Have you ever brought a new toy for your child only to end up feeling slightly deflated but amused when they are more intrigued by the box or the paper you wrapped it in? Sometimes look at them thinking you’ll just wrap up an old toy next time or fill a box with polystyrene balls? You’re not the only parent on the planet to experience this but maybe you didn’t realise that this type of enjoyment is actually very beneficial to our children’s development and should be supported if not enjoyed together.
No doubt you’ve seen the words ‘Sensory Play’, you probably know it’s important but do you really understand the meaning of this type of activity and why it’s so important for us to encourage it with kids of any age – even newborns. It’s not just an activity that pops up on your childcare schedule. Incorporating and encouraging sensory play is beneficial to 0children but also to us as parents as well.
What is sensory play?
Just as it sounds – it’s the connection of all your child’s senses. Picking things up, touching, smelling, seeing and the feeling of textures. The only thing that limits a child is their own imagination which as parents we know that if encouraged can be limitless.
Sensory at every age.
As children develop their senses and abilities to explore are only getting more advanced. From newborns all the way up to school children there are activities which can be incorporated into their daily schedule which help with sensory development and fine motor skills.
Sensory activities – Babies
Bubbles – seeing them float, landing on their skin, their transparency and popping.
Scrunching paper – experience the noise different papers make when scrunched and the feelings that go with that.
Sensory activities – Toddlers
Observing Light – As sight develops explore a child’s ability to see different shades, on and off, shadows and colours. Mix colours by putting coloured cellophane over torches and pointing them at the wall.
Creating patterns – finger painting or sponge painting can allow a child’s creativity to create patterns and colour mixing. When dry the different textures are also an interesting way to explore touch.
Sensory Activities – preschool or school-age
Creating shapes – using playdough or lego to create different shapes which may or may not resemble a particular object.
Kinetic sand – apart from being slightly less messy than the beach, kinetic sand is a great activity for fine motor skills, finger strengthening, dexterity and coordination skills.
Making music – Instruments and music allow the hearing senses to enjoy different tones, pitch and volume. Children will begin to understand noise and the connection they can make with their emotions.
Blowing – Use straws and whistles to practice the sensation of blowing outward. Actually, a great stress-relieving technique the same adults would sigh or inhale and exhale deeply. Of course, birthday candles are also a nice way to practice this with proper supervision.
How to integrate sensory activities?
Surprisingly many of the objects and activities which work with a child’s sensory development can be found around the house. Which means its a cheap and easy activity to do with kids at home and if they do get bored it’s simple to move onto something else. Have a look around the house for some of these items;
- Pots and pans – making sounds or filling them up
- Sieve – pouring
- Toilet rolls – paint, decorate
- Bubble wrap
- Pasta – explore the different shapes, how they break, create artwork or cook it for dinner and see the change in the structure
- Make a mess
- Take photos – make funny faces
- Water play
- Sand play
- Finger painting
- Interaction with animals
Regardless of age, everyone benefits from engaging their senses in nature. Plan a scavenger hunt for your child by asking them to collect things outside. Together, you can examine each item and notice its look, smell, texture and sound.
By stimulating a child’s senses you are helping them develop creatively, socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. Your encouragement will not only benefit them but you as well. It’s important quality time with them and they will love to be spending time with you. Sensory stimulation is an important way to help develop a child’s brain and engage their neural pathways, benefiting their memory skills.
Sensory Play at Chipmunks Playland
Not only a fantastic indoor playground for kids, Chipmunks has actually been designed from the ground up with experts to create an experience which benefits a child’s development. Interactive activities, education boards, climbing structures, ball pools and slides are all encouraging your children’s coordination, strength and fine motor skills. Chipmunks multi-level playground and age zones mean children have the ability to interact with others building on social skills and allowing them to enjoy our sensory-based active play with similar aged children. All while you relax in the cafe!