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:
- the little plastic cups you get with laundry detergents
- zip lock bags
- animal, insect and people figures
- kitchen utensils
- storage pots
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.
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.
- The Imagination Tree has some lovely ideas for Discovery Bottles here
- Small Potatoes made some gorgeous Ocean Chill Out Bottles
- The Iowa Farmer's Wife have these delightful Sensory Bottles
- Sun Hats & Wellie Boots made these Four Seasons Bottles
- Connecting Family & Seoul have these super Travel Size Sensory Bottles
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:
- Rainbow Spagetti from The Imagination Tree
- Rainbow Rice from Rockabye Butterfly
- and Coloured Rice Sticking from Creative Playhouse
- How about this No Mess Colour Mixing from MamaSmiles
- Colour your bath with 'Magic Bath Crystals' from us.
- Spray Painting Bubbles from Growing a Jewelled Rose
- and Coloured Ice and Goop from us too.
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.
- Real dough - bread or cookie dough for examples, here's a lovely post from Taming the Goblin and another from 52 Brand New
- Playdough - there is so many things you can do to and with playdough to make it different and even more sensorial. You can see some of our ideas HERE and check out the ABCs of Playdough here for tons of ideas!
- Cloud dough
- Making and Painting Salt dough.
- Applesauce and Cinnamon dough from 5 Orange Potatoes
- Peanut butter dough from the Imagination Tree
- Bread and glue dough from Baby Parenting
- Snow dough from The Imagination Tree
- I also came across this amazing Ice Cream dough from Play Create Explore!
- Clay, putty and plasticine are great alternatives too, which can be bought from most craft shops, or try this White Clay from The Imagination Tree.
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
- googly eyes
- herbs and spices
- essential oils
- kool aid
- food colourings
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!
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