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The Whats and the Whys of Sensory Play

We keep hearing how important sensory play really is - you may do more of it than you realise too, but with a little extra knowledge and understanding experiences can be enhanced, extended and appreciated.

I will begin this blog by explaining a bit more about it:

What Is Sensory Play?
Sensory play in a nut shell is play which stimulates one or more of our senses.
There are 5 senses in total -
* Hearing * Sight * Taste * Touch * Smell

Why is Sensory Play so valuable?
What I love so much about sensory play is that opportunities can be provided and every single child/adult can succeed. There is no right or wrong way to do things, individuals can be left to explore, experiment, create and learn at their own pace and there isn't a planned or expected outcome.

It allows children/adults to work alongside one another - sharing, imitating, relationship building. Its fun, calming, therapeutic even. It encourages social interaction, imagination, creativity, language development, cognitive growth. There are opportunities for problem solving, decision making and can boost confidence and self esteem.

What age can we start taking part in sensory play?
Sensory play is great for children and adults of all ages.
Before babies are even born they are learning about their environment via their senses and of course this continues after they are born. They begin to learn about their new world around them by what they see, hear, touch, taste and smell.

Some materials used during sensory play may not be suitable for all ages however so it's important to take that into consideration when planning and preparing.
Make sure items are age appropriate, safe and supervised as and when required.
Also check for any allergies. Ensure that the task you are providing is suitable for the individual which leads me on to my next Q+A....

Is Sensory Play for everybody?
Some individuals will enjoy sensory experiences a lot more than others. Some people will gravitate towards them at every opportunity they get and love nothing more than getting 'stuck in'. This will not be the case for everybody although opportunities can be adapted to be more suited to them.

It's paramount that sensory play is not forced upon anyone!

Some Great Medias For Sensory Play
Rice  - dye it, add scents and glitter to it               
Water  - dye it, freeze it, add bubbles, toys, containers
Glitter  - can be added to almost anything and glistens lovely                   
Water Beads  - mash them, colour sort them, feel and freeze them 
Lentils  - mix, pour             
Pasta  - sort, mix, cook, dye it add scents to it                        
Sand - add water, draw with it, filter through toys, build               
Ice - feel, make an artic scene, make ice blocks hiding sensory items                 
Shaving Foam  - add glitter, colour it, fantastic for mark making         
Mirrors - funny mirrors, dance in them, dress up and look at yourself
Fabrics - ribbons, scarves, ties, silk, wool - list is endless          
Playdough - dyed, scented, add glitter/oats/beads etc              
Lights  - torches, bubble machines, projectors, disco lights/balls
Bubbles - hand held, push along bubble machines, touchable bubbles, water play
Scents - The lists of scents you can use is endless                     
Sweet Wrappers - great to collect over Christmas - sparkly, crunchy, see-through
Painting - edible paints, indoor/outdoor, finger painting, colour mixing etc       
Nature - sticks, conkers, pine cones, grass, flowers, leaves                      
Pipe Cleaners - colourful, sorting, bending, making, big long short, small
Ribbons - feel, explore, long, short, sparkly, smooth, rough, stiff
Shells - bumpy, smooth, big, small, rough
Twigs - rough, bumpy, 

Some Useful Apparatus For Sensory Play
Plastic Bottles      
Paint Combs        

So there we have it Sensory Play explained - The What's and the Why's touched upon.
If you have anything you would like to add please get in touch! I would love to hear from you!

Why not check out some of our sensory play ideas featured in the right hand side column.

(The five senses poster used on this blog post was featured on google and was created by Bev Evans who created fantastic resources for the SEN community. I love all her work!)

Learning Through Play
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  1. Thats brillient thankyou so much

  2. Thank you Rara, glad you have enjoyed reading this post x


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