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Monday, 7 January 2013

A - E in the ABCs of Sensory Play

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Welcome to the first part of your ultimate guide to sensory play! Each day this week we will be going through the alphabet exploring many aspects of sensory play - how to set it up, how to play, why its so important, what you can use to do it and all the fun you can have with it!! Today we're going from A-E: 

A is for Accessories 

One of the best things about sensory play is that it is usually really easy to set up, and you can often use simple things from around the house to create your play set up, and sometimes you hardly need anything at all. However, it is useful to have a few essential sensory play accessories to hand to enhance the play experience. Here are some ideas:
  • trays 
  • tubs 
  • bowls 
  • cups 
  • scoops 
  • the little plastic cups you get with laundry detergents
  • bottles
  • zip lock bags 
  • boxes
  • animal, insect and people figures 
  • kitchen utensils 
  • spoons
  • storage pots 
  • jugs 
You can also buy lovely sets like this Explore With Me Sensory Box from Mama May I

but a selection of stuff from your kitchen will do just as well. :) 

All these bits and bobs are great for pouring, stirring, tipping, sorting, scooping, digging, moving, mixing... but sometimes its good to provide a tray without too many things so that your child(ren) handle the materials with their hands too. 


B is for the Bath and Bottles

Yes, sensory play can be messy, but its not always and when it is, don't let it put you off! If you don't have a wonderful wipe clean hard wood floor play area (like you see on pinterest) don't despair (but dont stop dreaming) there are lots of ways to enjoy sensory play without wrecking your carpets. And you don't need a specially made sensory table either.  

Do it in the bath! It will contain the mess, anything liquid based can easily be washed away, and your kids can be cleaned up easily too. We did our Winter Wonderland Sensory Tray in the bath.



Speaking of baths, creating a sensory bath can be really fun. Take a look at Bath Activities for Kids for loads of amazing ideas. Or for some simple ideas, add food colouring or scents to the water, or provide some shaving foam paint. 

How about in a paddling pool? 

Make sensory bottles - This is a totally mess free way to do sensory play, that you can play with anywhere; you can even pop one in your handbag [purse] for your little one to play with when your out and about. The amazing Teach Preschool is doing the ABCs of Discovery Bottles where you can find lots of wonderful ideas, and here are a few of my favourites. 


My favourite sensory bottle is our calm down bottle. To make this just put some glitter, glitter glue and water in your bottle and shake. The glitter falls to the bottom slowly, helping you relax while you watch. 


C is for Colours

There are lots of ways to explore colours through sensory play. Playing with paint is one, but we'll cover that more later on. To start with check out this great post from Momma's Fun World on 45 Fun Things you Can Do with Food Colouring

Here are some other ways to explore colour through sensory play:



Using sensory play to look at colours is a great way to introduce learning colours; its much more hands on and experiential than flashcards or crayons (not that there is anything wrong with these!) and allows for colour mixing and free creativity. 


D is for Dough 

Playing with any kind of dough is such a fantastic play activity; improving dexterity, fine motor skills, co ordination, creativity.... and there are many kinds of dough to play with.


Dough is easy to make - and making it is an activity in itself, it tends to last a long time, its easy to store, it has multiple outcomes (if you want it to), and it has endless uses. You can infuse dough with smells, textures and colours, and add any number of play materials to it to expand the play opportunities, such as:

  • pipe cleaners 
  • straws 
  • buttons 
  • googly eyes 
  • glitter 
  • sequins 
  • herbs and spices 
  • oats
  • sand 
  • essential oils 
  • cocoa
  • kool aid 
  • food colourings 
  • fruit 
  • cereals 
  • seeds
  • shells 
  • flowers 

E is for Essential 

So why is Sensory Play so important for children (and grown ups)? I wrote a bit about this in Whats All the Fuss About Sensory Play?



This is a fantastic article from Not Just Cute on Why Sensory Play is Important for Preschoolers. 

And another great resource is Everyday Sensory Play in Preschool from Teach Preschool. 

So thats the first instalment of the ABCs of Sensory Play; your ultimate guide! Check back tomorrow for F - J; where we'll go from fragrances to jelly! 

Dont forget to stay connected to Creative Playhouse here: 

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