Sensory Play: The Clever Way
What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you taste? What do you feel? Encouraging children to consider and answer these questions is the vital part of sensory play.
In a nutshell, sensory play summarises the various types of activities that stimulate any or all of a child’s five senses. It is an important element taught in preschools and daycare centres, essential to brain development in the early years.
Sensory play isn’t something that needs to be difficult. It can be as simple as, listening to different sounds and getting children to identify whether what they heard was a cow ‘mooing’ or a cat ‘meowing’.
As teachers, parents/guardians and carers, when a child is playing with an object, it is important to get into the habit of engaging with them and asking; What can you see? How does it feel? What does it look like? Or What does it smell like?
At Young Academics Early Learning Centre, our tailored Evolution Program incorporates the five senses through various activities that are specifically curated to encourage sensory play.
Apply sensory play to everyday activities
A very simple example of incorporating sensory play into any simple activity is making a fruit salad with little ones, highlighting each of the five senses:
Ask your little one to choose one type of fruit per colour, allowing them to see a mix of hues
After safely chopping crispier fruits, kids can then feel for softer fruits like berries
Add an extra flavour for punch, such as passionfruit pulp, for children to taste different tangs
Once all fruit is mixed, kids can smell the fresh, different types of flavours and identify which fruit has the most distinct scent
In tasting and chewing different fruits, little ones can listen out for what fruits are the noisiest and crunchiest
At Young Academics Early Learning Centre, our educators create a fun and safe environment for children to continue to develop and learn new skills.
The various benefits of sensory play that are our staff highly encourage include:
Promoting cognitive evolution
Cognitive growth relates to a child’s brain development - how they process information, learn skills, languages and comprehend different ideas. Examples of activities that promote cognitive growth include:
- counting numbers
- reciting the alphabet
- identifying different shapes
- recognising different colours
- singing along with teachers and classmates
Fostering fine and gross motor skills
Fine motor skills are small movements, such as holding cutlery, that require the use of small muscles; whereas gross motor skills are the bigger movements, such as walking up and down a set of stairs. Sensory play incorporates activities that require both types of skills in various contexts, promoting muscle growth.
Allowing children to grow at their own pace
Every child develops at a different stage. Sensory play provides a learning environment that encourages children to express their own emotions, use their own discretion and take their own action is facilitating an activity.
Teaching children to distinguish certain characteristics
This type of play is a great avenue in teaching contrasts and complements. For instance, through sensory activities, children learn and identify different characteristics such as hot & cold; dry & wet; light & dark.
Enhancing memory development
Studies show that children (and even adults) learn the most effectively when their senses are engaged, and emotions triggered. This is another key reason sensory play boasts an abundance of benefits, aiding in brain development