If you have purchased one of our Educational Products than you may have noticed that one of the learning experiences on the accompanying activity card is to practice letter/numeral writing or spelling familiar words in ‘any sensory way of choice.’ So, what does that even mean and where do you even start?
What is sensory play?
Sensory play is anything that stimulates your child’s 5 senses – touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste. It can be anywhere from your child smelling the herbs in the garden, to watching the shadows and the light or feeling the different textures of objects such as the softness of the flower petals compared to the rough, tree bark.
The 5 senses play an integral part in children’s brain development and are stimulated and strengthened through everyday interactions and experiences both inside and outside the home.
Why is it important for your child’s learning and development?
When children are using their senses to interact with and explore the world around them, they are also sparking their natural curiosity and wonder for learning and new experiences.
Your little loves are developing and expanding their language skills and vocabulary as they describe what they are smelling, touching, tasting, hearing and seeing.
They are building their cognitive development as they problem solve, think creatively, ask questions and experiment with the different uses of objects such as how a paintbrush can glide, swirl and dab.
As they paint, knead, mould and squish they are discovering colours, textures and patterns. They are literally discovering the world around them, piece by piece.
They are building and strengthening their fine motor skills as they pinch, cut, press and roll their play dough, slime, water, sand and clay.
And of course, they are nurturing their emotional development as they play, explore, interact and share in an environment that is not only fun, joyful and intriguing but one that allows them to feel confident enough to interact and share their creativity and new found learnings with their friends and loved ones.
How to incorporate sensory play into your little loves academic learning?
So at this point you may be thinking ‘well that sounds all well and good for my baby and toddler, but how does it work for my child at school learning letters, numbers, spelling and all the rest of it?’
We have listed some activities below that allow your older children to practice writing letters, numbers, High Frequency words, spelling words and all the rest of it with a focus on touch and smell for practicality. I used these activities over and over again in the classroom with kids aged from 4-8years and they were ALWAYS a hit.
Use the play dough or clay to mould, roll, stamp or press into letters, numbers and words.
Have your child help you to make the play dough for added fun and engagement. They can choose the colours and perhaps even add a few drops of their favourite essential oil. OR have a look at our Scented Play Dough for a quick, easy fix!
So simple yet so effective! Use water colours, paints on an easel or finger painting to practice forming letters and numbers or to spell tricky words. You can also add in colour recognition for your younger babes or colour mixing for your older ones.
Display the finished artwork somewhere visible so that it can be referred back to.
Grab some old paintbrushes out of the garage and fill some buckets with water and ‘ta da!’ a simple, mess free activity that will engage your little loves for hours. Concrete is great for water painting as the water stays clearly visible but perhaps add some science into it and hypothesise and test different surfaces and textures.
Add some colour or essential oils to your water for an added sensory experience.
If you are like me, you perhaps shuddered at reading the word ‘glitter’ but trust me, it is loads of fun! Similar to the sand trays above, fill a tray or tub with glitter and use paintbrushes or sticks to practice forming letters and numbers and spelling words.
Simply fill a tray (an oven tray will work!) with a sand and your little babes can use their fingers, sticks, stones, paintbrushes etc to practice forming letters and numbers or to spell their High Frequency or spelling words.
Also, how gorgeous are these double sided alphabet tiles!? They make learning so much fun!
Please help us in spreading awareness about making learning FUN and advocating for your child’s learning and development by liking and sharing this blog post using the social links at the top or bottom of the page if you found it insightful or inspiring in any way!
We have a special discount code for our valued blog readers for our play dough and stampers as they encourage all things sensory play at home! Thanks SO much for reading and don’t forget to use the code ‘SENSORYBLOG10’ for 10% off.
Our products bring the joy back into learning and allow for you at home to continue to nurture what comes naturally to our special little people so they can flourish. Enjoy getting messy this week!