Sensory Play & Child Development
Sight, smell, sound, taste & touch – the five basic senses that help us make sense of the world around us. As a child, these senses allow us to explore the world around us and form experiences for a lifetime. As children grow, they begin to interact with their environment and these interactions help them learn. Thus, involving these five senses in their everyday activities helps them prepare for their life ahead.
What Is Sensory Play?
Sensory play refers to the activities where children actively stimulate and use their senses. Commonly, sensory play involves stimulating touch, sight and hearing senses as they are more accessible. These activities encourage children to use their senses to play, create, investigate and explore.
Why Is Sensory Play Important To Child Development?
Research suggests that sensory play builds nerve connections in a child’s brain pathway. When a child indulges in new and frequent sensory experiences, they improve their ability to complete more complex learning tasks. Sensory play is hands-on and self-centred and thus encourages children to be independent, curious and creative. It builds observational skills, abstract thinking and problem-solving.
Sensory Play Ideas & Activities
If you want to set up sensory play activities for your children but are worried about the how, when and where, don’t worry – we’ve got your covered. Sensory play need not be elaborate or costly. It is often very simple to set up and loads of fun. We have a list of sensory play ideas that your kid will love.
1) Food play
Remember cake-smash baby photos? Kids inherently treat food as a toy so why not make it a sensory experience that helps them learn. Enlist their help in smashing boiled potatoes, kneading dough, rolling rotis and so on.
Hone your child’s musical skills by encouraging them to create instruments using items found around the house – empty metal boxes, dried beans in a container, a paper flute and so on.
Consider investing in a sandbox or making one by filling an empty carton with sand and watch as your child gets entranced by it. Provide them with small cups to build sandcastles or hide artificial gems for a treasure hunt – a sandbox opens various possibilities for sensory play.
4) Obstacle course
Use cushions, chairs, bedsheets etc to make a fun, indoor obstacle course and let your kid go wild as they learn how to navigate.
5) Nature play
On your next trip to the park, ask your kid to collect fallen leaves, flowers and twigs. Once back home, draw outlines of trees, flowers and butterflies and ask them to fill them up with their nature collection.
So, the next time you see your child play with random objects, encourage them. Let them explore and learn about the world on their terms and nurture their senses. However, while choosing a sensory play activity for your kid, consider which ideas are developmentally appropriate, safe and suitable for the age of your little one.