The Magical Benefits of Sensory Play
Sensory Play. What it is? How does it benefit your Little Cub? And How do you implement it into every day life?
These are just some of the questions I get asked a lot and with good reason. Sensory play looks amazing on Instagram - we've all seen the beautiful set ups, hours of prep from parents, the perfect photos...absolutely mind-blowing. Yes. BUT...
Sensory Play in real life, means play that allows your child to explore and discover with their senses. Sight, smell, touch, taste and sound.
What is Sensory Play?
Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your Little Cub's senses of smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing, this also includes physical movement and balance. It's a hands-on. fully engaged type of learning with many, many benefits!
The Benefits of Sensory Play?
Play in lots of forms Stimulates the brain, and there is no exception for sensory play which creates neural pathways and improves sensory processing systems. It aids and improves social skills such as communication and cooperation. All different types of sensory toys and activities can improve coordination, as well as fine/gross motor skills. Playdough, for example, great for strengthening hand muscles!
Improves Fine Motor Skills
Let's continue discussing playdough, the type of movements involved in playdough play including, but not limited to, pinching, squeezing, rolling and tearing all promote fine motor skills and increased hand-eye coordination. These types of hand-strengthening exercises can also be replicated with slime, or add rice and chickpeas and a scoop too! So many possibilities!!
Sparks Curiosity & Wonder
Adding a sensory toys box to your morning routine or themed sensory play to your activities is a great way to spark an interest in learning! Children learn best through play and repetition and often use sensory materials in the way they need to, rather than the way their adult intended! Sensory, hands-on learning can be incorporated in many ways and in both the indoor learning setting as well as outside.
Let's be honest, the last benefit that needs mentioning is IT IS FUN! Children don't really care about the learning outcome adults have in mind, they care about fun and enjoyment. They learn best through play and sensory play is fun! It can also calming and eye-opening.
Can Sensory Play Help Anxiety?
Yes, sensory play can help with anxiety. It's been a tough year and a half for children, so it comes as no surprise that their mental health has taken a dive recently. Ways to promote positively, relieve stress and manage anger include mediation, sensory play and lots of cuddles!
Sensory play reduces the stress and anxiety that can lead to meltdowns and behavioural changes. This is because certain types of sensory play helps young children to self-regulate. The focus and attention given during sensory play can helps calm a child's anxiety, especially if calming scents are used! (Think Lavender & Ylang-Ylang!)
Good Sensory Activities for at Home?
There is a vast array of good sensory activities for at home, however it is really family-dependent. What works for me and my family may not work for you - and that is absolutely fine! Trial and error is the way to go but here are some of the ways I use sensory activities in my homeschool:
Listening walks are great for introducing children to different sounds and should be introduced as the first stage of learning to read. We love just walking about listening to the birds singing, the crickets croaking, the load roar of a motorbike and the gentle rushing of the creek. This is a prep-free simple activity that I find so so calming. "Woah, did you hear that? I wonder what it was!"
Oh, the smells and textures! Baking is perfect for a holistic experience. Incorporate prepping the ingredients - cutting, measuring and weighing and your child is learning so much!
Playdough, whether bought or made is a truly magical sensory toy! Children will naturally roll it, pinch it, squash it and all this strengthens their hand muscles. These activities can help aid concentration, try giving your child a blob to fidget with whilst you read a story! Add a scent such as lavender or ylang-ylang to deepen the sensory activity - these smells are calming and relaxing as mentioned above!
Sensory Rice and Chickpeas
Using rice and/or chickpeas in your sensory play is great, these can be coloured to match your learning theme and as with playdough, children manipulate these with their hands and tools working on their fine and gross motor skills. Theme these alongside a story for a lovely few days of learning!
Water play is a great sensory activity for toddlers through to any age!! Whether it's toes dipped in, hands learning pouring and filling or a whole body experience feeling weightless bouncing about, there is so many magical opportunities to learn for water!
Try adding a few items to experiment with floating and sinking. Which items could make a cool boat? I wonder what happens if we freeze the water? Add some petals and natural resources together with some jars for the a truly enchanting potion activity!
What's your favourite sensory activity to do with your Little Cub? Let me know if the comments below or tag us on Instagram @LuneBearCrafts.
We love sharing ideas with our LuneBear community!
See our range of sensory play accessories, we aim to take away the prep so you can see the magic without the hassle!