With sensory play activities we refer to everything that encourages your children to play with materials that stimulate their senses. Letting your kids play in one of these activities will benefit them in terms of brain stimulation, development of fine motor skills, cognitive functions and memory. I’ve written a bit more about it in the past, so if you want to get a quick idea of all the benefits for your baby, here is a deep dive on this topic.
In these article I am going to suggest sensory play activities to play with your kid starting from objects and materials that you can find in your house (or that are very inexpensive to buy)
#1 – Mystery bag
A funny game to develop cognitive skills you can propose to your kid is the mystery bag.
Get a few bags where is not possible to see the content inside, for example the brown paper or fabric ones, and put some random objects inside them: toys, coins, dried fruit, candies, and so on.
Give the bags to your children and let them try to guess what’s inside without looking. Let them manipulate the bags: shake, lift or squish, really whatever they need to do to understand what’s inside. Stimulate their cognitive skills and deductive reasoning asking for prediction and guesses. Once they tried, discover the bag content together.
An alternative to bags is to use a balloon. The rubber material of balloons is very good to enhance tactile exploration.
#2 – Natural soap foam
This will feel much more like a cooking recipe, but here we go!
Get a jar of chickpeas already cooked, drain them keeping their liquid in a bowl. You can use chickpeas for hummus but what we need for our game is their water. Whip with mixer and gradually add powdered sugar (you can use cream of tartar) until soft peaks form. Add food coloring and briefly whip the color in to incorporate.
Now you can choose if you want to cook meringues or make your little ones play with it, the solution is 100% safe even if they try to taste them!
#3 – Solid or liquid?
This one is another funny experiment that will trick your kids: the non newtonian fluid.
A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that behaves almost like a solid when subjected to a sudden force, while it retains the characteristics of a (very viscous) liquid if the force is regular and continuous.
It’s very easy to do, you just need to put 2 part of cornstarch or potato starch in a bowl and slowly add 1 part of water. If you want a colored solution, add a small amount of food coloring in the water. Keep stirring until it has a gooey/mud consistency.
Now plunge your hands into the liquid obtained. What’s happening?
# 4 – A volcano full of colors
Prepare a bowls filled with soapy water and food coloring and let your kids add lemon juice to the component. When the acid of the lemon juice meets the bases of the solution in the bowl, they will be amazed by an eruption of effervescent and soft foam to play with!
#5 – Homemade music instruments
Create our own music instruments is definitely something we all experienced at some point. It’s certainly inexpensive, it could be noisy especially if you have more than a kid and…they create a band!
Pots and chairs are the most accessible and easy objects to play the drums but with your help, your kids can create more complex instruments like making maracas with dried beans, a paper cup, and some wax paper or a guitar from an empty tissue box and some rubber bands.
#6 – Smell the rice
This sensory activity goes to stimulate the sense of smell and touch.
Bring few bowls and fill them with uncooked rice then add to each bowl a different type of herbs or spice such as: rosemary, lavender, thyme or powdered chocolate. Let your baby smell and discover the different scents, through fingers and scoop it with the hands.
Once the game session is finished, don’t throw them away! Store the scented mixes in water bottles and use for other funny time together.
#7 – Spy bag
This one that I’m going to explain is very good if you have a toddler and you need to entertain her during a journey or a dinner out.
Take a plastic bag with a zip, like the one to store food and fill it with rice or pasta.
Then you need small objects for example you can choose a coin, a dice, a piece of cork stopper, a coffee bean, a piece of a puzzle, whatever that is small and without sharp edges that could damage the bag.
Zip everything together and, to be sure, reinforces all sides with tape.
Now let your baby manipulate the bag and discover all the hidden item!
What do you think about these ideas? Share your favourite one in the comments!