Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your child’s senses – touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. It allows children to explore these senses, gives them an opportunity to be creative and to use their imagination, and helps them to develop essential skills. Below are just some of the benefits of sensory play:
It can support language development – children can describe what they are feeling, seeing, or hearing using descriptive words such as soft, hard, squishy, rough, smooth.
It can be a calming activity, helping them to regain focus and regulate their emotions.
Children develop fine motor skills, pre-scissor skills, and hand-eye coordination through squeezing, pinching, sorting, placing, and scooping.
It enhances their creativity as they find imaginative ways to play with the sensory fillers and materials.
It encourages problem-solving – as they manipulate objects in their sensory play, they are developing key strategies through guessing, experimenting, testing, and drawing conclusions
It encourages independence as they come up with ideas on how to play with the sensory tray/bin all on their own.
In pairing learning activities with sensory play, children are better able to retain what they have learned as they are using a number of their senses while learning. Themed sensory bins, unit studies that incorporate sensory play, sensory stations, incorporating children’s books are just some of the methods that bring learning and sensory play together.
Below are some examples of how I paired my printable learning activities with sensory play:
“HONEYCOMB ALPHABET MATCH”
I used this alphabet-matching printable activity as inspiration to create a bee-themed sensory bin. The sensory bin was filled with black beans as the filler and various other objects to represent a bee hive. I ‘hid’ the laminated alphabet pieces in the sensory bin, and my son had to search, find and match the alphabet honeycomb pieces to the laminated worksheet.
“ANT MINI UNITY STUDY”
I created an ant hill sensory bin using kinetic sand as the base and adding in other sensory fillers for each chamber. Pairing it with my Ant Hill Chambers three-part cards, my son was able to make the connection through a visual set-up.