Just yesterday we checked and noticed we have shared over last couple years over 60 sensory play ideas! And yet, we never explained how to get started with sensory play for beginners, or why it’s beneficial for kids, even those without sensory issues. We are going to change this with new series of articles about an importance of sensory play with kids!
Here we will share some of our tips gained from years experiencing and watching our children play with different materials and enjoying the sensation of learning in a fun and engaging way.
The most important thing to keep in mind: let the child guide you. Sensory play is meant to be fun experience, not something tedious they have to do. It should be something they look forward to! Discovering new sensory bin filled with little wonders every once in a while… Doesn’t it sound like a treasure hunt?
Why is sensory play important for children?
Some of our best and most valuable memories come from experiences that involve many of our senses.
Think about a walk in the woods on a cool day. Birds chirping in your ears, breathing the fresh air scent, leaves crunching under your feet, stopping to rest on a rock to enjoy a stream.
Experiences like that can help us see things clearly, teach us something new about ourselves, the world around us or the people with us and are just overall enjoyable.
It’s the same thing for children and their development when they have the opportunity to explore through play with several senses at a time.
Setting up and including sensory play does not have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, most sensory play can be set up using materials you already have at home.
There are just some basic things to keep in mind and materials to gather to get you started.
Basic supplies needed for sensory play
We will list here some of the most basic supplies you will need to set up your first sensory bin or prepare your first sensory bag and bottle. Most of these supplies can be used both indoors and outdoors, depending on season and available space you have at your home or classroom.
Start with a plastic bin wide and deep enough to contain most of the items you would like to place inside to turn it into a fun and inviting sensory bin. Find it here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
An alternative to a classic sensory bin would be a sensory table. Honestly, it completely depends on how much space you have available and how you would like to present the sensory bin to children. Some of the teachers we know prefer to have weekly themed sensory tables on display and allow children to access them at any time. Find it here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
This one is must have to keep the sanity! Just kidding! But, sensory play if often messy and it is certainly helpful if you can use waterproof tablecloth to protect the surface under and around the sensory bin. Find it here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Cups of different sizes for scooping and pouring
We love to use the toys we already have in sensory bins! Same goes with stacking cups – although they are primarily used as toys kids stuck in tall towers, they can simply be repurposed in a sensory bin. Use them as scooping and pouring tools to help with fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Find it here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Tongs or tweezers
My kids adore this fine motor set! You have everything you would need to let them experience different actions with their little fingers and hands! Find it here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
We use Ziploc bags in different sizes to store different sensory bin fillers for reuse at later time. Another thing we will need them for is to make a sensory bag. Find it here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Sensory bin fillers
Usually, we start by filling a sensory bin with sensory bin fillers. Think about it as a bottom layer of materials you use to stimulate child’s senses.
Few everyday materials use as sensory fillers and get you started with sensory play:
The possibilities are endless for what to include! Get creative!
There are also many ways to create variety with what gets added to the bin.
Small items you can use inside sensory bins:
There are many developmental benefits with sensory play. These will be explored in more detail in future posts, especially for children with special needs.
But no matter how sensory play is set up children gain an understanding of how materials are used and how they work together. They gain concentration, fine motor skills and have an incredible opportunity to use their imagination.
Tips for beginners to sensory play
Caution! Keep in mind a lot of sensory materials can pose a choking hazard. Sensory play should always be supervised.
Demonstrate how to use the materials when they’re introduced.
Play alongside your child if they want but let them take the lead.
These simple materials will get you off to a great start including sensory materials in your play time! I’m sure you’ll be happy you did!
Further Reading About Sensory Play
As we progress through exploring sensory play and many of faces and benefits it holds for our children, we will take a look at these topics:
- How Sensory Play Benefits Cognitive Development
- How Sensory Play Benefits Motor Development
- How Sensory Play Benefits Language Development
Hope you will find shared information easy to follow and implement at home or in your classroom.
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