The Importance of Sensory Play
Posted on January 21 2020
One of the most effective ways in which children learn is through arts and crafts. Whether it be forming figures out of clay, assembling shapes or blocks, or rummaging their hands through a craft bin of sparkling sequins, children are experiencing far more than a fun-filled day of crafting. They are participating in what is called sensory play.
Sensory play is when a child engages with crafts that involve one or more of the five senses. Integrating sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing in their crafting and play routines causes children to process an understanding of those senses and their effect on their lives. Experiencing the senses through a creative outlet helps children begin to develop and understand concepts such as memory, problem-solving, and decision making. This specific development is known as cognitive development. Cognitive development and creative confidence flourish with sensory play!
Encouraging creativity may be the core motive behind involving children in craft activities, but the effect of the arts runs much deeper. Arts and crafts play a large role in children’s sensory development. The role arts and crafts hold with sensory development and its impact on a child’s overall development is a unique one. Artistic activities open the brain’s reward pathways, meaning, anytime a child creates art or makes a craft, they are regulating thoughts, feelings, and actions through awakening that part of their brains.
Sensory play goes far beyond what a child experiences at the time of interaction. It supports cognitive and language development as well as fine and gross motor skills. With that brain development comes the ability to problem solve and complete tasks. Sensory engagement helps children retain information and memories that are connected to that sense. Although we may not realize it, we use our senses to interpret and process information.
Beyond technical standpoints, sensory play is stimulating to children and increases creativity. It teaches children sensory attributes such as texture, sound, flavor, appearance, or aroma, and allows children to process problem-solving skills and social interaction. For many children, participating in sensory play can also be calming as the sensory engagement can organize neural pathways that help a child focus or calm themselves.
Comprehending what is classified as sensory play is all about engagement. Though having your child play an electronic game or color in a coloring book may be fun and educational, they are not exploring and engaging their surroundings. When looking into how to incorporate sensory play into your child’s routine, look for activities that are engaging the sensory attributes mentioned above. Look for activities that introduce your child to new textures, shapes, smells, sounds, or even tastes. A lack of sensory play as a child can lead to trouble processing their surroundings and senses when they get older, possibly resulting in a short attention span, anxiety, poor coordination, or trouble comprehending and learning.
Creativity for Kids develops crafts for kids that are specifically designed to focus on developing a child’s sensory development and creative expression. Some of those crafts include:
Sequin Pets: These weighted plush animals include flip sequins and repositionable stickers for a soothing, calming, tactile play experience.
Make Your Own Sock Puppets: Super soft sock puppets transform into three fuzzy friends. Puppetry is a great child-appropriate way to express feelings and emotions. Talking through puppets helps improve communication skills and promotes language development.
Create with Clay Craft Kits: Moldable, soft clay helps develop fine motor skills. Interacting with the completed models promotes imaginative play and language development.
Fun Felt Shapes: Layering felt shapes onto a child-sized felt board, is a calming, quiet, stress-free activity that children can do independently. The educational benefits include color, shape and pattern recognition along with imaginative play and pretend. Felt shapes can be arranged in endless combinations.
Water Globe Craft Kits: Working with moldable, soft clay develops fine motor skills and provides a calming craft experience
Rainbow Sandland: Creating layered sand designs and patterns provides a visually engaging sensory experience. Decorating with stickers and the unicorn figure helps develop fine motor skills and encourages imaginative, creative play.