SENSORY PLAY FOR TODDLERS
If you’re on Pintrest then you have probably seen a plethora of pins about sensory activities. I myself have a large collection of pins that I can’t wait to try out. PBS has an article explaining the importance of sensory activities for children and some information on what sensory play involves.
The basic idea of sensory play is to engage the senses. Most of the sensory activities I have come across involve the sense of touch though sensory activities involving smell and taste are fun too. Try scented dough, smelling bottles, and tasting trays.
I have a personal theory that this trend of sensory play has come in response to the shift in time children spend inside versus outside during their childhood. Many of these “Sensory Activities” are the kind of experiences you would naturally have if you were to simply go outside to play for example playing with sand, water, plants and dirt.
Even if you do have access to an outdoor playspace (which is a requirement of a licensed facility) there may be times when you want to play indoors or are looking for a fun activity to try. Sensory activities can be simple or elaborate but many can be quickly prepared and set up in advance so you can quickly bring out the activity box to keep the children entertained. Keep in mind that most of these activities are quite messy, this blog has some tips for reducing the mess.
Squishy Sensory Play
Squishy materials like cooked pasta, gels, jello and water beads. Cooked pasta and soft steamed vegetables offer a sensory experience and double as a snack.
Slimy Sensory Play
These bring me back to those toys you could win from the arcade that you throw against the wall and they would stick there. Slimy gooey sensory fun.
Doughy Sensory Play
Playdough is a classic child’s sensory material and there are hundreds of variations online. You can find pins for soft dough, sticky dough, sparkly dough, sandy dough. There are also many free recipes for edible dough that can be served for snack time as well.
Grainy Sensory Play
Grainy sensory materials have a soothing sound when poured and a relaxing effect when they run over your skin. Think of letting handfuls of sand run through your fingers. This type of sensory play has a calming effect.
Liquid Sensory Play
Wet sensory play lends itself to summer and warm weather days. Use your water/sensory table if you have one or simply fill bins or buckets and place them outside for the children. Bringing the sensory play outside cuts down on the mess in the house and gives children the fresh air and sunshine they need. Just keep a close eye on any little ones when playing with water and be sure to empty out water containers after use.
Sensory play involving the sense of touch is fun for all ages. As an adult I can say I like the feeling of slime, water, goo… It’s no wonder that kids like to play with these materials. I also think part of the draw is that children are often not permitted to play with messy materials in their everyday life which probably just increases their desire to get their hands dirty!