Look. Listen. Touch. Smell. Taste. These are the fundamental elements of our lives that we often take for granted.
Each person will experience life differently through our sensory engagements with the world. From birth, children will use these senses to learn about and explore the world around them. Learning through sensory exploration comes naturally to babies and young children, but there are ways to foster these engagements to help children learn through their senses.
What is sensory play?
Sensory play is the type of play that stimulates a child’s senses. This is often just thought of as play involving their sense of touch, but includes all five senses including touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. Children and adults alike learn best when they are engaging their senses. Sensory activities differ from other types of play as the emphasis on the senses amplifies the activity.
Why is sensory play important?
Sensory play is crucial to brain development and early learning should involve play activities that allow children to explore using their senses. Sensory stimulation can strengthen sensory-related synapses and functions in children’s brains, assisting in developing the proper sensory processing capabilities.
Furthermore, the desire to engage in sensory play comes naturally for children and should be encouraged and supported in both their home and early learning environments.
What are the primary benefits of sensory play for children?
- Sensory play supports language development in young children as they learn to respond to different stimuli. For example, descriptive words are often learnt through touch, smell, taste, sound and sight.
- Sensory play helps with brain development, building nerve connections that allow children to learn better. New experiences create connections in little one’s brains that improve their ability to take on more complex tasks as they grow and learn.
- Sensory play encourages learning through exploration and problem solving, often teaching them how to focus and block out distractions. As children, they need to learn which information their brains should filter out and which is useful to them in a particular moment. Sensory play, like a group musical instrument game, can help them develop this ability to tune out the extra noise.
- Sensory play allows children to engage with their senses in safe and exciting ways. For example, children who are fussy eaters may be able to try new textures and tastes in play-based activities with no expectations, rather than at the dinner table where they may feel pressured or anxious.
- Sensory play encourages the development of motor skills in children. As motor skills are developed through movement, sensory play encourages children to move, participate in play and often use repetitive motions in an engaging manner.
- Most importantly, sensory play is inclusive! All children can engage in sensory play as there is no right or wrong way. They can participate at their level and engage with their peers.
Sensory Play Ideas For Home
Sensory activities for kids are almost always a no-fail activity. It opens the door for free play. Here are some great ideas to foster learning through sensory play at home:
- Get gardening outdoors
- Make slime
- Visit the beach
- Cook dinner together
- Make edible playdough
- Create a sandpit
- Experiment with ice cubes
- Finger painting
- Create a musical instrument
Sensory Play At Little Zak’s
As a leading childcare service provider in NSW, we have developed a wonderful program that includes activities to foster sensory development. Here are some of our favourites:
- Gardening projects
- Cooking with Little Zak’s Kitchen
- Language lessons
- Swimming lessons
- Play in the sandpit
- Musical instrument play
Find your Little Zak’s centre to see the full list of activities available for your child.
Alternatively, if you wish to learn more about our childcare services and innovative play-based education, speak with our team or book a tour today to experience the Little Zak’s difference.