Go Ahead…as Nike would say, “Just Do It!” It Feeds the Brain, Nourishes the Soul, and Creates Amazing Memories!
There are MANY blogs about Sensory Play for children…just Google it and there is everything you need to know about play involving all of the senses! (beginning with infants)! There are articles on the value to every child as well as thousands of ideas on creative ways to create sensory activities for various ages.
What makes my blog unique? I am addressing the barriers to sensory play. I am going to “tear down” all those myths and excuses that parents and educators use to “stall” engaging in these critical experiences that we have properly labeled “sensory activities” or “sensory play”.
Here are the top 5 common excuses:
1. I will do it tomorrow
2. It is too messy
3. I do not have time to get everything out
4. My child doesn’t know how to “do it” correctly
5. I (the adult) am too tired or I don’t know how to plan the activity correctly
While I understand “all of the above” let me assure you that ALL of these are inexcusable. As a significant adult in your child’s life, finding ways to explore the world together with the child in your care is a privilege, and I want to INSPIRE you to overcome the excuses and find ways to “Just Do It” everyday.
Children will naturally engage their senses if we overcome our first instinct to say no. They will touch it, smell it, taste it…without reservation. There are so many things that you can do each day to encourage your child to explore the world around him and engage the senses. It just takes being aware and making a commitment to purposeful sensory engagement every day.
Here are some great ways to include sensory play throughout your child’s day:
1. If you are walking by a place of business and you smell food cooking; pause and engage your child in “guessing the smell”. Stop and smell. Pause to engage the sense of smell and talk about what you smell and even perhaps what you smell may taste like when you eat it.
2. If you are walking and you cannot remove your shoes to feel the grass; pause to let you child stop and touch the grass, the tree, or the flower. It will only take a minute. Let him explore the textures as you walk along the sidewalk. Even if she drags her hand along the brick wall, ask her what it feels like and then when you find a place to wash her hands, ask her what the brick felt like compared to how the water feels…that is purposefully engaging your senses.
3. Listen to the sounds of traffic when you are driving. Who can hear a horn first? Or play a nature CD in the car and see who can identify the sounds you hear on the CD. That’s sensory play in the car.
4. Remember the game of I spy? That is sensory play.
5. Describe the red truck as it goes by to your toddler. That is engaging your toddler’s sense of sight.
6. When you are putting ice in the glasses for dinner, put a couple in a zip-lock bag and let her play with the baggie in her high chair while you are finishing up the table while you describe how the cold bag feels in her hand. That is sensory play.
My point is that is can be simple, fun, a part of your everyday life.
Yes, there are certainly times to get out the sand box, the water table, the paint easel and all of those gooey, fun, and exciting things but it is MOST important that you “JUST DO IT”. Relax; just think of fun and creative ways to say YES to the MESS.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Center