Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sensory Play is Important and Fun!

Although it can be really messy, sensory tables or bins are great for preschoolers and toddlers, and fun for older kids too!  Infants and young children learn by using all of their senses.  You put something in front of a baby and what will the baby do? They will put it in their mouth, see how it tastes, how it feels in their mouth and hands, smell it, shake it and see if it makes noise!

This is why most preschools and day cares will employ some sort of sensory table/bin/box or other forms of sensory play.  Sensory play can be found in sandboxes, pools and water buckets, walking barefoot in the grass, picking up snow with bare hands, crafts with ribbons, sand paper, pom poms, scented markers, cotton balls scented with essential oils or baking extracts, dry rice, bird seeds, pebbles or aquarium rocks, cooking, and when babies are involved - mouthing everything they can find!  Obviously keep your child's age in mind when you plan what you will use so your little one doesn't eat something or choke.  For little ones who still put everything in their mouth you can use edible things like finger painting with pudding, or playing with jello.  There are tons of other things to use as well, google Sensory Play or Sensory Table Ideas.
 I recently filled our small sensory bin with red and white beans.  It was a huge hit!  I provided measuring cups, small cups to scoop with and into, spoons, kitchen set toys, and little ladles.
 They were able to practice scooping, pouring and transfer skills.  They learned what happened when they filled a larger dish with beans and then tried to pour the contents into a smaller dish, and why that happened.
 They made patterns and pictures with the beans, they counted beans, they made hand prints in the bin with the beans, and ran them through their hands and fingers.  On day two of the bean bin we put the whole bin in the fridge for a couple hours and played with them cold for a new experience!

Sure I spent a lot of my time scooping beans back into the play area and bin, but the extra clean up is well worth the learning experience they had!
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