What is sensory play and why is it beneficial?

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What is sensory play and why is it beneficial?

Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore.

We are born with 5 senses that are all very important but when it comes to teaching we often concentrate on only a few of these. There can be many advantages to sensory play that incorporates all the senses not just one or two. Just like any skills you aren’t just born with them and instead we learn by being exposed to new experiences. Developing each of these senses is very important. Therefore in this blog post, we are going to discuss what the advantages of sensory play are and what sort of activates you might want to include next time you are babysitting or as a parent.




What are the advantages of sensory play?

  1. It supports language development as well as cognitive growth. They can increase their problem-solving skills and social interaction. Often with sensory activities, there will be a group of children so they can work effectively and increase their social skills. Children increase their ability to manipulate new material and understand new concepts.
  2. It can enhance memory functioning. Memories occur when certain neurons are reactivated. This memory will either go into the short or long term memory. By activating the more neurons and sensors there will be a greater chance of this going into the long-term memory. Therefore, by allowing children to take part in sensory activities we can help them enhance their memory function.
  3. It builds nerve connections within the developing brains neural pathways. Therefore it will help children have a greater ability to complete more complex learning tasks.
  4. Children can learn sensory attributes e.g. hot, cold, dry, wet, slimy, spongy and soft. By having an understanding of these sorts of attributes it helps the child gain a better understanding of the world around them.
  5. Often sensory play can help calm children down or reduce anxiety and frustration. If a child is crying or if they are emotionally overwhelmed, letting them uses their senses is a great way to calm them down. This brings them back to the present and can disperse the frustration or sadness they are experiencing. So, next time a child is upset maybe you could use some sensory play.
  6. Sensory play can help children develop their creative process and help keep the imagination flowing

Sensory play isn’t always possible because it can be a bit messier and time-consuming but it is a worthwhile investment. It is also a great opportunity to incorporate teaching English. You can ask simple questions like:

‘How does it feel?’ ‘Is it hot?’ ‘How does it sound?’ ‘What can you hear?’

Get them to describe their feelings in English so that they can try and develop and practise new vocabulary.

So we have told you the benefits but what are some examples of sensory play?

You often find children like to get their hands dirty and stuck in, so a lot of the games they play naturally are building on their sensors. Here are some specific examples of games or activities you can do.

One activity that has previously been mentioned in ‘8 Fun Games to help introduce English to young children’ was the ‘what’s in the Box game.’ This is great for developing your sense of touch. You can place different objects into the box and get the children to try to guess the item. You can use things like a kitchen sponge, crayons or even one of their toys. Adapt the item to what level the children are.

Edible play dough is great especially for younger children. You can find a recipe here. Play dough is great because you can also incorporate practising the English language. You can play a game similar to Pictionary but instead of drawing the object you have to model it out of dough. If you have cards that say different objects in English they can try make the object. Also trying to get the children to guess the object in English is a fun and educational game.

Water xylophone is great for exploring sound. Get similar shape glasses or empty bottles and fill each of them up with different amounts of water. This way when you blow into the top of the glass or you can slightly tap the side of the glass to hear a different sound. You can see if they can hear the difference in pitch of the sound the glass makes. This would be better for older children because there is a bigger risk of causing a spillage with younger children.

The final activity that I am going to mention today is rainbow dyed noodles. This is really easy to set up and can be so entertaining for children, especially younger ones. You simply need so cooked pasta, oil, different coloured dyes and a small container to place everything in. Get at least four different coloured dyes and you can place them all together in a bowl. This is totally safe (and editable) for children and helps them develop their understanding of different colours and touch.

I hope that you have found this interesting and let us know if any of you children enjoy these activities down in the comments. Until next time…

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