Benefits of Sensory Play For Children
Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s not only children with difficulties related to social integration that can benefit from sensory play but something all children can benefit from.
The benefits of sensory play for toddlers and babies go beyond simply having fun with your child. As parents, sensory activities can be used at home to encourage children to explore this amazing world with their senses. In addition, sensory activities don’t need to be complex, and there are things such as specifically designed sensory tables that can help you keep your home neat and tidy.
Humans and animals use their senses to explore their environment, and of course, children are no different. While there are five primary senses (taste, smell, touch, sight and sound) known as external senses, there are also internal senses like balance and positioning. Sensory activities differentiate from other types of play because there is a massive emphasis on tangible, expressive play. This article will teach you what sensory play is, give you some examples of sensory play for toddlers and babies, and detail some of the benefits of sensory play.
What is Sensory Play?
Sensory play refers to any activity that stimulates your child’s senses. This sense could be hearing, tasting, touching, smelling or seeing. Some parents use dough and cold pasta to encourage sensory play, and it really doesn’t need to be any more complex than that. Painting your finger or jumping in piles of leaves are great examples of sensory play.
It dramatically benefits children because they can learn about and explore the world through their senses. This isn’t something you need to overthink. Babies are already using their senses to investigate and explore their environment right from when they come out of the womb, so it only makes sense to encourage them in what is a natural behaviour.
So, it is something your children do without even having to learn it, but some sensory play does require teaching them how it’s done. All you need to do is make sure you allow and encourage your children to keep exploring with all their senses.
Sensory Play for Toddlers and Babies
Sensory play for toddlers and babies is fun and is usually easy to set up, but sometimes it can be challenging to think of ideas to help children engage in sensory activities; that’s why our team here at Little Scholars has put together this list of activities for toddlers and babies.
Create a Sensory Bin
A sensory bin is just a container used to hold your child’s sensory playthings.
To create a sensory bin, just fill a small container with things that have an interesting feel or texture, such as leaves, stones, sand, shredded paper or anything else you can think of.
Whilst there are a wide variety of objects and materials that can be included in a sensory bin it is important to bear in mind that children love to explore not just with their hands, but also with their mouths – choking hazards need to be taken into account! If you do choose to include objects that your child may put in their mouth, be sure to supervise them at all times.
Sensory Play with Food
Playing with food can be fun but messy. However, allowing your child to play with food by tasting, smearing or squishing can give them a sensory experience they won’t soon forget. If you are unsure about encouraging food play, just remember that sensory food play isn’t mealtime. For example, you can use cornmeal as sand if you are indoors, or you can give them some Rice Bubbles to crack, but make sure they understand it is a special occasion and they don’t start sticking their hands in their dinner! Helping you decorate cakes and other baked goods is another example of sensory play that your children can participate in and one that you can even show off to your friends.
To create a sound tube for your little one and to connect them with the auditory world around them, here’s what you need to do:
First, save a few empty paper towel rolls. Then duct tape one end of the rolls, or seal them in another way, and add different materials inside each tube, like dried beans or uncooked rice. Finally, seal the other end of the tube and there you have it, a fun auditory sensory toy!
6 Benefits of Sensory Play for Toddlers
It strengthens the connection in a child’s brain and develops their learning skills
When you encourage your children to play with their senses, this helps to create unique pathways in their brains.
Sensory play is also great for your children because it teaches them to be little scientists, discovering how the world works through trial and error. With the use of scientific reasoning, they will learn how to solve problems efficiently.
It develops and enhances children’s memory
Sensory play also helps your child to retain information. Learning new letters, words, numbers, textures, sounds, movements – you name it – stimulates your child’s brain and helps to light up the areas of the brain associated with memory.
It teaches children valuable life skills
Another benefit of sensory play is that it helps children learn a wide range of life skills that they will carry for the rest of their lives. For example, your baby can learn problem-solving and social skills like sharing and planning. It also helps develop motor skills in your child, like cutting and pouring.
It enhances cognitive development
Sensory play also helps cognitive development in your child. As babies, everything to them is unique, and most experiences are new experiences. So they see everything as an opportunity to learn.
It improves motor skills
One of the most significant benefits of sensory play is that it increases their coordination, strength, and motor skills just by having fun and interacting with various objects in different ways.
It enhances the development of social skills
With the help of sensory play, your children will be able to interact with each other and the environment around them. Children are curious, and by observing and playing with their little friends, they can learn faster. It also helps build cooperation, promotes teamwork, and allows children to be creative and share ideas.
It can… help your child eat more vegetables?
That’s right! One of the most interesting recent findings in regard to sensory play is that it can help your child eat more vegetables! By allowing children to physically play with a food first, researchers found that the child was far more likely to eat it than if they didn’t play with it. Incredible!
How We Incorporate Sensory Play Into our Daily Activities
Little Scholars is a privately-owned and operated childcare and early learning service providing quality early education and care for children across SE Queensland, and we take sensory play very seriously (or…. not so seriously!).
We offer you and your child the very best facilities, resources and early educational, play-based programs available, which are underpinned by the early years learning framework. Our belief is that through quality education and care for children we can also encourage, assist and support the entire family.
Our dedicated team of educators are committed to the individual needs and interests of children and their families, and thus we encourage and welcome family input and involvement.
We aim to be like an extension of your family and are very relationship-driven. We foster nurturing relationships between our educators and your child, the relationships your child has with the other children who attend, and we value our relationship with you as the parent and other family members. So book a tour today to get started!