You’ve probably seen a young child put everything in their mouth; that is because they’re exploring new objects in any way possible. Children learn through their senses! They want to touch, see, taste, hear, and smell everything in their reach as all of it is new to them. So why not prepare and offer sensory play activities to best assist their growth and development? Read on to find out the benefits of sensory experiences.
Reasons to Offer Sensory Play
1. Encourages Problem Solving
By learning cause and effect when manipulating materials, your child is learning problem solving skills. Children make hypothesis and draw conclusions even if they don’t realize it’s part of the scientific method. See this in action when making playdough or freezing toys in ice. Older children can draw or write their predictions and conclusions, while younger children can brainstorm ideas and try them out right before their eyes.
2. Better Retention
When more senses are engaged, we have better retention. Think about how a scent can remind you of a memory. You are walking by a bakery and all of a sudden get a whiff of homemade pie; your mind immediately jumps you back into your Grandmother’s kitchen. Did you ever have a teacher suggest having a mint went studying for a test and then eating the same mint while taking the test? That was to help you recall information. So for a toddler washing a baby doll with lavender scented foam soap in the water table, they are soaking in even more knowledge than they would if you were to just point and name body parts in a board book. Take learning to the next step by creating a hands-on activity!
3. Brain Development At Its Best!
Sensory experiences rewire the brain and form synapses, connections between brain cells. So, the more sensory bins, finger painting, sink/ float experiments, and textured fabric boards we can offer the better! Children use their hands to play and therefore are learning through their play.
4. Practice Language Development
There are lots of opportunities to talk and use adjectives during sensory exploration. If children are too young to talk, an adult can narrate thoughts. For example if you offer an infant a sensory bag during tummy time you can describe what they see and feel. “Look at that sparkly purple glitter; it is so shiny! Oh and when we squeeze the bag it feels squishy and cool on our hands.” For older children you can ask them open ended questions or even given options to help them describe the experience, “How does that feel? Is it sticky or soft?”
5. Practice Fine Motor Development
Children are given the opportunity to strengthen their fine motor muscles through grabbing, feeling, and manipulating sensory materials. Sensory play is important because it is a way for a child to develop strength in their hands. It can also calm a child and is often used to help relax and take away anxiety. Playdough can be such a peaceful play time for little ones. Just give them some cookie cutters, plastic scissors, utensils, or anything you can think of. It encourages their imagination to soar!
On top of sensory play being relaxing and educational, best of all it is fun! Parents and nannies, check out all of our sensory play blogs to plan a new activity each week. Be sure to talk during their play to expand their learning opportunities! And for more, take our online class: Encouraging Curiosity & Learning Through Play. Remember, any nanny placed with a family through Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny is given three free professional development classes. Reach out today to inquire about job postings!
About The Author
Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and is a Certified Potty Training Expert. At Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny she is the eLearning and Social Media Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her children, going for walks with her family, and discovering local wineries in New England.