This is part 4 of the ABCs of Sensory Play. Please do go back and read from A-E, F-J, K-O and P-T
U is for Understanding
In researching for writing this post I came across this wonderfully informative article written by Rachelle Doorly of Tinkerlab on PBS, Sensory Play: Early Exploration Through the Senses and it is a great place to start when learning about how children develop understanding of the world and self through sensory play. You may also like to read Sensory Play: What's All the Fuss About?
- Language and vocabulary
- A sense of self
- A recognition of likes and dislikes
- An awareness of how the senses work and integrate with each other
- Fine motor skills
- Gross motor skills
- An understanding of materials and malleability
- Understanding of specific topics and themes
- Knowledge of the world around us
- Therapeutic needs and how to meet them
You may find that by watching or participating with your child during sensory play that you discover new things about them, and about yourself too.
V is for Very Messy
No, sensory play doesn't have to be messy. But when it is it is WONDERFUL!
If mess stresses you out and you avoid it at all cost, read this fantastic post Stressed Out By Mess? by Taming the Goblin
Here are some super messy play ideas.
- Super Messy Spagetti Painting
- Oooey Gooey Smiley Slime from Caution! Twins at Play
- Glowing Clean Mud from Train Up A Child
- Slime Baskets from Growing a Jewelled Rose
- Sand, Water and Waterbeads from Two Big Two Little
- 20 Ways to Play with Goop from Growing a Jewelled Rose
- Messy Play Date Stations from All for the Boys
- Halloween Jelly Messy Play - a bath full of jelly from Nurturestore
- Gooey Flour Fun from Learn with Play at Home
- Princess Mud Tea from The Golden Glean
- for older kids, play messy twister... Ive seen this on Pinterest a few times but have not been able to find the source...
- Muddy Race Car Derby from Small Potatoes
W is for Water and Ice
Water, ice, and bubbles are accessible, and so provide easy sensory play opportunities at any time. They can be particularly good for hot summer days, or use warm water and bubbles as a way to warm up in winter. Simply allowing your child to play with the hose, or filling a tub with water, and ice cubes with a few cups will provide so much fun. Water and bubbles can be very therapeutic and relaxing too - hot bubble bath anyone? :) Here are some more ideas for playing with water, ice and bubbles:
- I love this Lemon Sensory Sink from My Nearest and Dearest
- Water Whisking from Mummy Musings and Mayhem
- Play Create Explore combine Chalk and Water for some colourful play
- Squeezable Coloured Water from Teach Preschool
- Playing by the Book created this fantastic Waterfall-Water-Wall
- Add smell and colour to water like Growing a Jewelled Rose did in Christmas Liquid Water Color Recipes
- We played with Coloured Ice and Goop
- I love these Beetroot Melting Hearts from The Good Long Road
- Ice Play with flowers from Playful Learners
- Alphabet Ice Block Play from The Imagination Tree
- Glowing Space Ice from Bath Activities for Kids
- A Sheet of Ice + Salt + Food Colouring for some beautiful sensory play from Play Create Explore
- Have a Rainbow Bubble-Fest from Small Potatoes
- Bubble Bath Spray Painting from Growing a Jewelled Rose
- This is a lovely post from MamaSmiles about playing with Bubbles!
- Try some Brilliant Bubbles from Learn With Play at Home
- Whisk Up Coloured Sensory Soap from The Imagination Tree
- Homemade Giant Bubbles from Happy Hooligans
- Try a Bubbly Bowl of Snowballs from Small Potatoes
X is for Xylophones and Instruments
Like smell, sound is sometimes forgotten when it comes to setting up sensory activities. A great way for children to learn about and engage with sound is through music. Children's musical instruments are easily available and they are really easy to make too, as simple as popping some rice in a container - and shake! Making noise, tho not always conducive to a peaceful environment, can help children express themselves, release tension, and develop social and language skills. This is a lovely article from Play Activties; Sensory Play 4 Sound, which talks about all the benefits and different ways of playing with sound.
Here are some sensory play ideas that include music and sound:
- Coloured Water Xylophone from Play at Home Mom
- Fancy Egg Shakers from Mamasmiles
- DIY Rain Stick from In Lieu of Preschool
- Pre Kinders have some wonderful ideas here, including a What Makes a Sound tray
- DIY Sound and Smell Cylinders from 2 Little Seeds - The Montessori Potential
- Make a Texture and Sound Basket from Carrots are Orange
You can also buy some more lovely sound sensory toys, here are some of my favourites
Y is for Young Toddlers and Babies
A lot of sensory play can be a bit of a minefield for babies and younger toddlers who like to put everything in their mouths, however there are lots of activities that you can set up that do not pose any problems. Check out 'B is for Baths and Bottles' for some ideas. Think BIG when you set up a baby's sensory play; you can still create a sensory tray or basket, but use big textured balls, or plastic cotton reels, big blocks, textured fabrics... Ive collected some ideas:
- Once again The Imagination Tree has lots of great ideas, here are three of my favourites; Raspberry Spagetti, Water Play and a Fibre Optic Sensory Cave
- Fun with Leaves: Fall Themed Sensory Baby Play from Plain Vanilla Mom
- Plain Vanilla Mom also has Sensory Bags for Baby and Sensory Bottles for Babies
- I just love this Homemade Sensory Mat from Pie Mummy
- DIY Sensory Board from Laughing Kids Learn
- Heuristic Play is basically playing with everyday objects, and this is great for baby play too, make discovery baskets for them like these from Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks.
- NurtureStore has a lovely post on How to Make a Treasure Basket too
Z is for Zest
Zest is a good word for sensory play - lemons; think texture, taste, colour and smell - but really I chose Zest for Z because I truly believe you need to approach sensory play, like any other kind of play, but more so with sensory play, with enthusiasm and exuberance,. Your children will more than likely enjoy any sensory activities with a natural curiosity and excitement, but they may pick up on any anxiety or reluctance you feel and this will stifle the learning and development opportunities, and may breed mess related stress in your children too.
Enjoy sensory play with your children, stay calm and happy; join in or watch in wonder!
I really hope you enjoyed this ABC series on Sensory Play. Don't forget to check out the other ABCs of... posts. You can find the full list here.
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