Sensory Play: Why is it Important for Child Development

Starting at birth, babies constantly engage their senses to discover the world around them. As parents and caretakers it is our job to encourage and challenge their senses to promote growth in every area. Sensory play is an incredible tool for early childhood development.

What is Sensory Play

Sensory play is any activity that stimulates the senses. It is a misconception that it only engages a child’s 5 senses. Sensory play actually goes deeper then that and can engage movement, balance and sense of self.

Starting at birth babies constantly engage their senses to discover the world around them. Sensory play is an incredible tool for early childhood development. Enjoy these amazing sensory geared activities! #sensoryplay #toddleractivities #sensoryactivities

Why is Sensory Play Important?

While playing with sensory materials the brain is building pathways that will lead to a child’s understanding of more complex tasks and actions. With these connections the brain is also developing and enhancing memory. Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction. It also teaches a child about the world around them through sensory attributes. Water is wet. Sandpaper is rough. Slime is sticky. Lastly, it provides an outlet for feelings of anxiety and frustration. Through sensory play a child becomes more calm, focused and relaxed.

Sensory Activities

Messy Meal Time by The Healthy(ish) Home “Food comes in amazing shapes, sizes and textures”

Rain Play by The Healthy(ish) Home “All of a child’s senses are active when playing in the rain”

Salt Dough Ornaments by The Healthy(ish) Home “Extremely easy to make, smells good and a great sensory activity”

Moon Sand by Tribobot “Sand play is open-ended and the child leads the path of his own play”

Artificial Snow by Kickin’ it with Kim “Great way to bring the snow indoors”

Fall Slime by Mam of the Drama “Sensory seeker? A slime enthusiast? Or do you have a curious toddler on your hands?”

Edible Paint by Mama Bear Britt “It’s a great way to expose them to creative thinking and expression “

Spring Sensory Basket by Kinga’s Corner “Touch and feel different materials, textures, see different colors, learn about shapes”

Corn Starch and Water by Living on Grace “Is it a solid? Is it a liquid? Its impossible to know!”

Ice Sensory Play by Speak. Play. Love.”Work on pouring, squirting and trying to grab slippery ice cubes”

Peanut Butter Play Dough by Chicka Chicka Mama “Explore the smell, texture, and taste of peanut butter”

Sensory Play Date By Life with the Baker Fire “How to throw a fun sensory play date for your kids and their little friends”

Helpful Sensory Play Tools

Sensory Boards: A sensory board is a board filled with tactile and visual objects to be explored by early childhood level children. They encourage stimulation of the senses and exploration through sensory play. 

Sensory Bin/Table: A sensory bin is usually a plastic tub or container filled with materials and objects carefully selected to stimulate the senses. A sensory bin can be filled with so many different materials such as shredded paper, water beads, water, sand, and more.

What are your favorite sensory activities?

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27 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love the variation of sensory play that are presented here. Sensory play has so many benefits. It may be messy at times but I think its worth it given the exposure and fun they get after. Thank you for the post. It really is worth reading to parents and guardians. Keep doing well!

  2. We love sensory play! As much as it is important for the kiddos development it also is so helpful for patents to connect with their kiddos while playing and doing something out of the ordinary. Such fun!

    ~Emily from So Sunny Day

    1. So true! Those one on one activities are so good for building healthy relationships between children and their parents.

  3. Yes! Thank you for sharing! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป I was just thinking about looking this up today since itโ€™s snowing and my toddler had a ball touching and playing with the snow. I canโ€™t wait to try some of these ideas with her!

  4. I work in administration for a day care and sensory play is SO crucial for our kiddos. I’ll be passing a few of these ideas along to our teachers! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!

  5. This is great. We homeschool & my toddler especially LOVES her sensory bin! We switch it up often, & she spends hours playing & scooping & filling & emptying.

  6. My child has recently discovered mud because we’ve had so much rain. I’m torn between thinking “well, it’s good for him” and dreading all the laundry that will happen!

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