Some posts on this blog contain affiliate links. If you click them, I earn a small commission. It does not cost you anything extra, but this commission helps support the work of running this site. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own.
As we navigate the exciting world of parenthood, we’re always on the lookout for fun, engaging, and beneficial activities for our little ones. Today, we’re going to delve into the world of sensory play and sensory toys, plus uncover four compelling reasons why it’s a must-try. But that’s not all! We’ll also guide you through creating your very own DIY sensory bag, a simple and effective tool for sensory play. So, whether you’re a seasoned sensory play enthusiast or a curious newcomer, join us as we explore this fascinating aspect of early childhood development. Let’s dive in and discover the magic of sensory play together!
Sensory Play is Important for Babies and Toddlers
Sensory play is an important part of learning for babies and toddlers. Amanda Morgan, of www.notjustcute.com, explains in her article that kids learn more through experience and play rather than being taught.
As soon as a baby is born (and data shows that even in utero), they are learning from their environments. Sensory play is a fun a easy way for kids to learn and discover about shapes, textures, sounds, smells and tastes. As babies develop, they are using their senses to explore. That is why everything goes in their mouths (besides when they are teething). They are trying to discover and learn about different textures and taste.
4 Reasons for Sensory Play for Babies and Toddlers
1) Using sensory play encourages language skill development. New experiences require new words and phrases to be learned. Children are motivated through play to learn and develop new skills. Learning through the senses helps children develop classifying and categorization skills.
2) Learning through sensory play encourages brain development. Research has shown that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks. Sensory play encourages problem solving skills.
3) Sensory play is also good for fine motor skill development. When you give more opportunities for children to use their hands, they will fine tune the skills needed to manipulate smaller objects.
4) Sensory Play is a great social activity. Children learn about sharing and playing with others through play environments. Using sensory play is a great way to get kids involved with each other and sharing. Children can share what they are learning about the objects with each other “This rock is cold and hard.” “The bubbles are sticky.”
Watch How We Made our Home More Sensory Friendly
As we strive to create a nurturing environment for our little ones, making our homes sensory-friendly can play a significant role. Here are some simple yet effective ways to do just that.
Start by incorporating a variety of textures in your home decor – think fluffy rugs, smooth wooden furniture, and soft cushions. This not only makes your home visually appealing but also provides a wealth of tactile experiences for your child.
Consider creating a dedicated sensory space, equipped with items like a bean bag, a small tent, or a swing. This can serve as a safe retreat for your child when they need to calm down or focus. Use natural light as much as possible and opt for dimmable lights to avoid harsh lighting.
When it comes to noise, try to maintain a balance. While some children might enjoy background music, others might prefer a quieter environment. Lastly, don’t forget about the power of scent. Essential oils or scented candles can create a calming atmosphere. Remember, every child is unique, so observe your child’s reactions and adjust your home environment accordingly.
Sensory toys are easy to make!
As we continue our journey into the world of sensory play, let’s debunk a common myth – sensory activities and toys are difficult to set up. The truth is, they can be incredibly easy to make, often with materials you already have at home.
From a simple bowl of water with floating toys to a homemade sensory bin filled with rice and small objects, the possibilities are endless. You can create a tactile experience with a tray of shaving cream or a touch-and-feel box with various textured items. For a visual treat, try a DIY lava lamp with oil, water, and food coloring.
Even everyday activities like cooking or gardening can become sensory experiences. The key is to engage your child’s senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. So, don’t let the fear of complexity hold you back. Dive into the world of sensory play and watch your child explore, learn, and have fun.
Here is Sensory Water Table Play
Watch to see our easy toddler sensory bins:
For Bins, you can fill a bin with beans, rice, sand, or water. Next, place different objects in the bin for your child to play and discover. I saw one sensory bin full of feathers! That looked like a lot of fun too.
Watch how to make a sensory bottle:
When you are playing with sensory bins or bags, help your child discover by asking:
What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? if appropriate, What do you taste? (Not always appropriate, haha)
How to make a Sensory Water Bag:
I wanted to create a sensory bag that would appeal to both my 3 year old and my 9 month old.
My 3 year old is learning about Letters and Numbers right now. She likes playing games finding letters, discovering sounds and learning new words.
My 9 month old is very tactile. She wants to touch and feel everything.
To make a sensory water bag you need:
- 2 ziplock bags
- some tape to seal bags (I used clear packing tape)
- foam letters
- I filled one ziplock bag 1/3-1/2 full of water. I like the look of bubbles in water, so I added a little soap (about one pump of my hand soap).
- I added 3 different colors of glitter. (blue, red, and gold). About a pinch of each. You can add how much you like.
- Place foam letters in bag.
- Close bag (try to get all the air out as possible) and seal with tape.
- Place bag in another bag to be safe ; ) (Again, try to get all the air out as possible)
With my 3 year old, we played find the letter. We were able to talk about different words that started with the different letters in the bag.
With my 9 month old, I let her hit the bag and grab it. She had a lot of fun exploring with the water.
Sensory Toy Gift Ideas
If your kids are anything like mine, they absolutely love sensory toys and fidgets. Half of my daughter’s Christmas list was sensory toys and fidgets, haha! I’m going to share a quick list of our favorite sensory toy gift ideas for you sensory seeking kiddos:
Sensory Toy Gift Idea List:
Large Pop Tubes – Pop tubes are very popular sensory and fidget toys. They make a really fun sound as you pull them apart.
Sensory Fidget Tubes, Calming Toys for Kids – These are calming tubes that kids can watch settle and shake up again.
Pop Fidget Toys – Its Ball Toy – My daughter especially loves pop it type fidgets. This one is a pop it ball, so it is fun to hold and pop in your hands.
Light Up Magic Ball Toy Wand – My son loves light up toys and this wand is really fun to watch as the colors change.
Liquid Motion Bubbler for Sensory Play – I had several of these as a kid myself, so I love that my kids play with theirs now. They are very relaxing to watch the liquid drop.
3D Pin Art Sensory Toy Rainbow Needles – This is another really fun toy to hold in your hands. It makes an impression of what it touches.
Pop Fidget Toys Handheld Game – My daughter loves playing this pop up game and my son loves watching her play, haha!
Fidget Slug Toy, Sensory Slug Fidget Toy for Kids & Adults – These are fun for everyone. They are super cute and make an interesting sound as you move them.
2 Pack Rainmaker Rain Stick Musical Instrument for Babies, Toddlers and Kids – I love the calming sound that rainmakers make. My son loves to watch the little beads fall when you turn it upside down.