensory play is simply by getting outside! Let your child feel the grass beneath their feet, the cool breeze brush across their face. Listen to the birds chirp and sing, watch butterflies flutter and squirrels dart up trees, smell flowers and freshly cut grass, observe the shapes and textures of different rocks and feel the heat of the sun on their skin. Just by going outside all of your child’s senses are engaged… if only it weren’t so dang hot in Texas!