Playing is part of a child’s natural development and has a myriad of benefits for a child’s mental and physical growth. Many preschoolers naturally play with toys, dirt, sand, crayons, or whatever other objects are in their environments. They play at home, at daycare, or at school. As parents, it is helpful to have intentional play ideas to help your child properly develop. In particular, using sensory play has great benefits for your preschooler.
What is Sensory Play?
In order to best add sensory play ideas into your preschooler’s life, it is important to understand what sensory play is and to understand its benefits. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child’s senses of touch, sound, taste, smell, or sight. It helps them interact with the world through all five senses. Usually, it focuses on touch, sound, and sight as those are most easily used through play. Sensory play can, by some definitions, also include play that engages balance and movement.
Sensory play is important for young children because they are constantly absorbing information through their senses. With each sense used, their brains create new neural pathways. This helps them learn new things and make sense of the world. For example, a child uses their sense of sound to learn how to speak a language when they are young. When you provide your preschooler with sensory play opportunities, their neural pathways become stronger. Sensory play adds intentional time to their learning and development.
Sensory Play Ideas
There are countless sensory play ideas. Simply use your and your child’s imaginations to involve their senses! But, for easier reference, below are some simple and common sensory play ideas.
Play With Nature
The outdoors and nature offers limitless opportunities to engage your preschooler’s senses. The smell of the air, the sound of birds chirping, the endless sights of trees, animals, soil, your neighborhood, the sky…the list goes on! Ask your child to list the things they hear or see. Encourage them to touch leaves, soil, and flowers. Taking walks in nature provides an ever-changing activity of sensory play.
Having your preschooler join you in the kitchen is a great way to involve their senses of taste and smell. Have them taste ingredients and smell a dish as it is cooking. This is another idea that provides variety as you cook and bake different meals.
Play with Slime or Play-Doh
Slime and Play-Doh are fun ways to use a child’s sense of touch and sight. These products feel different from each other, and they come in a variety of colors, from glittery to multicolored. Play-Doh can be used to build objects, further stretching your child’s imagination.
Taste Test Challenge
For this sensory play idea, your child will cover their eyes while they sample different foods. Then, see if they can guess what it is. You can use plastic cups and put a little bit of food into each one – peanut butter, mustard, cookies, or bread. Make sure that there is a wide variety of textures, smells, and tastes to involve your preschooler’s senses. To make it more fun, you can take turns guessing the food and allow your child to test you.
Wonderschool Child Care
Many preschoolers learn things that help them grow and develop during their time in child care. For parents looking for quality child care in Baltimore, learn more about Wonderschool at https://corp.wonderschool.com. We believe that children who have access to quality child care will be able to reach their full potential. Our Baltimore services include in-home child care and preschool options, so you are able to choose the right service for your developing preschooler.