From birth to early childhood, children use their five senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. It’s an important part of early childhood development and providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ which is crucial for brain development.
Learning through sensory exploration comes naturally to children. As adults, our senses provide us with vital information that we use to inform the brain or make decision thousands of times a day.
We may take this ability for granted and barely notice it but it helps children to learn about their own senses and has various other benefits.
What is sensory play?
Picking things up and feeling their texture is what people often associate with sensory play, but it’s much more than touch. Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates a young child’s senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing, as well as anything which engages movement and balance.
The benefits of sensory play –
Sensory activities, in addition to being fun and interesting for children, encourage children to explore and investigate. These activities support children to use the scientific method of observing, forming a hypothesis, experimenting and making conclusions.
It helps to build nerve connections in the brain. It encourages the development of motor skills. It supports language development. It encourages scientific thinking and problem solving. It can involve mindful activities which are beneficial for all children.
The desire to engage with sensory play comes naturally for children and should be encouraged and supported both at home and in early learning environments.
List of sensorial activities:
Sense of Hearing
1. Sound bottles: by adding rice, beans, rangoli in bottles.
2. Sound treasure basket: musical instruments
3. Sound matching
Sense of Sight
1. Exploring sight with eye patch
2. Colour mixing
3. Glowing alphabets or numbers
The only way to enable children to connect, develop is to open the door and let them out to explore the different senses and sensorial activities. The desire to engage with sensory play comes naturally for children and should be encouraged and supported both at home and in early learning environments!