We didn’t even realize and yes, sensory play has been a part of all of us. Sensory play is nothing but any activity that stimulates the senses, may be sight, hearing, touch taste or smell. So doesn’t every activity that kids do, engage the senses in some way? Yes, it does, but today we are going to discuss about a more structured approach to engage kids in. Approach which encourages children to play, create and explore with sensory stimulations.
Sensory exploration is a child’s way of examining, discovering and making sense of the world. Sensory toys encourage open-ended, creative play, allowing children to interact with them in an almost endless variety of ways. They are wonderfully engaging, besides have effect as calming and grounding.
They can be anything from a slime, dough, water beads, kinetic sand, and many more.
Importance of sensory play
- According to Sally Fitzgerald, a senior therapist, providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’, is crucial. It has a great role in brain development, as it helps to build nerve connections in the brain pathways.
- It facilitates development of language, gross and fine motor skills, problem solving skills, along with developing a good memory.
- Sensory play calms and soothes an anxious and overwhelmed child.
- It helps kids to focus and rule out any other irrelevant noise around.
- Children use their imaginations when they play creatively.
Listing down some of the prime Sensory play activities:
Play dough / clay:
It’s way old traditional sensory play which is very engaging, safe and a vent to creative exploration. Kids can roll, knead, sculpt and mould clay vis-à-vis their imagination while strengthening their muscles.
With market full of myriads of shades, play dough can be very easily prepared at home as well. Homemade play dough is easy, cheap and you can make a big batch which allows kids to explore in a better way. You can also add your personal touch with color, glitter and essential oils.
Here’s a simple recipe which I made at home along with my enthusiastic kid :
Home made recipe for Play Dough
All you need is :
2 cups of flour(white)
¾ cup of salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup water
Food colors(4-5 drops)
How to do it:
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add glitter to the mix if desired.
- Mix the water and oil in a different bowl.
- Add 4-5 drops of food coloring into oil-water. Stir it well. (use less food colors for pastel dough and more for bright dough)
- Stir the flour mixture into the oil-water with a spoon. Knead it on a floured surface. Keep kneading until the dough is soft and silky
Here! Play dough is ready!!
Store it in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Make doughs of different colors and see the magic begin!
If you wish to buy directly, then here are some really cheap and good options :
Answer the puzzle…
It oozes between your fingers when you pick it up, yet it doesn’t stick to your skin.
It comes in a variety of colors and kids love it.
It can be made to glow in the dark.
What is this substance?
[If you guessed slime, you are correct].
Kids love slime! Get to know about how to make Slime at home, the ones I did with to give you a perfect result.
It shapes, builds and calms! It is super light, super fun sensory sensation! It is non greasy, doesn’t dries out easily and sticks to itself for a quick clean up. Great for sensory play or as a cleaner alternative to play dough.
Kinetic sand is downright mesmerizing as it flows and sifts, but at the same time holds shapes remarkably well.
Importance of Kinetic sand for kids :
- Relax and calm. Sifting the sand through fingers help kids get familiar with the texture while also relaxing and basking in its gritty feel.
- Easy to clean and doesn’t sticks.
- Fosters creativity, it has unlimited potential and helps in motor and hand eye coordination.
- Great for kids with children with Sensory Processing Disorders/other disorders
Sensory play ideas with Kinetic sand :
- Make 3-D shapes like ball, brick or any other.
- Go on a treasure hunt. Bury small objects like coins, jewels, buttons and ask your kids to dig for buried treasure with their hands.
- Design lovely patterns, using moulds, cookie cutters, shells, blocks and fine tune motor skills as a resultant(finger strengthening, dexterity in hand manipulation etc.)
- Slice it into chunks using a plastic knife or a scale and enhance hand strength.
- Create indoor sand castles by stacking and packing sand castle shapes. Wonderful beach experience at home!
- Spread it into a flat stretch and etch designs and shapes into the kinetic sand.
You can make your own DIY version (though I have not given a try), or buy it (I bought Kinetic sand for my kids).
It is safe and fun for children as young as 3 year old while still appealing to older kids and tweens.
Here are some amazing options for you :
They’ve been my favorite too since childhood. Watching those tiny hard balls into marble-sized bouncing balls is fascinating. Moving your fingers in those soft and slimy balls is so soothing and therapeutic. Watching the water beads grow when in water and shrinking out devoid of water is itself a fun. My kids love playing with a water beads and small water balloons in a tub for hours.
Get one here right now:
In general, sensory toys are great for kids of all age groups, beginning 2years.
They provide a variety of colors and textures to stretch their imagination. Try making different themes and try to incorporate as many sensory toys as possible.
Besides playing, it also gives kids their personal time to explore alone.
Sensory toys are a boon for the kids who do not like to play by the rules.
Enjoy Sensational Sensory Play!!!
This lovely guest post has been contributed by Rimjhim, who is a SAHM, a mom of two beautiful and naughty kids. She believes in raising kids developing their creative side and is strong preacher of Positive Parenting!