Homeschooling     Home and Family     Healthy Kids     Early Education     K-12     After School    

Tickle Their Senses. Play dough, slime and more!



Simple sensory play activities for your kids

Simple sensory play activities for your kids


Children instinctively gravitate toward sensory play. Have you ever seen a child walk around a mud puddle? No. Kids automatically feel the need to explore that puddle, that sand, that layer of ice on top of the puddle. And there is a good reason for that desire to engage in sensory play; it’s one of the best ways kids learn.

Children enjoy using all five senses as they play. They focus their sight on everything around them. They listen to the sounds, enjoy touching objects and smelling them and when appropriate, tasting them. In addition to the five senses, children also learn body awareness and a sense of balance as they engage in hand-on activities.

As kids do simple sensory play activities, they gain cognitive skills, learn new language, learn social skills, problem solving skills and both fine and gross motor skills. Something as simple as playing in sand can help kids think about what sand is made of and where it came from, learn words such as smooth and rough, figure out ways to form the sand into shapes and problem solve that adding a bit of water aids in making that sand castle. Forming the sand into shapes builds motor skills and waiting for a turn with a certain tool aids in social awareness.

Sensory play is fun. It has a calming effect on children, especially those who are nervous or anxious. Simple sensory activities can engage children for much longer periods of time than an adult-led activity because they are both fun and satisfying. Be aware that while it looks like kids are “just playing,” in reality they’re building new neural pathways in the brain which sets the stage for deeper learning later on.

Here are some simple sensory activities, many of them using items you already have around the house.

  1. Play dough, slime, cloud dough and kinetic sand are all products that invite lots of squishing, shaping and creating. Cloud dough is made simply with two parts cornstarch to one part hair conditioner. Or, you can use eight parts flour to one part baby oil. Kids love to play with these dough products and will find new ways to play with them each and every time. Lots of kinetic satisfaction here.

  2. Musical activities: Kids love to move to the sounds of music. They like to play games such as musical chairs or freeze tag. They also love to create sounds to go along with music. Homemade or purchased rhythm instruments such as shakers, drums, maracas, and tambourines will keep kids busy for long periods of time. Simple scarves allow children to respond to music in dramatic ways and making up dance moves is another way to hear and respond to the rhythms of music.

  3. Listening Games: Take your kids on a sound walk or simply stop all activity indoors and listen for a period of time. Then ask your children to report on what they heard. Another way to play this game is to have a checklist and “search” for various sounds such as sirens, birdsong, shuffling of feet, etc. You can also play auditory processing games in which you give simple verbal directions and have the children follow them in order. Have children identify various animal sounds or random sounds such as the noise a zipper makes or tearing a piece of paper.

  4. Edible Sensory Play: Tasting fun can sometimes be the goal such as tasting a variety of melons and identifying them. Or, the fun can be in using items that if tasted are safe for children. Some edible ideas for sensory fun are playing with rainbow Jell-o, making cereal necklaces, finger painting with cool-whip, yogurt or instant pudding, or playing in cooked pasta. 

  5. Painting, drawing and coloring with various art supplies are always great ways for children to express themselves and explore new learning. Keep a variety of pencils, markers, paints and coloring tools on hand. Bring out new ones periodically to keep the activities fresh and interesting. Invite your child to share their thoughts about their drawings or paintings or ask them to tell you a story about them.

  6. Sensory tubs can be filled with a wide variety of substances including sand, rice, cornmeal, oatmeal, dry beans, cooked spaghetti, seeds, water, tapioca or ice cubes. Kids love to sift, scoop, pour, sort, hunt for and organize objects found in the tubs. You might try small sea creatures in sand, pieces of sponge in water, or small animal and people figures in rice. Yes, these activities are sometimes messy, but they offer tons of sensory play experience.

By now you probably have thought of several sensory activities you can do with your kids without even leaving home. For more ideas and information on sensory play go to:

www.creativeconnectionsforkids.com

www.handsonaswegrow.com

www.learning4kids.net


More Homeschooling


  • Abby Girl's Favorite Homeschool Meetup Options

    Awesome Places for Homeschoolers to Meet

    There are so many cool opportunities for homeschoolers right in the Hudson Valley. Read Abby Girl's top recommendations for social interaction! read more »
  • Safety Tips for Online Learning

    New learning environment, new guidelines

    Security expert offers helpful tips on how to be mindful of potential safety threats in the new environment of online learning. read more »
  • Distance learning blues…and laughs

    A mom shares her story of raising 4 kids during this trying time

    Writer mom Anne Fitzgerald shares how pandemic family life brings chaos, laughter, and perspective read more »
  • Helping preschoolers’ development during Covid-19

    How parents can help children meet milestones

    Preschoolers in particular need social interaction to develop socially and emotionally. The article from Insider.com suggests how to help compensate for those losses in Covid-19 times. read more »
  • In pod we trust

    Tips for forming your “winter pod” of friends and family

    With coronavirus numbers spiking, and winter coming, family and friend groups are developing protocols like Camp Quarantine for keeping safe while staying social. read more »
  • Ways to Adventure At Home

    From writing a note to traveling to space in a box!

    There are a million ways to adventure at home now without going anywhere. Whatever your child's passion is, there seems to be a virtual option now! read more »
  • With quarantining some learning experiences are taking a back seat

    5 benefits of hands-on learning in a tech-crazed world

    Being tied to phones, tablets, and computers takes away from hands-on learning time, which is unfortunate since these types of experiences provide so many critical benefits to children as they grow and develop. read more »
  • What to do if technology is affecting your kids’ sleep

    Studies show that the light emitted from electronics reduces deep sleep

    Are your children having trouble sleeping and then dragging the next day? It might be from all the time they spend on their electronics. There is no question that children and teens are spending more of their day using technology, especially with remote learning and spending more time at home without friends. read more »
  • STEAM classes for kids from Beacon Institute

    Explore a state park with STEAM and nature-based activities

    Clarkson University's Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries is now offering enrichment programs for Pre-K through 8th-grade homeschool groups at our Dennings Point Water Ecology Center. Each group will explore Dennings Point State Park through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and nature-based learning activities. read more »
  • Get physical while remote learning

    How do we teach kids to deal with the world in real time not on screens?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60 minutes of activity a day, but Dr. Cicely White, chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente in Spokane, WA, says that hour of time need not happen all at once. read more »