Once children reach a certain age even they know what senses are – smell, sight, touch, taste, and hearing. What parents may not know is how important sensory play is to the development of a child.
The Role Sensory Play Plays
Sensory play is not just beneficial for a child who struggles with sensory integration, it is beneficial for all children. While there are certain groups of children (such as those who have autism or those who have a sensory integration disorder) who benefit more, all children need to learn how they can use their senses. Truthfully, children are wired to start exploring the world with all of their senses from the day they are born. Utilize this natural curiosity and teach your children with some of these fun sensory activities.
The Sensory Tub
The most popular type of sensory play activity that is even commonly used my therapists who focus on helping children with sensory integration disorders is sensory tubs. A sensory tub is a tub filled with various items intended to help children explore different senses in a controlled manner. A sensory tub could be filled with water beads, sand, play dough, plastic gems, rocks, or pipe cleaners. The goal is to get children to explore new and different textures.
Primary Color Squishy Bags
This activity requires red, blue, and yellow paint, zip lock bags, and tape. You will put red and yellow, blue and yellow, and red and blue paint in different zip lock bags. Put the bags on a flat surface and keep the paints separate in the bags. Use the tape to add a secure seal to the bags after you snap them shut. Then, you let your children play with the squishy bags. In addition to working with a squishy texture, your children can see how two colors mix to make a new color. You can expand and use other paint colors with this activity. Primary colors just work best.
Bucket of Colorful Spaghetti Worms
This activity requires cooked and cooled spaghetti, a bucket or container, pebbles, and food coloring. After you have cooked the spaghetti and allowed it to cool, you can place it in bowls and add 8 drops of food coloring. Then, you just need to stir until the color spreads out. You can add more color if needed.
You may want to get numbered stickers or a permanent marker to number the pebbles. Then, you can tell your children how many pebbles are in the bucket. Finally, place the pebbles at the bottom of the bucket or container and fill it with the noodles. The activity allows your child to explore his or her senses and fine motor skills by trying to pick all the pebbles out of the container.
Sensory play is a great way to introduce your child to new textures. Digging in a bucket of squishy noodles or playing in a tub with various small toys buried in sand might not seem like a big deal to you, but it does wonders for the development of your child's brain.