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Sensory play – The perfect way to get closer to your child

Sensory play is a type of play that activates and stimulates many of a child’s senses including sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste as well as play that involves movement and balance. More often, sensory play focuses on stimulating touch, sight, and hearing as those tend to be the most accessible senses.

Parent and child sifting flour

Parent and child sifting flour

Sensory play has many benefits for children of all ages.  It’s never too early or too late to give it a try.  It’s not only fun but it can also help build nerve connections in the brain, encourage both fine and gross motor development, improve attention span, support the development of language and communication and encourage scientific thinking and problem-solving.  Sensory play also often involves many elements of mindfulness, which has its own host of benefits to our emotional and physical wellbeing.

Anyone can get involved and there is no right or wrong way to engage in sensory play so it’s a great way for any child to enjoy a sense of achievement and the perfect opportunity for them to take the lead in play.  A top tip is to not expect your child to play or react in a certain way and to let them take the lead with this and experience things at their own pace.  Over time, it can be a great way to widen your child’s comfort zone, and cope better with unexpected and new experiences.

  • Finger painting, splashing in the bath, playing with bubbles and even jumping and scattering piles of leaves on a trip to the park are all examples of sensory play
  • Don’t think sensory play is only for very young children.  It can be the perfect way to replace missed sensory experiences in early years. It’s also a great way to build relationships with children and young people by making sensory play something the whole family gets involved with
  • Don’t forget, it isn’t just good for the little ones. Sensory play create pathways for brain development that continues into adulthood
  • There are lots of excellent suggestions for sensory play on Pinterest, many of which only need a few simple household ingredients.  Remember – It doesn’t need to be complicated to be fun or effective
Here’s some DIY sensory play ideas to get you started…

DIY play dough – The sensory play comes from the making of the play dough, as well as in playing with the end product.

Ingredients –

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (vegetable or coconut or baby oil)
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar (optional)
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • A few drops of Food colouring (Optional)
  • Lavender Oil, Orange Oil or Mint Flavouring (All naturally relaxing fragrances)

Directions

  1. Place all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Slowly add in the cup of hot water.  If you want to make coloured playdough, it is best to add food colouring to the water before mixing it into the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir until all the water is absorbed.
  5. Allow it to sit for two minutes before kneading.
  6. If the playdough is sticky, carefully knead in additional flour, or if the mixture is dry, slowly add more oil and water.
  7. Allow the playdough to cool completely before giving it to kids to play with.

Gloop – Another easy sensory activity to try…

Ingredients

  • 2 parts cornflour
  • 1 part water (don’t worry about being exact)
  • A tray or large bowl (Tuff Trays are popular with sensory play enthusiasts)
  • Optional – food colouring or glitter

Directions

  1. It’s simple, just mix the ingredients together
  2. Don’t worry about being exact, part of the fun can be in adding the water and cornflour and watching how the mixture changes.

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