Our skin is our body’s largest organ. So it makes sense that much of what our brains learn and perceive about our world is first communicated to us through our skin. Our sense of touch is so important, in fact, that it is the first to develop in the womb and babies can die from lack of being touched.
Our sense of touch is so important, in fact, that it is the first to develop in the womb and babies can die from lack of being touched.
Processing touch begins with nerve endings all over our bodies that send signals to our brains. These nerve endings make us aware of contact, heat, cold and pain. Some of the nerve endings like those on the tips of our fingers are more sensitive than others. This helps our brains discriminate what sensations need reaction.
Most of us are not aware moment by moment of the clothes we are wearing. For some with sensory processing disorders, however, sensitivities are heightened and a seam or a tag in a shirt might be unbearable.
When we think about sensory play I imagine most of us think first of activities that involve the sense of touch. There are so many great ideas for sense of touch activities. We’ve narrowed them down to a few categories and basic materials to get you started.
Exploring Texture through Play:
- Create a swatches board of rough, fluffy, smooth, bumpy, soft, etc. materials, and play Touch and Match Game
- Explore a sensory bin with dry materials:
- Or wet materials:
Learning about Temperature:
- Ice cubes in a bin
- Warm water in a bin
- Mix room temperature and frozen water beads
- Ziploc bags with warm and cold water to touch and squish
Games for Sense of Touch:
- Place familiar items in a bag and identify by touch.
- Touch familiar items and describe how they feel.
- Go on a scavenger hunt inside or out to find materials of different textures.
Whether it’s deciding to put on a jacket outside or learning to stay away from a hot stove our sense of touch teaches so much! Rough, smooth, scratchy, silky…there is so much to explore in our homes and the world around us!
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!