Six Benefits Of Sensory Play

Sensory play is any play that stimulates the main senses in a human. The senses include touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing or balancing. Children should be allowed to explore these senses through play early enough.

Before the coming of the internet and devices, children played outside, created their toys using materials from inside or outside their home. Many spent hours working on their toys than the actual play itself and developed other skills through these activities.

The girls may have leant to use scissors to cut rags into dolls and made stuffings for the dolls from straw on their farms or backyard. While also learning to sew the rags together with a needle and thread. They may also have gathered dirt from the backyard, added a little water and made their clay pots and pans for their little dolls. How exciting!

The boys may have also made their balls or scooters from some sort of wheels. Trying them out again and again until it works. Then they can play with their new toy, so proud of their accomplishment.

Things are different today. Kids no longer make their own toys as we can get amazing toys from the shop and various games, tv shows on electronic devices that entertain them all day. So, unless we make deliberate efforts, our kids may not learn to play with different materials, engaging in amazing activities that stimulate the use of their major senses.

The closest we will get to the way kids played in the past may be investing in arts and crafts of some sort. There are loads of stores these days that sell crafting kits for kids and they are amazing. Ask around or check online for the various options available.

Technology have their place and so those play outside where all senses can be stimulated. Never trade one for the other!

Benefits Of Sensory Play

  1. Sensory play hone motor skills. The more they play with different materials, squeezing, pulling, pinching or stretching, their bodies send sensory signals to the brain. Which then stimulate the use of muscles and effective coordination within their bodies making them confident and independent. Playing with dirt in the backyard, stretching and squeezing play dough are great activities. Squeezing a sponge learning to do dishes will also work!
  2. Sensory play helps a kid develop their vocabulary. As they use different materials, they experience different things. They then learn new words to explain their new experience. For instance, if they touch ice cubes for the first time, they learn it is cold, they learn the word cube and that it is a shape. You can put some ice cubes in their drink, and they see that it floats, allowing you to explain what is happening, expanding their knowledge and vocabulary.
  3. Sensory play inspires creativity. The more your kid works with different materials, the more they learn what works with what. Painting, drawing, sewing or even baking combining different ingredients inspires creativity.
  4. They learn to follow instructions. Many crafting kits for kids come with step by step instructions on how to do the project. The more they do these crafting activities, the more they see that instructions are valuable for everyday life.
  5. Visual learning through sensory play. An increasing number of kids would rather learn through visuals. You can teach maths, science and other subjects using objects in your home or outside in teaching these subjects in a fun and more relaxed way. Play can be turned into more engaging math or science class.
  6. Sensory play helps kids develop qualities like patience, consistency, determination, commitment, the list goes on. When we work on a project, we sometimes wait for one bit to be ready before we start the next stage. For instance, painting with watercolour may require waiting for the colours to dry before putting in some other features. While your child waits, they learn patience.
Never be scared as I was, to get those fingers dirty. You only need soap and water afterwards.⁠ Let them explore different materials as long as it is safe to do so.

Roadblocks To Sensory Play

Sensory play can be quite messy with the splashing of liquids or may involve touching dirt from outside. You may be worried like I was, to get your carpets or walls dirty and the enormous cleaning or repairs you might have to do later on. Instead of stopping your kids from learning put some old blankets, plastic wraps or rags to cover areas you do not want dirt and wash up afterwards. Do not overthink it, it is not as hard as you may imagine. Your child will love this extra effort.

Another roadblock is the use of the device. It is easier to hand them a device to play video games than to encourage play in the backyard or splashing, squeezing and exploring some dirt. So you must be deliberate in your effort in encouraging your child to play.

When Can You Start Sensory Play?

Babies start learning from birth. They gaze, they grasp, they such, they kick, they start using and learning to use different muscles. Start introducing safe and soft materials for them to play with and change things up as they grow. They will learn to use things they are expose to.

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