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U - Z of the ABCs of Sensory Play

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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?

Sensory Play allows children to develop: 

  • 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. 

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: 

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:

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:

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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