Sensory Play Ideas for Your Child’s Development

Sensory Play Ideas for Your Child’s Development

Every time a parent engages their child’s sensory system, the opportunity creates the neural connections of the young ones / Photo by Zlikovec via Shutterstock


Any activity that stimulates the children's five senses—touch, sight, taste, smell, and sound—is called sensory play. It likewise incorporates balance and movement. Cognitive growth, calming the frustrated or anxious children, development of gross and fine motor skills, teaches sensory attributes to kids, and enhances memory are some of the many benefits that sensory play brings to children, and these are some of the reasons why it matters to kids’ development.


Finding the sensory play that fits your child’s temperament or needs

Take note, however, that every kid will have a different response to various sensory activities. This is why it is worth to consider different sensory play ideas to find one that best suits your child’s temperament or needs. Childhood temperament is how they react or approach the world. There are three general categories of temperament types. It could be feisty or active, flexible or easy, or cautious or slow to warm. To find the best sensory play that fits your child’s temperament, it is best to learn first these three traits.

According to The National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation (CEMHC), a feisty or active temperament style is when kids may be irregular or fussy in sleeping and feeding habits. They are fearful of new situations and people and are easily upset by stimulation or noise, as well as intense when it comes to their reactions. On the other hand, flexible or easy kids tend to be regular in their eating and sleeping habits, happy, cannot get easily upset, calm, and adaptable. Lastly, the cautious or slow to warm temperament children may tend to react negatively or withdraw from new situations but may overcome them in due time after repeated exposure to said situation, object, or person.


Sensory play: the foundation of higher-level learning

Pediatric therapy Kiddo Active Therapy’s owner and occupational therapist Stephanie Swinburne said via Today’s Parent that sensory play is actually the “foundation for all higher-level learning.” This means that every time a parent engages their child’s sensory system, the opportunity creates the neural connections of the young ones. This is why the play is significant to their development. Below are some crafts parents can do with their kids to help fine-tune their motor and sensory skills.

1. Sand game - What better way to spend a sunny summer day than playing in the sand while listening to the ocean waves. This sensory play helps develop the child’s fine motor skills, said physical therapy doctor Erynn Weston. The game likewise reduces what we call the tactile defensiveness, which is a sensory issue that is sometimes referred to as touch sensitivity. It happens when they cannot handle some sensations, like getting dirty. By playing in the sand, kids reduce touch sensitivity and hone their skills or sand building, tracing, and grabbing. Children’s National Health System Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s Chief Justin Burton, M.D. likewise mentioned that building a sand castle and digging in the sand will improve kids’ endurance and strength. It adds a different dimension of language and social development if they play sand games in groups too. 

Sand game reduces what we call the tactile defensiveness, which is a sensory issue sometimes referred to as touch sensitivity / Photo by Elizaveta Galitckaia via Shutterstock


2.  Painting or drawing while blindfolded - This sensory game requires the child's eyes to be closed and they can do this activity outdoors. Since they cannot see, it will force them to use their other senses. Furthermore, a part of their nervous system connecting to their joint, touch, and muscle sensations will help tell them what their hands are currently doing.

3. Rainbow sorting game - In this game, kids will be using letter magnets in different colors. They have to line these letters accordingly to create a rainbow. Prior to lining up the colorful magnets, make sure that there is a rainbow guideline for kids to follow. The process of the game helps the child to learn complex tasks to line up the magnets where they should be.

4. The aromatics quiz - It is a sensory game that requires the kid to name the scent or smell. For example, you can create playdough with extracts that will appeal to your kid’s sense of smell. It could be extracts of peppermint, almond, or vanilla. See if your child can identify the smell and ask them which dessert or candies they are reminded of such scent.

5. Basic tastes game - Young kids are required to identify the basic tastes, including bitter, salty, sour, and sweet in this sensory game. Prepare different small containers and put one food item per container. It could be a spoonful of sugar, a mint candy, a lemon wedge, grapefruit rind, a pickle, plain yogurt, a spoonful of salt, chocolate, or honey. Place all these food containers in the table and begin with the experimental procedure. It is best if kids are blindfolded in this game, as well, so it forces them to use only their sense of taste.