The knowledge of the importance of sensory play for children has grown significantly over the years. Sensory activities are those that stimulate one or all of the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Young children, especially babies and toddlers, are constantly learning by utilizing their senses, which makes sensory play a great learning apparatus as well as a stress reliever.
These activities encourage children to use different processes in their play, including motor skills, aid in their development of these skills, and refine their sensory thresholds, which basically means they give children information as to how they are affected by the things around them. They also assist in helping them to understand their bodies’ reaction to certain stimulants. What does a lemon taste like? What does squeezing this object do? What does spinning in circles for a long time do? Can I shake this and make a noise? Why does it make a noise? Sensory play answers these and many other related questions your children may have.
Some fun (and relatively mess free) sensory play ideas are:
1. Frozen shaving cream
2. Homemade shakers (jars with rice, beans, nuts, or seeds)
3. Lights and shadows (different light intensities and their effects on shadows)
4. Homemade, edible finger paints
5. Sensory bin (a large container -big enough for a toddler- and one that is inside and smaller containing different objects of varying shapes, colors and sizes. The big bin traps all the mess!)
Along with being a way for children to learn more about their reactions to different stimuli, sensory play can also provide a great deal of comfort. Squeezing play dough or playing with shakers can be very cathartic, so keep them on hand for the next time your children need a quick source of distraction and comfort.
There are many internet sites with sensory activities. Try this one to start as it breaks down sensory activities based on each specific sense that is the focus: CLICK HERE