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Do Children Really Learn from Sensory Play?
The short answer to this question is Yes! YES! YES! The long answer is well... long so in the interest of time, sensory play gives children the opportunity to explore many concepts. Concepts include but are not limited to, texture, weight, gravity, colors, shape, size, speed and more. More importantly sensory play is a type of experiential learning that means children are learning through real life experiences which are the BEST way for a child to build new skills and understanding of concepts.
Beyond all of that amazingness ... Sensory play can so easily be connected to include other concepts and themes it can help a child learn nearly ANYTHING!
What is Sensory play?
Play that involves a variety of textures such as sand, corn, rice, water, paint, and so on. There are really no limits on where sensory play begins and ends!
Children gather experiences and develop loads of skills with this type of play!
Manipulating the various textures in a sensory bin can occupy children for hours and you'd be shocked to see how creative you can get with these types of play experiences. See below for a list of basic items you can easily fill a sensory table with.
MadMattr (this stuff is really amazing!)
Obleck (Cornstarch +Water)
Polyfil (pillow stuffing)
Once you have your material selected you can add themed or random little items into the a bin or sensory table, add your child's favorite play dinosaurs, cars, or figurines too. You can make a sensory bin themed for a season by hiding just about anything in there! Cups, spoons, and scoops are an essential addition as well! Check out this list of amazing sensory bin themes!
Click each link below for a suggested material for each theme!
Valentines (heart shaped anything)
Colors (Choose a color and place only those colored items in the bin)
Lemonade (slice lemons and float them in water for yummy lemon scented bin!)
Hide plastic eggs with surprises inside
Nature - Grass/Moss/Sticks
Cutting - Use varied textures of paper and add some kid safe scissors for a cutting experience
It all sounds messy but we promise it is worth it! Now for containing the mess!
While a dedicated table for sensory play is the ideal way to go there are more affordable options available if you are on a budget.
A wash basin works great as a sensory bin you can also use storage bins that are not currently being used!
A sensory table is a fantastic option and we LOVE all of these choices below.
If you are on a budget there are plenty of options available that you can find easily. A wash basin works great as a sensory bin you can also use storage bins, cookie trays or large oil drip pans.
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Suzy has been working in Early Childhood/Elementary Education for the last 12 years. She has worked both as a teacher and as a preschool administrator. She has taught Preschool, Kindergarten, First Grade and third Grade. Most recently, she has been working as an administrator of an Early Childhood Center in NYC. She has spent years studying the meaning of quality education and how to provide that for young children.