On Tuesdays, I like to look at topics related to early childhood and I thought that for today it would be fun to look at Sensory play.
Sensory play is all that messy play kids just love to be involved in. Children love squishing, smooshing, rolling things like sand, playdough, mud, and even your favorite lipstick! However, it’s interesting and very helpful to know that this messy play does in fact play a huge role in children’s learning experience.
Sensory play refers to any activity which stimulates a child’s five senses. Touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. Sensory play is so important because it helps their brains develop the ability to perform more complex learning tasks.
Sensory play reinforces language development, problem-solving skills, cognitive development social interaction as well as fine and gross motor skills.
So what are some activities that will encourage sensory play?
Here is a list of 6 activities you might like to try with your child
6 Fun Sensory Activities
1. Shaving Cream
This is super simple because all you need is a tray and shaving cream. It smells good and it’s easy to clean up (sort of!) Children just love swirling and squeezing the shaving cream through their fingers. Using their fingers, children can write their names in the shaving cream or draw pictures, do lines squiggles, and patterns.
At preschool to make things even more interesting, we sometimes add pipettes and food coloring. The children can squeeze food coloring into the shaving cream and it becomes a sensory color mixing experience. How fun is that!
All you need to make goop is 2 cups of cornflour and 1 cup of water and mix all this in a large tub. You can leave it white or add food coloring. The kids love this because the cornflour and water mixture has such a unique and interesting texture. It’s kind of solid and then it will turn runny.
I can’t lie, this activity is a little messy and takes a bit more effort to clean up but it is well worth it. It won’t stain or damage anything as it washes very easily but I would recommend wearing a biohazard suit, ahem… I mean an apron.
To make slime all you need is a large tub, 1 cup of soap flakes, 3 cups of warm water, food coloring, and a whisk or electric beater. When you beat all the ingredients together it turns into a thick foamy substance that looks a bit like beaten egg whites.
Kids just love getting their hands right into the slippery, slimy tub. You could also add things like funnels and containers for them to use. Offering two different slime colors will also allow them to mix colors.
4. Rice Play
At preschool, we have a really great sensory table always available in the classroom. We like to change it up every week to offer different sensory play experiences, but rice is always popular and on repeat.
Sometimes we give the kids bottles and spoons so they can fill up their bottles with rice. Takes a bit of concentration to get the rice into the bottles through the small opening. Other times we have funnels or measuring cups.
Another favorite is adding treasure (sequins) to the rice. The kids then have to use their pincer grips to try and get the enticing treasure out of the rice. The more they can collect the more they can take home!
5. Squishy Bags
Squishy bags are great for manipulating and playing with. All you need to make one is a zip lock bag, tape, and things like glue, paint, or shaving cream.
We make our squishy bags at preschool using cell mix. It’s a non-toxic powder mixed with water that makes a clear gel-like substance. We also use this to make paints and glue.
It’s fun to add two different colors for the children to mix for themselves in the squishy bags. Word of warning- make sure to tape up the opening of the bags as best as you can. We inevitably end up with a bag split open due to too much sensory excitement!
6. Sand Trays
At preschool, we sometimes bring the sand inside the classroom for some fun sensory play. We use trays half-filled with sand and we provide simple things like sticks for them to ‘draw’ with. Another favorite is when we hide some plastic insects or small dinosaurs in the sand trays.
It’s Time To Try Some Fun Sensory play!
Messy play can be very educational and these simple sensory activities will give young children amazing learning opportunities. Go ahead and try some, you’ll be surprised how fun they can really be!
If you’re looking for some other activities for preschoolers and toddlers, you can find some great painting activities here.