Every day, we see kids jumping in the water, dancing to their favorite tunes, playing with objects or other children, and breaking things we love! By doing these activities, kids explore their environment through their senses. This is what we call “sensory play.” In other words, sensory play is any activity that involves the senses, namely, sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. It is crucial for a child’s growth and development. In this blog, let’s take some time to discuss how kids benefit from sensorial activities.

Without further ado, let’s start right away!

Various Types of Sensory Play

Types of Sensory Play

Sensory play stimulates a kid’s senses and enhances their cognitive development. It can be anything like the following:

  • Blowing bubbles
  • Playing with shaving foam
  • Creating art with Play-Doh
  • Finger-painting
  • Making structures (like castles) in the sand

All the above activities promote the growth of a child’s brain and enhance their “gross motor skills.” Crawling, sitting, running, and jumping are all gross motor skills. Sensorial activities also help develop a child’s fine motor skills, such as writing, tying their shoes, and zipping up their coats.

Sensory play encourages children to experiment with things and interact socially. It also helps with their language development and fosters interaction with their surroundings.

Is Sensory Play Always Messy?

Sensory Play Might Be Messy

Kids usually love doing messy things, but sensorial activities need not be messy always. For instance, just asking a kid to fill up a bottle with small colored balls is also a sensorial activity. While doing so, the child looks at the colors of the balls, which helps improve their sight. They touch and feel the bottle and the balls, which enhances their sense of touch, and also listen to the sounds of the balls filling the bottle, which helps them develop their sense of hearing.

Thus, with a simple, non-messy activity, you can get a child involved in sensory play. However, getting messy is also good for the child because, when they are exposed to everyday microbes, it results in the natural build-up of the immune system

At What Age Can You Start Sensory Play?

Age to Start Sensory Play

Kids start interacting with their environment right from their birth. They begin observing the surroundings and faces of people around them. As they grow up, they differentiate colors, smile at others, and try holding their hands. Here are some simple techniques to soothe crying babies.

As each kid has their own pace of development, there is no specific age at which they can get involved in sensory play. However, at the age when they start enjoying the surroundings through their senses, you can actively involve them in sensorial activities. 

How is Sensory Play Beneficial to Kids?

Sensory activities assist kids in breaking down complex tasks into simple, manageable steps, which is very much essential for problem-solving. These activities also help kids share and communicate with others of the same age group. In addition, sensory play proves beneficial to kids in the following areas.

1. Cognitive Development

Sensory Play for Cognitive Development

Cognitive growth is all about processing and storing information, solving problems, and completing tasks. 

When kids play with blocks, they see how the blocks stand upon each other. They realize that the blocks bang against one another, which makes sounds. These experiences boost a child’s sense of exploration and discovery, which shape their minds for the future. Sensory play and the experiences preschool kids get from it are also crucial for their future ability to read and write. Such activities also help kids solve problems in science and math later in life. Talking about cognitive development and memory, you might like reading about how being enthusiastic protects your memory from aging

2. Creative Thinking

Sensory Play for Creative Thinking

Many linguistic experts praise the benefits of sensory play. They say it motivates kids to use their first descriptive words and phrases, and also expressive language to describe their feelings. In addition to developing language skills, sensorial activities aid in the development of other creative practices like painting among kids. Some types of painting that boost creativity among children are given below:

  • Splatter painting
  • Blow painting
  • Blot art
  • Spin painting
  • Drip painting

3. Self-Calming 

self calming

Many kids involved in sensory play find it to be a calming experience. Children with sensory sensitivities find it more beneficial because the activities calm their nerves. They find the diversion and engagement in activities soothing because their brains are occupied with completing the tasks given to them. Since we are talking about calming experiences and soothing, you can also read the 5 steps to tame that temper

4. Better Brain Connections

Sensory Play for Better Brain Connections

The minds of kids immersed in sensory play eventually get trained to filter out unnecessary sensory experiences, such as loud noise, while concentrating on an important task. Their brains learn to differentiate between the task at hand that needs to be completed and the other unwanted distractions that hamper the task.

5. Social Interaction

Sensory Play for Social Interaction

Kids can get involved in sensory play by themselves or with other kids at home or school. Preschool children usually play with others of the same age, and when all of them practice sensory play together, it’s more beneficial to them. For instance, a kid playing with Play-Doh will use their hands to create shapes and figures. While doing that, they will watch the other children create shapes that are pretty different from their own. So, they will chat and find out more about each other, which paves the way for better social interactions. This can even be helpful for kids who are too shy

Getting Kids to Practice Sensory Play

Sensory Play

A kid involved in the same type of sensorial activity day in and day out will soon get bored or tired of it. So, parents and teachers must take steps to keep the kids engaged in different activities each day. Age-appropriate sensory play is essential for kids to sense, feel, and understand the objects around them. They should find the activities interesting as well as educating. 

Supervision during activity time might be essential. The supervisor can step back and keep an eye on the kids, and at the same time, allow them to experiment and explore on their own. It is wise to be cautious when kids play with tiny objects because they can cause choking hazards. It’s imperative that parents and teachers keep the kids involved, happy, and most importantly, safe!