By stimulating your child’s senses, (touch, smell, taste, vestibular, proprioception, sight and hearing) you are helping them flourish in all areas of development.
Sensory activities facilitate exploration and help children to make connections through their senses and the world in which they live.
The following experiences are my top five favourite and can all be created within the home.
Playdough is a perfect experience that has been a favourite for many generations.
It is not only a perfect fine motor activity but you can extend on it by adding just about any toy such as farm animals to green playdough, sea animals to blue playdough to encourage role-playing or adding herbs such as lavender and mint to encourage the use of all of the senses.
I love using the no-cook recipe so that my children can help to make it and love when they use it in their play kitchen as they role play running a restaurant.
No cook playdough recipe
- 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- Up to 1.5 cups boiling water (adding in increments until it feels just right)
- food colouring (optional)
Mix all dry ingredients together, mix ½ cup of water, oil and food colouring together and slowly pour into dry ingredients whilst mixing them together. Add extra water as needed then knead the dough until desired consistency.
Slime is popular for children from preschool all the way through to teens with my favourite kind being the one made with Lux flakes.
This experience can be used on its own or you can add things such as egg beaters, turkey basters, mixing spoons and cups for pouring.
It can have an amazing calming effect on the person playing with it and is a wonderful way to experiment with cause and effect in regards to the texture changing by mixing, pouring or leaving it to stand without touching.
Lux flakes slime recipe
- 1 cup of Lux flakes
- 3 cups of water
Add 1 cup of Lux Flakes to 3 cups warm water and stir until mixed together.
Leave to set for at least a couple of hours then enjoy.
Ice excavation is one of the best sensory activities ever created.
Freeze anything inside a bowl of water and then give it to your child.
This little beauty can take more than an hour in some situations and is perfect when you need a bit of quiet time or your children need some downtime.
You can add tools such as butter knives for scraping or sauce bottles with warm water to speed up the melting process but watching your children try and problem solve and work out different ways to melt the ice is always interesting.
- Toys such as dinosaurs, lego pieces, figurines etc
Place object in a bowl, fill with water and freeze overnight.
*I always have one in my freezer to use spontaneously on days when I really need a break.
Shredded paper is a perfect sensory experience for babies and toddlers. Simply place a pile of shredded paper into a box and let the fun begin.
Playing with shredded paper is a great way of exploring the textures and sounds of paper and experimenting with cause and effect when ripping the pieces apart.
Things can get a little messy with this experience but when you see the joy on your child’s face it will all be worth it.
What better way to heighten your senses than to get into the garden.
Digging in the dirt is not only great for your immune system but the textures and smells of the garden can help children with their development in all areas and will create beautiful memories to treasure forever.
You don’t need a big garden for this experience. It could be something as simple as making a small herb garden for your windowsill or planting veggies, flowers and shrubs in a larger outdoor space.
There are so many learning experiences when out in the garden. Discovering the many insects, their life cycle and the role that they play within the ecosystem is so valuable. Learning about caring for the plants and how the weather and watering can affect plants, veggies etc is a perfect way to teach children about responsibility.
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