Sensory play can be fun, relaxing and can provide children with opportunities to enhance their learning through the five senses.
These opportunities are remarkably simple and easy to provide. Even though sensory play typically focuses on the sense of touch, there are four other senses to explore
The sense of smell can be developed by taking a walk after a summer shower; plus there is the glorious opportunity for a child to pick up a worm. This same walk can enhance a child’s listening skills through hearing the varied sounds of birds. Children can look for traffic signs, animals in window, and numbers and letters on license plates.
During holiday times children can experience the many different decorations displayed. If you are not able to go outside, there are still many ways to provide sensory activities in the home.
It is surprising how easy it is to provide sensory activities using readily available household objects or dollar store treasures. Foam letters can be buried in a tub of rice for children to find and manipulate; younger children will learn to recognize their letters while older children can make their names and other words.
A child’s sense of touch can be enhanced by filling the kitchen sink with water and providing the children with plastic spoons, containers and funnels. Finger painting with chocolate pudding is a fun sensory activity and adding corn meal or coffee grounds will provide a child with a new texture.
A plastic bottle filled with water and tiny objects, such as buttons, crayon pieces, beads and bolts (for older children) is easy to create; you can then ask your child to describe and count the contents.
The sense of taste can be developed by setting out items, blindfolding the child and ask them if the item is sweet, sour, salty etc. The child can be asked if they can identify the food. A child’s sense of hearing may be enhanced by placing an alarm clock in one room of the house, set it to ring and ask the child which direction the ringing is coming from.
If available you may also use a sea shell and ask the child what sound they hear. Offering smelling sensory activities may seem difficult at first but there are several different activities that will be inexpensive and quick to set up. By setting out items like garlic, vinegar, perfume, bananas, strawberries or lemons, you will be providing an activity that will allow your child to sort items into pleasant and unpleasant categories.
By offering many and varied sensory activities you will be providing your children with valuable educational experiences. These educational experiences focus on an entire range of pre-kindergarten skills such as; counting, classification, pre-writing and pre-reading. These sensory activities are also fun and may create cherished memories for many years to come.
Positive Parenting appears every week in LIFE. This week’s column was written by Kathy Klumpenhower, an outreach worker with Family Services of Central Alberta. Klumpenhower can be reached by calling 403-343-6400 or www.fsca.ca.