As parents, we want to provide our children with the best possible environment for learning and development. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through sensory play. Sensory play involves engaging children’s senses in a fun and interactive way, which can help develop their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills. In this blog, we’ll explore the world of sensory play and provide a guide for parents to help them get started.
What is Sensory Play?
Sensory play involves providing children with opportunities to explore different materials and textures, such as water, sand, playdough, and more. These materials engage children’s senses and allow them to experiment, create, and discover through play. Sensory play can be messy, but it’s also an essential part of child development. You can find sensory playground equipment from providers such as Creative Play, who design, manufacture, and install the equipment across the UK.
The Benefits of Sensory Play
The benefits of sensory play are numerous for children, including:
- Cognitive development: Sensory play helps develop cognitive skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making.
- Physical development: Sensory play helps develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.
- Emotional development: Sensory play helps children express their emotions, develop their imagination, and build self-esteem.
- Social development: Sensory play helps children learn to share, take turns, and interact with others.
- Getting Started with Sensory Play
Here are some tips for parents who want to get started with sensory play:
Start small: Begin with simple materials such as playdough, bubbles, or water. This will help your child get used to the concept of sensory play and avoid overwhelming them.
Get messy: Sensory play can be messy, but it’s important to let your child explore and experiment. Use a designated area or tarp to contain the mess and be prepared to clean up afterwards.
Follow your child’s lead: Allow your child to lead the play and follow their interests. Encourage them to use their imagination and creativity.
Provide a variety of materials: Offer a range of materials with different textures, colours, and properties. This can help your child explore and learn about the world around them.
Set boundaries: Make sure your child understands the rules and boundaries of sensory play. This can include washing hands before and after play, using materials safely, and cleaning up after themselves.
Examples of Sensory Play
Here are some examples of sensory play activities you can do with your child:
Water play: Fill a tub with water and let your child explore using different toys, containers, and sponges. You can also add food colouring or bubbles to make it more interesting.
Playdough: Make your own playdough using flour, salt, and water, and let your child mould, shape, and create different objects. You can also add scents, colours, or glitter for added fun.
Sand play: Provide a sandbox or tray filled with sand and let your child dig, pour, and build using different tools and toys.
Sensory bins: Create a sensory bin by filling a container with different materials such as rice, beans, or pasta. Let your child explore using different scoops, spoons, and toys.
Painting with different materials: Provide materials like feathers, cotton swabs, or sponge shapes and let your child paint with them.
Water can help develop several sensory skills in individuals, particularly in young children. Here are some examples:
1. Touch: Water provides a unique tactile experience, allowing individuals to feel the temperature, texture, and movement of the water. Children can explore different types of water play such as pouring, splashing, and squeezing, which can help develop their sense of touch.
2. Hearing: Water produces a variety of sounds, from the gentle lapping of waves to the loud splashing of waterfalls. Listening to the sounds of water can help individuals develop their auditory skills and learn to distinguish between different types of sounds.
3. Sight: Water provides a visually stimulating environment with different colours, reflections, and movements. Children can observe the way water moves, the ripples it creates, and the way it reflects light, which can help develop their visual perception.
4. Proprioception: Moving through water requires individuals to use a lot of muscle force and movement. This can help young children understand how different parts of their body works together and the actions that are required to move in certain ways
Sensory play is a fun and effective way to promote child development. By engaging children’s senses, they can learn, explore, and discover in a safe and playful environment. As parents, we can provide opportunities for sensory play at home by using simple materials and following our child’s interests. So get messy, have fun, and explore the world of sensory play with your child.