Did you know using all five senses to explore and learn is a vital part of early childhood development?
From the very first day they are born, children engage in sensory exploration to learn about the world around them. They use their senses to explore, discover, and learn, and as adults we can help them learn how to use their senses by engaging them in sensory play.
What is Sensory Play?
Sensory play encourages the development of fine motor skills as children use their hands to touch and feel, and can even build positive associations with previously disliked textures (wet foods – for example!). But it’s not just about the sense of touch. According to Goodstart Early Learning, sensory play includes any activity that stimulates a young child’s senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing, as well as anything that engages movement and balance.
Here at Port Discovery, we love exploring new types of play and activities that will help prepare little learners for their bright futures. Sensory play is a key area of focus for us as we encourage children to use their senses as they explore and try new things! And we love how easy-peasy these activities are to do at home!
Take a peek at our Sensory Play tips for Infants and Toddlers at home!
Sensory Play for Infants
- Blow bubbles and allow your child to touch them before they pop to connect sight and touch.
- Sing songs and play with musical instruments to enhance listening skills.
- Scarf play is a wonderful way to combine visual and tactile items, and a game of peek-a-boo makes it all the more fun!
- Put messy foods on the tray of the high chair to engage your little one in touching, smelling, and tasting a variety of foods. Then it’s straight to the tub or sink for even more sensory play with water!
Sensory Play for Toddlers
- Spray shaving cream on a plastic-wrapped table or baking sheet and let your little learner explore with their hands, brushes, and spoons. Add food coloring to connect the senses of smell, sight, and touch.
- Make DIY Rain Sticks using a cardboard tube and dried beans or uncooked rice. Cover the ends with fabric or paper and secure with rubber bands. Have your child decorate with stickers, paint, and glitter, and then let the auditory fun begin! Finger and/or sponge painting with child-safe paint
- Put Kinetic Sand, Slime or Water Beads in a Ziploc bag for your little one to feel and touch the many textures possible.
- Create a DIY Sensory Bin using a large plastic bin/container filled with objects that will stimulate the senses. Ideas include water beads, aquarium rocks, kinetic sand, beans, pom-poms, dirt with gardening tools…possibilities are endless!
Have fun encouraging your little one to tap into all of their senses as they not only have fun, but development motor skills, build nerve connections in the brain, and engage in language and social skill development!