Sensory play is any activity that involves using the senses, including sight, smell, touch, taste, sight and balance. Sensory play allows children — from babies through elementary school — to explore in new and creative ways, expanding their knowledge of the world around them.
Not only is sensory play fun for kids, it also encourages scientific process through the senses, according to Parenting for Brain, which notes that stimulating the senses helps kids develop creatively, socially and emotionally, cognitively, linguistically and physically. In other words, sensory play is imperative for long-time learning and health.
Sensory play activities are easy to create,” says Belinda Lies, Director of Kiddie Campus, director of Kiddie Campus, in Yorkville. “ By providing a variety of child-friendly, open ended, every day materials, children have the opportunity to discover how their senses work through imagination-based play and experimentation.”
This can be as simple as giving children a colander and a piece of dry spaghetti and letting them poke the spaghetti through the holes. This hands-on learning, using multiple senses, helps children build cognitive skills, according to the Michigan State University Extension. Cognitive skills allow us to solve problems and create new and different ideas from mundane ones.
Early childhood educators stress the importance of sensory play, which is the foundation of all the skills kids will need to learn once they get to school. It teaches keen observation skills, which give kids a lifelong advantage because these are the same skills they’ll need as adults.
Early childhood educators often use a sensory table for kids to play with objects that can help them learn about the physical world, teaching math skills, spatial awareness and pattern recognition, adds Michigan State. Some items can include containers and items of different sizes to challenges youngsters to find the right object to fit in the right container.