What is sensory play?
Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates one or more of a child’s senses (touch, smell, taste, sight or sound). In recent years, the benefits of sensory play have been well-regarded by professionals. From the day they’re born, babies will naturally want to explore the world around them, and they do this by using their senses; that’s why they tend to touch everything or put things in their mouths.
The benefits of sensory play
Aside from providing entertainment, sensory play is proven to help a child’s emotional, cognitive and physical development. It encourages them to explore and investigate things, adding to their understanding of the world.
As they get older and begin talking, sensory play can help your child to make connections between words and objects, because they use their senses to form a deeper understanding of things. Water, for example, isn’t just wet anymore; it can be smooth, rough, warm or cold – it can be bubbly or salty, liquid or frozen. By making these associations through play, children can start to understand and explain them in more complex ways.
Sensory play also aids the development of fine motor skills in infants; these are the crucial skills we need to coordinate small muscle groups, and are important for tasks like writing, shoe-tying and buttoning things. Sensory play also helps cognitive development in other areas like problem solving, as well as encouraging social interaction with peers.
The best news is that you don’t need any expensive gadgets for your baby to enjoy a sensory play experience; water is an ideal natural sensory material. Whether your baby is swimming in it or playing with it, it’s one of the easiest tools at your disposal when it comes to sensory development.
Swimming games are a great way to bring sensory play into the pool, but there are plenty of other water play activities that you can share with your baby at home.
We love flower baths and for us it’s always been a colourful way to use Touch & Smell also to begin with.... Taste as Cailyn would often try each flower.
Water play sensory bin
Sensory bins/basins are an easy way to inspire creative play in little ones; simply put a mid-to large-sized container (a low storage box works perfectly) filled with fun objects to encourage play. Sensory bins are particularly beneficial for toddlers, though the idea can be adapted to suit young babies too - simply swap the storage box for a shallow tray. Start by filling your container with cool to lukewarm water, then add objects such as cups, funnels or a children’s watering can to the bin - they’ll love anything that can be used to scoop up and pour the water, so there are endless options! You could even add a selection of bath toys. Adding food colouring or a mild scent to the water will enhance your baby’s sensory experience even more.
Water sensory mats
These are flat, clear mats that are filled with colourful objects (usually 2D shapes or glitter). When your baby presses on the mat, its contents will move around. Your baby will love the movement and colour that comes with these. Though you can buy water sensory mats, we prefer the DIY version.
All you need is a Ziploc freezer bag, Duct tape, water and some small items you can add that won’t poke through the bag (small toys, glitter or confetti work well). Simply add the water and materials to the bag, seal it up and tape the edges.
Adding water to your littles role-playing is an easy way to continue sensory development as they grow. The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started:
* Throw a teddy tea party for your little: fill a plastic teapot with water and encourage them to pour ‘tea’ for their guests.
* Who’s the decorator? He/She can ‘paint’ the garden wall with water - all they need is a big brush or roller!
* Gather some doll’s clothes and help them to do laundry the old-fashioned way. Simply add a little soap or washing up liquid to a pan and watch them go.
Add some soapy water to a washing up bowl and get your little one to give their doll a bath.
* Your explorers will love the carrying out their own ice block excavation. Freeze a plastic toy, or maybe some craft materials, in a container of water overnight. The next day, help your toddler to uncover the hidden ‘treasure’ as the ice begins to melt.
Light, Sound, Magic.....
All these beautiful things that can be easily added to sensory. I took Cailyn to Camera Obscura in Edinburgh recently and she loved it!
She’s 20 months old & she had the best time exploring all the wonders of the different rooms. From magic mirrors ,too the light boxes, 3D features and even the projection screen which she played football on. I highly recommend taking any child age here to fully support their learning experience and the friendliness of the staff really does wonders for the kids too.
You can leave your pram st the bottom floor next to reception while you get creative, explore and see the world through a funny mirror.
I’d advise going to the top floor to see the show, then the balcony/roof top and then each floor one by one so you can fully understand how amazing Cameta Obscura is. You’ll love it just as much, if not more than the kids!
There's alot for the kids to do here, they can interact with different set ups, listen to videos and visualise so many exciting things!
(Photos Below of our day)
Get the food out, the fruits, the crinkle crisps with flavoured dips and let them explore the world with their mouth!
The best way in my opinion as food is so different all over the world so experiencing this and culture is powerful & creative as well as educational. I love travel and I can’t wait to pass adventure over to Cailyn, big and small. Let’s make it worth it!
We recently used Piccolo Squares for our Taste play and these little beauties got demolished..... I can see why as they really look like adult canapés not teething crackers.
I created a sweet & savoury selection for Cailyn & also added a raspberry smoothie in for a tangy morning breakfast alternative from her usual milk or juice & she loved it!!
Well definitely be trying this again.
Get creative, make a mess and have fun!!
Let’s see what you come up with, tag me and I’ll happily share.
Cailyn’s Mummy x