Sensory play is a concept that’s taken the early childhood world by storm. It’s basically an umbrella term for any type of sensory exploration in which kids get to use their five senses – sight, hearing, smell, and touch – to explore different objects or situations.
It usually involves kids running around and having fun while exploring their environment with their senses.
While there are many benefits of sensory play in early childhood, this article will focus on the top 6 benefits of sensory play in early childhood.
benefits of sensory play in early childhood
Important for the development of physical skills
Kids learn so many important skills while they’re growing up, but physical skills are some of the first ones that they learn. That’s because kids need to be able to interact with the world around them – both inside and outside – through their five senses to interact with the world.
Having fun while kids learn these skills is one of the best ways to get them excited and interested in being more active in the world.
Kids who engage in sensory play can often develop their gross motor skills better because they constantly move and explore with their bodies. This can also be useful for improving fine motor skills because sensory play often involves hands-on activities.
Sensory play can also improve kids’ balance and coordination because it involves lots of exploration and active engagement with their environment. This can be especially helpful for kids who struggle with ADHD and other conditions that involve attention and coordination issues.
Good for building brain functions
Sensory play is a great way for kids to get creative and use their brains. When kids explore their environment with their senses, they’re able to see things in a new way and come up with creative solutions to problems.
They might notice that something makes a sound that they can use to play a different game. They might also notice things that they can use as tools, such as leaves that they can use to build a structure.
When kids engage in sensory play, they usually explore with materials and objects that are either present in their environment or at home.
This allows them to get creative when they’re exploring, which is great for building creativity and using their brains.
Helps in the development of social skills and emotional regulation
When kids can be more aware of their emotions, they can also regulate them better. Kids who are more able to regulate their emotions are often more confident and secure in themselves.
They can also often have better relationships with other people because they can better put themselves in other people’s shoes and see things from other perspectives.
Sensory play is an amazing way for kids to explore their environment and get creative when they’re feeling emotions.
When kids are able to get excited about exploring and having fun while they get to use their senses, they’re able to find positive ways to deal with whatever emotions come up.
Promotes creativity and imagination
Kids learn so much while they’re growing up, but they can often forget to take a step back and enjoy what they’re doing.
If your child is constantly busy and focused on doing things, you might miss opportunities to remind them to take a step back and appreciate what they’re doing.
When kids explore their environment with their senses, they often notice things that they weren’t previously aware of, either because they weren’t aware that they were aware of them or because they weren’t aware that they were different.
Reduces stress and anxiety in children
Kids who are able to get excited about their environment and engage with their senses are often also more relaxed.
When you’re able to be more relaxed, you’re also able to manage stress better, which is especially helpful for kids who experience a lot of stress in their lives.
Improves motor skills
When kids are constantly exploring with their senses, they’re also constantly learning new motor skills. Those motor skills help kids be more coordinated and active when exploring their environment.
This is especially helpful for kids who struggle with ADHD, autism, and other conditions that involve attention and movement issues.
best activities to promote sensory play in kids are-Sensory Bins
Sensory bins are containers filled with materials such as rice, sand, or water, along with small toys or objects for kids to explore.
Sensory bins can be themed, such as a beach or farm, and can be used to teach kids about different textures, colors, and objects.
Playdough is a classic sensory play activity that kids love. Children can manipulate the play dough with their hands to create shapes, animals, and objects. Adding scents or glitter to the playdough can add an extra sensory element to the activity.
Water play is a great sensory activity for kids of all ages. Children can splash, pour, and play with water in different ways, using buckets, cups, and other water toys.
Adding food coloring or bath fizzes to the water can create an extra sensory element to the activity.
Art activities such as finger painting, clay modeling, or collage making can be great sensory play activities.
Children can explore different textures and materials, using their hands and fingers to create different shapes and designs.
Taking a sensory walk is a great way to get kids outside and engaged with the world around them.
Encourage children to use their senses to explore nature, such as listening to the sounds of birds, feeling the texture of tree bark, or smelling flowers.
Sensory bags are plastic bags filled with materials such as glitter, beads, or colored water. Kids can explore the different textures and colors of the materials without getting their hands messy.
Sensory Story Time
Sensory story time involves reading a story while incorporating sensory elements such as scents, textures, or sounds.
For example, if reading a story about a farm, children could smell the scent of hay or listen to the sound of animal noises.
Sensory bottles are bottles filled with materials such as water, glitter, and small toys or objects. Children can shake and turn the bottles to watch the materials move and swirl around. Sensory bottles can be themed, such as a winter or ocean-themed bottle.
A sensory table is a small table filled with materials for kids to explore. Materials can include rice, sand, or water, along with small toys or objects. Children can use scoops, spoons, and other tools to explore the materials on the sensory table.
Making scented playdough is a fun and easy way to add an extra sensory element to the classic sensory play activity.
To create different scents, you can add essential oils or extracts such as lavender, peppermint, or vanilla to the play dough.
Sensory tubs are similar to sensory bins but are larger and can be used for multiple children to play with at once.
Tubs can be filled with materials such as beans, pom-poms, shredded paper, and small toys or objects for children to explore.
Sensory art activities involve using materials such as shaving cream, paint, or glue to create textured and sensory art.
Children can use their fingers, hands, or other tools to manipulate the materials and create unique artwork.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to encourage children to explore and engage with the natural world. Create a list of items to find, such as leaves, rocks, or flowers, and encourage children to use their senses to find and collect the items.
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.