Running, jumping, skipping and climbing. Grasping, pulling, buttoning, tying. It may not seem that these skills would be related to sensory play. But they definitely are!
We all learn about our environments through exploring with our senses. We take everything in as we see, hear, touch, smell and taste.
This week we’re discussing motor skills and how they are developed through sensory play.
What are motor skills?
Motor skills are any that involve movements and the development of muscles. They are divided into two categories, fine and gross. Gross motor involves the larger muscles and movement of the entire body. Fine motor includes smaller movement usually involving the hands and fingers. These skills generally evolve together and require coordination of all muscle groups.
How do motor skills develop?
Motor skills evolve from infancy through early childhood. They begin for babies with hand-eye coordination and gaining control of their movements. Toddlers begin to develop more skills as they learn to walk, run, jump, color and stack. Preschoolers can master things like use of utensils and pulling zippers and gain more of a sense of balance. By the time children are school age they are able to draw, tie shoelaces, skip and play games involving more coordination.
How does sensory play help?
Sensory play can involve the use of hands, feet and sometimes even the mouth to explore materials. Exploring with the senses is taken in by the brain to produce a response or movement. The brain will make different connections as the body discovers something cold, squishy, wet or bumpy. This is often referred to as sensorimotor skill.
By giving children material to explore with their eyes, ears, hands, noses and mouths, their bodies learn how to respond.
Sensory bins, bottles and bags provide the chance to develop both fine and gross motor skills. Children will be pushing objects around, picking them out with a pincer grip, pouring and squishing. Sensory play could even involve painting with feet or stepping through materials which would definitely target some gross motor movement!
What items are needed?
By adding a few things to sensory play set up children will be encouraged to develop motor skills.
Many activities can easily be turned into a sensory-rich experience! And through this type of play motor skills will be developed for children of any age. Go explore and have fun!
Amy is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and writer. She loves sharing what she knows about family, play and early learning. When she’s not at her computer you can find her spending family time, organizing or decorating her home, reading a good self-help book or pretending she knows how to cook but she usually leaves that to her awesome husband!