What’s the Big Deal About Sensory Play for Kids?

What’s the Big Deal about Sensory Play? Don’t you need flash cards and expensive toys to be able to enroll your future rocket scientist in the right college when they are 2 years old? (I may or may not be exaggerating.)

If you ask a dozen people on your block to explain Sensory Play chances are you will get 12 different answers. Why is that? It’s not a secret.

Gee, I don’t why so many people have different ideas… so I’ll just give you my version as an old RN, an early childhood educator and I was the owner of a fun e-commerce store that sell fun stuff for kids with an educational twist. But, I retired from business and still need to update my old blog posts. OOPS! Working on it.

What’s the secret early childhood experts want you to know about the child’s developing brain?

If you you ask professionals who work with the young child they will give you a more detailed response then my colorful images with a short phrase.

Or – ask your 3rd grader to name the 5 senses. Sensory Learning is all about incorporating the senses.

Can you name the 5 senses?

Of course you know…

  1. taste,
  2. sight,
  3. touch,
  4. smell,
  5. hearing

Using as many of the five senses as possible when encouraging a learning situation helps not only children to retain and process information-but using the senses also help adults as well…pretty basic, isn’t it?

Using the senses in play help develop neuro pathways to the brain

Use it or lose it…

You’ve heard that statement I’m sure. Did you know that we can help develop more path ways for input to get to a child’s brain by offering this safe and age appropriate experiences?

We are parents, grand parents and child care providers we can sort of help build a brain by the activities we offer to even a small infant. ( Sorry, I am not giving examples in the post- only the WHY?)

I’m not an expert on head injury, but, I attended some head injury meeting with my late husband who had several serious brain injuries. As an RN I pick up on what fascinating speaker taught me: ” There can be prescribed different “activities” or exercises for with head adults with brain injuries that may help new pathways develop t at can make up for the parts that were damaged and can’t regenerate?”

Sensory Play for children is Common Sense suing the 5 senses

I am not licensed to be teaching people on a blog how to do that very highly trained work. I suppose I could write a few books from all of many years of experience…but I have plenty else to do like write blogs, manage an e-commerce store, completing writing a sequel novel and caring fora disable adult child. But, I will find time to answer questions form followers.

I will say that I used the information I learned in that group to help my young patients with developmental disabilities. ( If my words ring a bell- consult a professional to get the best guidance.)

What I am saying to parents of infants and small children is – you do not have to have a teaching degree or medical degree to help your child’s brain to develop. Just use Common Sense…the 5 senses in every day tasks of living.

Picking up small pieces of Cheerios or stringing beads develop small/ fine motor skills. Hopping like a bunny or walking slow as turtle help develop large motor muscles- Child’s play is a good thing.

Re-siting poems or singing silly songs with hand motions is fun way to develop language with sensory play

Sensory Play is helpful when encouraging cognitive thinking skills

When we offer (planned fro safety ) sensory learning experiences using a combination of senses children develop sensory memory about the various attributes of materials.

Example: ice cream is cold- leave a ice cream in the hot cars- it melts. YUCK!

M-m-m? That mess offers opportunity to observe and experience consequences. This is wonderful opportunity to talk about the problem of melted ice cream and how to solve the problem of not having the ice cream melt all over the car seat wen left in the hot car.

Melting ice cream just of fun on your car seat is not my favorite sensory learning idea…ick happens and we may as well learn something from it.

How can Sensory learning help children learn to problem solve?

What might happen if you don’t not clean up the melted ice cream on the car seat?

Don’t try this at home-… because we as grown ups have had time to develop a lot of experiences our sensory memory reminds us that a week old melted ice cream cones will STINK!

Then would you want to taste it? I don’t think so…

Well designed sensory learning helps kids to learn social skills

Here’s an example:

Games like Duck Duck Goose or Pass the Orange involves a number of senses and uses large motor muscles in organized play- think about it…

Children learn the value of waiting your turn while participating in a social group.

  • self control
  • rules of the game
  • respect

Associate something to must remember with a smell or a sound you can retain the memory longer

Can you name a smell that is calming?

Lavender signals my brain to chill out. And many people find that true as well

Smelling pop corn reminds you of going to the movies to see your favorite picture show.

Singing a song like BINGO and substituting the letter or you child’s name helps them learn to spell their name.

I often used play dough in a class room of ..let’s say..high energy boys….to diffuse potential knock-down-drag-out out of control fights that other teachers were experiencing. Play dough is very sensory to feel. You can touch it lightly or you can pound it hard. You can make play in many colors and you can even scent it with a drop of essential oil.

I also used breathing technique that I had learned in Lamaze of all places, for calming techniques. You can hear and feel your breath- focus on the sound or the rate of your breathing to change high emotions.

My expertise was Behavior Management of Children with Special Needs. I spent years and years working on my expertise. So there is no way to share everything I know on one blog post…nor do I want to give away all of my trade secrets.

But, I will say this: Understanding the value of using the common senses saved my behind and a class room full of kids when I was called in to rescue a teacher from crisis situations with out of control behavior.

I encourage teachers and parents to learn all you can about Sensory Play then adapt by trial and error to you child’s particular needs at their developmental age. There is no one-size-fits-all SECRET Formula…just have fun with the kids.

When using the senses in the learning process there is no need to crack a ruler across little knuckles to force them to memorize isolated facts that can not relate to. The more a child can get involved with their senses the more relevant information they will absorb and retain and enjoy learning..

It’s better that a baby growing into a child can learn hands -on when they are small. do not wait for your children to go to school to experience life first hand.

Later on their brains will fit it all together…. nor pressure to perform… when they enjoy learning in a peaceful manner.

Some sensory activities can be calming. Can you name a smell that is calming or a something to hold in your hands that is calming?

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Check out other blogger’s posts with awesome ideas and picture:

Sensory play: What it’s all about

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