Posted on Nov 28th 2022
Most children love getting their hands (and bodies) messy with pretty much anything. While it can be frustrating for caretakers to clean up the chaos, this kind of play is crucial to children’s development. Children learn about their bodies and the world around them through their five senses—sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound. At Romp n' Roll Pittsburgh East, we encourage children’s development by providing sensory play in a safe environment.
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child's senses. Sensory play focuses on one or more of the five main senses. It can also include a focus on movement, balance, and spatial awareness. Sensory activities based in play encourage natural exploration and growth while providing an entertaining activity. Here's a review of six different kinds of sensory play:
When a child explores something with their hands, they use their tactile senses. This engagement is one of the most common forms of sensory play. Children learn about textures, temperatures, pressure, vibration, and more through tactile play.
Our sense of balance comes from our vestibular system, which is located in the inner ear. Jumping, rolling around, hanging, and swinging are all forms of sensory play that work the vestibular system and help kids develop balance and strength.
Proprioception is knowing where your body is in space and in relation to other objects. Babies have very little proprioception, but as they grow and learn to move their bodies, they develop and strengthen this sense. Children increase their sense of proprioception and body awareness through activities like pushing, pulling, clapping and jumping.
Toys and things that make noise aren’t always enjoyable for adults, but they’re great for kids! Things that play music or make loud noises, interesting clicks, crashes, and booms help children develop hearing and the ability to differentiate sounds.
Pointing out an airplane as it flies by above, naming the colors of the rainbow, and enjoying something sparkly are great ways to engage in visual sensory play. Helping your child experience new things with their eyes will strengthen their eyesight and capacity to interpret new visuals.
The olfactory sense, or sense of smell, and sense of taste are closely related and often used in conjunction with one another. Your child engages their olfactory and taste senses by smelling flowers, licking a sucker, or even mouthing a toy. You can encourage the development of these senses by letting them try new foods and smells.
Creating sensory play activities can be challenging, especially if you've never done them before! To get you started, we've compiled a list of easy activities you can do at home with just a few supplies. Some activities might be messy, but that's part of the fun!
For the most part, children will engage in sensory play on their own because it is a massive part of their natural learning and development. So when you see them (safely) exploring something new—encourage it! Sensory play has many benefits as your child grows, and you can join in by creating fun sensory play activities. If you want to get out of the house or you want your child to engage in sensory play without making a mess at home, try a class at Romp n' Roll Pittsburgh East! We offer many courses that can engage your child's senses in new and exciting ways. Sign your child up for a class today!