Sensory Play Activities for Toddlers, Babies & Children with Special Needs
Messy, gooey, sticky, rough or slimy… these are what some people think when we talk about sensory play but that is where sensory experiences are made of. The learning pace and the retention of our children actually depend on how many senses are engaged. In short, the more senses they use, the more they learn and the more they can remember it.
(Children enjoying the blue sand together with dinosaur toys and even a yakult cup.)
Let’s say for example our sense of sight – if they see that the clouds are gray, they would have the thinking that it will rain soon. For sense of smell – if they smell a rose, they would remember that their grandmother’s perfume smells like rose too. So, the transfer of learning is taking place too.
Naturally, our children are very curious about various things. They tend to explore and get excited to experience something that is new to them. They are scientists who would experiment and explore anything that they see in their environment. They pick flowers, collect sticks and climb trees. They also fall down while riding bicycles or even watch a worm crawl. These are all learning experiences.
Today, many children are into indoor games. Watching television, video and computer games are some examples. These may stimulate their visual and auditory learning but its too fast paced which don’t allow them to self-regulate. Thus, resulting to feeling pressured in school or at home.
The Importance of Sensory Play Activities for Toddlers, Babies & Children with Special Needs
Why is it important? How does it help in the over-all development of my child? What can kind of sensory activities can I prepare for my child?
Sensory play activities include any activities that encourage the children to explore materials or objects using the different senses. These activities can simply be coloring, painting, watering plants or even digging soil. Some parents may refrain from doing these activities, as it can be very messy but through simple rules and considerately prepared environment, children can benefit from it.
(Use of clay and cutters is always fun as the clay has a very soft texture which the children use in forming different objects.)
What can I use for Sensory Play Activities?
Preparing sensory play is as easy as can be. There is no need to buy materials as you can find many things in your house. Go to your kitchen and find plates, cups, and containers. Go to your garden and use pots, soil, small shovel and stones. Our children can be as imaginative as they can be. They are very creative that they can turn any simple material to something interesting.
(Dyed pasta using red and blue food coloring with plastic bowls, tweezers and spoon.)
(Cooked pasta used as a paintbrush.)
(Big container, fill it with water, put some seashells, hand-made boat, sea animal toys – letting the children feel that they are in the beach.)
Over all, let us remember that every child their own pace of learning. It doesn’t take a day or week to explore. It takes time. Eventually, our children will connect to their senses, which will encourage them to be more engaged with the environment. They would learn how to regulate themselves, share their ideas and discover new information. The most important part is that they would find joy and eagerness for learning.