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The Open School of Creative Arts

The Open School of Creative Arts
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F - J in the ABCs of Sensory Play

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F is for Fragrances

Smell is a really important sense that often gets forgotten in play. The scent in a room or outside can seriously affect our mood and well-being, in a spa it always smells wonderful to help you relax and feel at ease... have you ever noticed how uncomfortable and irritable you can feel if there is a bad smell around (especially when you were pregnant!!)? And its actually very easy to to add fragrance to a sensory activity; you can use essential oils, food and drink, herbs and spices (which you will find a whole section on in H further down), flowers and other natural materials. Here are some scent ideas:

  • peppermint
  • eucalyptus 
  • tea tree 
  • pine 
  • coffee
  • tea 
  • herbal and fruit teas are a good way to infuse smell
  • fruit - strawberry and banana have quite prominent smells
  • citrus - can come from the juice and zest of the fruit, and you can buy flavoured oils as well 
  • herbs 
  • spices - cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are a few of my favourites 
  • soap and shaving foam have their own 'clean' kind of smells ;)
  • shampoo and conditioners often have great fragrances 
  • flowers and leaves 
  • rose water 
  • lavender 
  • chocolate or cocoa 
  • pre-made oils and mists, like aqua mist which smells like the sea.
  • you can burn scented candles or oil burners too, but obviously make sure they are in a safe place 
  • coconut
  • almond 
  • peanuts (be wary of allergies) 

Here are some sensory activities that use smells prominently:

Baking and cooking are great hands on sensory activity that definitely includes smells. We made Gingerbread and the whole house smelled delicious. Baking bread gives off a wonderful smell too. 

G is for Glitter 

Glitter is for life, not just for Christmas! 
Glitter is one of my all time favourite things. It truly makes me happy. And it is a great addition to any sensory play. I am going to share some of my favourite sparkly sensory activities but first I urge you to get a tub of glitter and slowly pour it on to your child's hands. Its amazing!! Do it. :)

There is so much you can do with glitter, and it can be added to pretty much any activity for an extra sparkle! We get our glitter from the 99p shop [dollar store], Ive also dipped into my own stash of make up glitter and shimmer dust which is still pretty inexpensive. 

H is for Herbs and Spices 

This leads on from fragrance somewhat, as of course all herbs and spices smell - some nicer than others. 
Herbs and spices also have great textures and colours, which make them wonderful sensory materials. Here are some great sensory play ideas that involve herbs and spices:

I is for Imaginative Play  

Imaginative play is always great for young children, and is vital for their learning and for developing their understanding of the world. Using sensory play with imaginative play only enhances the experience and engagement and therefore increases the learning. 

Use tea bags and coffee granules for the pretend tea party, serve up playdough cupcakes, make some smelly medicine for the doctor's kit, make fairy dust for the fairy garden, bake with wholegrain playdough, cook up some garden soup, make a mud pie, or even a mud kitchen...

Small world play and themed sensory trays are great ways to combine sensory and imaginative play, and we'll look at that when we get to 'S' and 'T'   :) 

J is for Jelly and other Edible Sensory Play 

Edible sensory play is wonderful. Think about how much children learn at mealtimes! (While we're on that topic, be sure to check out the ABCs of the Family Dinner Table from Connecting Family and Seoul). Edible sensory play engages all the sense, you smell it, see it, feel it, taste it and hear it (crunch crunch!), and food provides some of the best sensory materials for play, even if they are not especially tasty. 

disclaimer: make sure that children are always supervised when putting things in their mouths. 
  • Jelly
  • Yogurt 
  • Pudding or Angel Delight
  • Ice cream 
  • Spagetti  
  • Flour 
  • Sugar 
  • Custard 

And here are some of those in action:

Well thats part 2 of your ultimate guide to sensory play! Come back tomorrow for even more ideas and inspiration, when we go from Kid's Play to Occasions! 

Dont forget to stay connected to Creative Playhouse here: 


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