Are you familiar with sensory play? Sensory play is great for toddler and preschooler learning and is all about exploring the world through different textures, shapes and sensations. From PBS.org, “Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory activities and sensory tables facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively.”
We recently partnered with the iHomeschool Network to host a Twitter Party about sensory play, and we received a ton of great sensory play tips from the participants. Check out this great advice…
Different Types of Sensory Play
Sensory play can take several different forms in order to stimulate your child’s different senses. Try:
- – Water
- – Finger painting
- – PLAY-DOH
- – Shaving cream (try it on a cookie sheet or outside)
- – Sensory boxes (see more about this below)
- – Blocks
- – Bubbles and soap suds
- – Beans
- – Cornmeal, corn kernels, sand or birdseed
- – Pebbles
- – Clay
- – Shredded paper
What Is A Sensory Bin and What Is It Good For?
Sensory bins are containers filled with different textured materials to stimulate the senses and provide a safe learning environment and aid development (such as fine-motor skills). The items can range from toys and seasonal fun to more learning type things like blocks, plastic letters and small objects. While they can be messy, they don’t have to be and the free exploration creates a creative and safe place for kids to discover their world.
Sensory Play and Sensory Bin Ideas
Many parents enjoy creating different types of sensory experiences and themed sensory bins. They don’t need to be expensive and can usually be put together with items from around the house. Some ideas:
- – Fall sensory bin. Fill a container with birdseed and popcorn kernels as the base, and then hide themed items in the base. Pinecones, leaves, felt letters or shapes, blocks, shaped dried pasta, pumpkin seeds and fall colored pompoms.
- – Spring sensory bin. Use cornmeal or sand, and hide plastic Easter eggs, rocks, spring animals (butterflies, bugs), balls, cotton balls and silk flowers.
- – Water play. Find a large bowl or water play table for this one. Fill with toys, cups of all sizes, pebbles and even a few soap suds!
- – You don’t need a bin for sensory play. Anything that uses different textures and materials works. Try letting your child paint with spaghetti. Or create a “I Spy” container by using an empty water bottle filled with sand and hidden treasures like small gems, rocks, feathers, seashells and confetti. Try introducing scents into your PLAY-DOH play, such as peppermint or vanilla.
Don’t forget to include cups, containers and tongs for your child to dig and play (if you’re using a bin). Be creative too! If your child loves trains, build a train bin or let them paint using a cheap train toy as the “paintbrush”. Teaching letters and colors? Make it all about that by using beads of different sizes, aquarium rocks, noodles (alphabet pasta!) and plastic or foam letters.
If you need more sensory play ideas, check out all the ideas on Pinterest!