Sensory play is specifically designed to stimulate children’s senses. These experiences are essential for healthy brain development & important to develop & strengthen sensory processing capabilities.
Reading instructions from a whiteboard whilst in a noisy classroom can be overwhelming. A child with well-integrated sensory processing will find this kind of task less straining & easier to achieve.
Although Pinterest & Instagram are full of beautiful (& seemingly unattainable!) sensory play ideas, it’s actually very simple to do at home. All kinds of play have the potential to become a sensory activity.
By taking objects already around the house you can create many fun experiences for you & your child:
-️ feed a ribbon through the holes of a colander
- let your child play in a container of dried pasta while you cook dinner
Not that we needed another excuse to engage in some plain old-fashioned fun - sensory play has many benefits for child development, including:
Sensory play helps developing brains establish & strengthen neural pathways. New & frequent experiences create connections that improve a child’s ability to engage in complex learning activities.
🔅Encourages trying new foods
Research shows that regular messy play increases children’s willingness to try new foods. Fruits & vegetables are prone to changing, either due to ripening or as a result of how they’re cooked. Playing & feeling the natural textures of fresh foods allows children to explore their changing nature, giving them the confidence to then try them at the dinner table.
There’s no right or wrong way to engage in sensory-rich play & as such it’s particularly useful for children with different learning/thinking styles, multilingual children or those with special needs.
🔅Exploration & creativity
Hands-on, self-directed play encourages discovery & development. It supports scientific thinking by requiring experimentation, hypothesising, researching & investigating outcomes.
References: Coulthard & Sealy 2017; Bishop 2014