Monday, February 26, 2018

What Is Sensory Play? And Why It's Important? Plus A Great Sensory Activity!

What is Sensory Play Why it is important

The first time I heard the phrase "sensory play" is when I was working with children who had autism and had difficulty processing different sights, sounds, textures, and even different smells or foods.

I remember there was one child who was having major eating issues. And the sensory activities we would do with him is playing with different foods he was adverse to, with ZERO expectation of eating it. We had all sorts of fun with those foods trying to keep him engaged and interested. The first time that he touched some spaghetti noddles was just amazing!

So due to my past work experience, I always just thought of sensory play for children who had sensory difficulties. I'm embarrassed to say that it wasn't till after I had my first child that I realized No! Sensory play is so important for all children!!!

Yeah, I know I feel really silly that I didn't put that together earlier!

But let's forget about that and move on to why sensory play is so beneficial to all children.

So What Is Sensory Play???

Sensory play blocks

Simply put it is hands-on playing that engages the senses; Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and Taste.

By stimulating the senses you are helping your child's brain grow and develop. Research has shown that when engaging in sensory play the brain will lay down nerve connections that will help your child be able to complete complex learning problems.

Sensory play encourages language development as children will learn new ways to describe their world. In the sensory activity I did with my girls we played with snow inside, we spent a lot of time talking about the snow, how cold it was, how we could mold it into different shapes, and what was happening to it as it was inside for longer and longer.

Another benefit of this type of play is it will help in fine motor development. As your child explores they will be reaching, pinching, pouring and manipulating whatever they are playing with, all of that will help them when they are learning to do zippers, buttons, tieing their shoes and developing their handwriting.

Sensory Play aprons

Another amazing thing about sensory play it that is can be used to either calm or excited your child. I'm sure if you take a moment and think different activities your child enjoys you will be able to tell if they have a calming effect on your children or if it winds them up! For example, after a bath, does your child seem to be a little calmer? I think of myself as a child, I loved going on the swings, I could stay on them for hours and I always felt better afterwards. As a child, I just thought I was having fun and playing, but now as an adult, I know that yes, I was playing and having fun but also that the sensory input I was getting from the swings was calming and self-regulating. That sensory input and self-regulating can help your child overcome whatever internal discomfort they are having, whether that is boredom, restlessness, or some other type of agitation.

Sensory play a way a child can grow in creative thinking and problem-solving. It is also the way children discover and making sense of their world.

So now that you have learned a little bit more about sensory play and its benefits, let me share with you the simple sensory play I did recently with my girls.

It is was SUPER simply, I got two plastic bowls from my cupboards, went outside filled them up with snow, came back inside got a few bath toys put them in the bowls as well and then BOOM! A sensory activity!

Sensory Play with Snow

Now you do need to have snow outside but if you didn't have snow you can very easily use water and put a few ice cubes in to have it be a little more exciting then just water. And that way your kids will be able to see the ice cubes melt. Which for kids is pretty cool to see!

Anyway, now that you have your sensory snow bowl, all you have to do is play! I find just following my girls lead is best, they took me on some wonderful snow adventures where their little toys made new friends, had to go to the doctors, got lost, built a snowman and many more snowy filled adventures! My girls played with the snow for over an hour! I had to go out and get more snow a few times for them.

Toys for sensory play activities

In all honesty, I couldn't play with them the whole time, my pretend play skills are a little rusty and I just wasn't able to keep up! But thankfully they are super good at playing with each other and are able to keep the tears to a minimum.

So if you are trying to fill the day with fun activities that will keep your kids attention for more then 5 minutes, then give this a try! They will just love it!

If you liked this post and activity, then you need to check these posts out as well!

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