Sensory Play – What is it? Why is it important? Here’s everything you need to know to create stimulating Sensory Play learning experiences for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers!
Sensory Play is activities that stimulate your child’s senses – touch, taste, sight, smell & hearing. Sensory Play has tremendous value with endless creative learning opportunities for children to explore, play and investigate.
Presenting inviting materials and experiences spark curiosity, imagination & exploration. As well as developing cognitive, language, social, motor & imaginary skills. These play materials can be inexpensive, taste safe and able to be used over & over. Make your Sensory Play enticing by adding characters and props fitting to your child’s likes and interests. Through play, the learning will occur naturally!
The options are endless – Go through your pantry, what can you find? Below are some of our favourites!
- Rolled Oats
- Corn Flour
- Baby Rice Cereal
- Popcorn Kernels
- Broad Beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
How do I contain the mess? You may be reluctant to set up such activities for your children in fear of having to individually pick up 10,000 tiny rice grains (…been there, done that). Using large tubs, bowls and mats, help to define boundaries and contain mess. Drop cloths are a life saver! Before getting started, I tape a bed sheet (or plastic table cloth) to the floor and place a large tub in the middle. There will be some mess; but explaining & enforcing your boundaries before play makes it manageable! Teaching boundaries also helps your child to develop body awareness and self control.
How do I dye the ingredients? To dye your Sensory ingredients, place them in a zip lock bag and add a few drops of food colouring. We also include a few drops of essential oils (for scent) or rubbing alcohol to evenly disperse the colour (this is optional). Shake the bag around and add more colouring if needed to achieve your desired colour. Pour the ingredients out onto a baking paper covered tray and place in the oven on low for a few minutes.
We store our Sensory Play materials in airtight containers & ziplock bags.
Sensory Play for babies is all about exploring the world through their senses. Place your baby in a large tub and experiment with different textures. Cooked pasta, rice, baby cereal or ice make great, taste safe play materials for babies. For an enriching sensory experience, minus the mess, try our DIY Discovery Bottles!
Toddlers explore materials & supplies in short bursts of time. Basically making as much mess as possible! Simply adding items from the kitchen such as cups, funnels & spoons make great props for Toddlers to pour, fill & empty. As they get older and are able to focus their attention on activities for longer, adding characters and props will help develop language through dramatic & imaginary play.
Preschoolers have a vivid imagination & often relive real-life experiences through dramatic & imaginary play. They have a longer attention span and are able to focus on particular projects, ideas & activities. Through Sensory Play, Preschoolers are learning to use descriptive & expressive language, as well as developing prewriting skills through these hands on experiences.
Here’s an example of a wet & dry Sensory Play set-up! Construction Diggers & Dino’s are often found in our Sensory bins. We made a thick, sloppy mud that our Dino’s got stuck in – thankfully the Diggers were there to help! You can find our taste-safe mud recipe here. Dying pasta & rice for sensory play is super easy! We themed this Sensory Bin green & gold for Australia Day! We even added some Eucalyptus oil!