We have been touting messy-sensory play since the inception of messy box, so I thought it would be apt to kick off this blog by answering a simple question - Why sensory play?
Obvious answers from google first:
1. Sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain's pathways, which lead to the child's ability to complete more complex learning tasks
2. Sensory play develops language, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction
3. Sensory play develops and enhances memory functioning
4. Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child
5. Sensory play helps children learn vitally important sensory attributes
Here are some benefits we really liked
- Sensory play is accessible to children of all ages, a same setup can be presented to children of varying ages, with the difference being the way they approach the materials.
To illustrate: Take a rubber ball for instance, a baby might look at it, hit it, or bite it, whereas an older toddler may attempt to bounce, toss and catch it. Given to a preschooler, he/she might try to balance it on the back of his/her hand etc.
- Children are naturally drawn to natural materials, which allows us to draw their attention and engage them better as compared to a complex toy, this makes it easier for the adult to engage the child in various learning opportunities
- It is versatile: Sensory play can be setup to teach colours, letters, counting, density and many other concepts. It can be done outdoors with natural/large materials or indoors with more intricate setups
- Parent-child interaction: Being a child-led activity, parents can easily identify a child's likes, dislikes and aptitudes etc. by observing and asking leading questions
Limitations of Sensory Play
Due to it being a child-led activity, not all defined objectives such as 'learning skip counting by end of session' can be achieved if child's interest is piqued by the colours and textures of the setup instead
Sensory play is recommended as a crucial part of your child's playtime. Yet like all things in life, balance is key, there is no need to substitute everything with sensory play. It can be used to supplement and reinforce other learning methods, such as triggering your child's memory of a story he/she just read with a sensory bin inspired by the story, or teaching the concept of time with a day/noon/night themed sensory bin, the list goes on...
We will be sharing more articles and thoughts on this blog, and hopefully inspire you with more play ideas for your little one.