Hey new geeky friends! I'm Margaux, a stay-at-home/work-at-home wife to Steven and mama to Darwin, our 15 month old. I write a family friendly blog called Young Nesters where you could find me sharing about our family adventures. While Mama G is taking some well deserved R&R from blog-land I thought I'd share something that we love to do over at our house. I've got a very busy toddler on my hands so I'm always looking for new ideas to pique his interest. Sensory play is a great way to break up the routine at home and offer stimulating activities that occupy the kids for a while. But it isn't just fun and games (and possibly a way to get a few minutes time to gather your thoughts), there's some great opportunity for learning.
Motor skills. I think this is probably the most obvious benefit. Grasping tiny objects, putting things in and taking things out, scooping, splashing, digging... All of these skills are put to use when toddlers are allowed the opportunity to explore sensory objects in their environment. And how does practicing these skills help in other aspects of their (and our) life? They are practicing and fine tuning the very same muscles and motions as picking up and putting away toys, brushing teeth, holding their cup with out spilling, the list goes on and on.
Toddlers learn through their environment. Without advanced language skills they are constantly learning based on what is presented to them by their senses. Given the opportunity to play and explore with a variety of objects gives them the chance to continue to process new details about their world.
Cognitive-emotional regulating. Have you ever wanted to smash something when you were beyond angry? Or how about relieving anxiety by squeezing a stress ball? These are examples of how we use sensory experiences the same way we can inspire our toddlers to explore. Certain activities can even be great pre-bed time calm down time because it focuses the child's attention and energy on an experience that can be very calming. And other activities can give our kiddos the chance to smash, bang, or otherwise release negative feelings and self-regulate.
Some of our favorite sensory play items are:
Dry pasta noodles (different shapes)
Acorns gathered from the back yard
Good old dirt
Cornstarch and water (try adding some flour too!)
Baking soda and vinegar
What else can you think of or have you tried?
Want to read more about this topic? Here are some great resources:
Not Just Cute - A Handful of Fun: Why Sensory Play is Important for Preschoolers
HighScope Extentions - Look, Listen, Touch, Feel, Taste: The Importance of Sensory Play
The Imagination Tree - Sensory Play
I love all these ideas, Margaux! Thanks for sharing!