What is sensory play?
Grasping an object, exploring it, feeling its texture, roughness, warmth, scent and, why not, maybe even taste it. With the term sensory play, we refer to all activities that encourage children to explore materials that stimulate their senses. Through sensory play babies use all their senses to discover and explore the world around them from the very first days of life.
Discover the world through the 5 (+ 2) senses
We are well aware of the five senses from external receptor: eyes, ears, skin, nose and mouth and the corresponding sensory perceptions of vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
In addition to them, babies develop other senses that we take for granted during adulthood, but that are fundamental for the growth:
- The vestibular sense, sense of balance – this is the sense that contributes to the perception of balance (equilibrium), spatial orientation, direction, or acceleration.
- Proprioception, kinesthesia – it’s the sense that contributes to the body awareness: self-movement and body position
The benefits of sensory play
As said, sensory play is fundamental for babies (and then for children) to explore and investigate the world around them.
Playing, creating and discovering during sensory activity sessions, is beneficial also to:
- develop fine motor skills: grabbing objects of different size, move them and then zipping, buttoning or shoe-tying;
- stimulate the brain, cognitive functions and memory: babies start to associate smell or taste to a particular object they see or touch, and then they start to store that information;
- support language development: a ball is not only a ball. It could be big, soft or pink. Babies discover new words to describe a single object.
Babies, toddlers, pre-scholar, each phase of your kid development will allow to have different threshold and complexity of sensory activities.
Sensory play can be proposed by you in the confort of your home through specific toys. As other great option, nature can be your best friend when it comes to sensory play!
Sensory play ideas: try this at home
Sensory board (touch, vision, hearing)– A wooden board with different activities that babies can do: open a door, move object following a path, push button to ear a sound.
Sensory path (equilibrium, kinesthesia) – Create a path in your house with obstacles to avoid, objects to walk or climb over, jump and pass under.
Smelling jar (smell) – Take little boxes of the same dimension, shape and color. Fill each of them with a different spices and let your baby discover them.
Mystery box (touch, hearing) – Put in a box (or bag) different objects and let your baby discover and guess them without seeing them.
Guess the flavour (taste) – Compare different savor of food products
Did you already try all these sensory activities with your child?
Let us know what you think about it and if you have other examples to suggest us!