Sensory play is a huge part of my parenting and I encourage Bear to do as much of it as possible. Sensory play encourages babies and children to explore and discover the world around them, by helping them discover sounds, tastes and textures. Sensory play allows children the freedom to be creative, which encourages self-expression and builds self-esteem.
Sensory play doesn’t necessarily have to be an individual activity, but can be a group activity too. Sensory play as a group activity can be a fundamental part of learning and developing social skills, especially for younger children who haven’t learnt or developed language skills yet.
Messy play is a great way of exploring textures and is a relatively cheap activity. We bought a mortar mixing tray from amazon and put different foods in it for Bear to crawl around in. We have used jelly, pasta, flour, rice, fruit and rice crispies, but the options are endless. Messy play can also be used a great way to encourage your baby to taste foods. In our household we use a mixture of the traditional purée weaning as well as baby led weaning. We found that Bear loved exploring new foods via messy play and has been an integral part of our weaning journey.
Homemade rattles and shakers
Rattles and shakers are a great way for babies and children to discover different sounds. I made a selection of different homemade rattles and shakers using different materials, so they made different noises. Rattles and shakers are a great way for babies to express themselves and are really cheap to make. The glitter bottles reflect light in different directions. Bear loves to roll and shake the bottles around to make the glitter move about in the bottles.
» I took empty water bottles and filled them of different levels with a range of materials.
» I used buttons, sequins and broken spaghetti.
» I then filled two bottles to the top with water and then added glitter (a different colour to each).
» Finally I put superglue around the rim of the lid and fasted the lid back onto the bottle.
I put together a treasury basket so Bear can discover the shapes and textures of everyday objects. Treasury baskets are a great way for babies to learn about the world around them. When you take day trips out, you can collect various different things for the treasury basket and add to it over time. When choosing items for the treasury basket, be careful and make sure nothing is too small for your baby or child to choke one, or too dangerous that it may cause harm to you child.
In Bear’s treasury basket there is;
» A teaspoon
» A mini whisk,
» A washing up sponge,
» A twig,
» Wooden pegs,
» A pinecone,
The items in the treasury basket can be used for play as well as discovery. We spends ages playing peek – a – boo with the netting and tickling Bear with the feathers.
One of our favourite games is catching bubbles. Catching bubbles is a great way to develop lots of skills.
» Following the bubbles, babies and children can develop their visual tracking skills.
» Catching the bubbles is a great way of developing hand eye coordination.
» It can be a great social activity and can enhance social skills as babies and children partake in an activity together. It is also a great way to teach them how to take turns when playing.
Peek – a – boo
Peek – a – boo is a great game for babies as it helps develop the understanding that things exist, even when you can’t see them and is also a great way of aiding the development of social interaction. I sit about 6 inches away from Bear and hold a large muslin square between us, Bear then pulls it down so he can see me.
Pots and pans
Playing with pots and pans can be a rather loud activity. Bear loves making lots of noise and spends a lot of time hitting the pans with various different objects and smashing the lids together. However, this noisy activity is a great way to encourage creativity and is also a great way to learn about household objects.
Bear’s sensory box kept him amused for hours when he was younger. I made it colourful and added lots of different textures to it. I also stuck shapes on one sides and created a peek – a – boo window on the side. This meant there were many different elements to it and was great for before Bear was on the move.
» I took a large cardboard box and cut the top off so it created an open space.
» I then stuck different coloured card on one inner side of the box, then labelled each colour.
» I then pierced holes on the top side of the box and threaded different coloured and lengths of ribbon through the holes.
» I cut out different shapes such as a triangle, circle, square and car and glued them to another side of the box and labelled them.
» I used various different fabric remnants and glued them along the bottom side of the box. This was so Bear could reach and touch them before he could move about by himself.
» I then cut a window along the remaining side, by cutting out three sides to a rectangle. This was so the window could open and close. Bear would sit on one side and I would sit on the other, I would then close the window so Bear couldn’t see me and Bear would push it open again.
**Please note that supervision is always required when doing sensory activities with you child.