From birth, children learn about their worlds through their senses. In the beginning they aren’t capable of talking or truly understanding the spoken language, so they learn through they only capabilities they have….their senses. The best way to teach our young children about the world is to tap into this and give them lots and lots of sensory experiences.
Learning through sensory play:
- Develops fine motor skills by manipulating the objects.
- Helps with concentration. For example, my two year old nephew emptied his entire pasta sensory tray on the floor yesterday. He then spent 10 minutes happily picking up each piece of pasta and putting it back in the tray. Sure he was cleaning, but he was also playing. All in all, he spent about 30 minutes playing in his tray. He was focused the entire time with scooping, filling, and dumping the pasta. Talk about concentration!
- Helps build language skills. Take water play…they learn new words like wet, dry, damp, sopping, etc.
- The learn problem solving skills. How do I get this handful of cornmeal inside this small bucket?
- Helps build self esteem! Try, try, try….succeed! Oh the joy of making a plan, trying it, and succeeding…on your own!
Sensory play comes in all shapes and forms. I use lots of sensory trays with J, but there are so many other ways of making a meaningful sensory experience for your child: Here are some of my favorite:
- Cooking involves so many great senses. I often involve J in helping me pour in the ingredients and mix everything together. The older your child, the more involved they can be. My post on cooking with children.
- Art with Spices…Involves all 5 senses! Yes, yes, I just featured this the other day…shows you how much I LOVE this activity.
- Finger Painting
- Any kind of messy play
- Activities in the bathtub…like glowsticks and colored ice cubes.
- Texture bags
- Salt trays…just found this and it’s now on my “to do” list
- Water beads….I’ve really been wanting to do this with J…they are wonderful on a light tray
Activity #9: Make a Sensory Tray!
Check out my sensory tray post for examples. These don’t have to be expensive and you can use anything you want around the house. Before I bought my tray (for $5 at Target), I used plastic mixing bowls or tubberware.
Ideas to for things to fill your tray with:
- ice cubes
- corn meal, flour, salt, etc
- bubble solution
- shredded paper…from your paper shredder (another one I must do!)
- shaving cream
- pasta (cooked or uncooked)
Give them spoons, cups, bowls, anything to enhance the experience.