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Sensory Play - What is it, and why is it so important?

Posted by Kids Express Team on April 16, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Helping our children to engage in sensory exploration is something most parents do all the time, often without even realizing it! Say, for example, it is bath time and your child is splashing the water with their hands or feet – this is a sensory activity using water! Or maybe your child has a blankie that they like to rub between their fingers or on their face. This is a sensory activity that your child might be using to self-soothe, or maybe they just like the way it feels!


At Kids Express, we really stress the importance of sensory play and sensory exploration for all of our students. Even before children lean to talk, they have been using their senses (sight, taste, hearing, smell, touch) to explore their environment for their entire lives! Children are hard wired to receive and utilize sensory material from day one. Even for kiddos who are preschool age, sensory exploration is their most familiar and most basic way to explore, process, and come to understand new information! This is why it is so important that we allow children to learn through play and experiences, rather than lecture. Children need to use their senses to be engaged and learn from meaningful experiences.


We tie sensory play into all of our lesson plans and link them to each weekly theme throughout the year! For example, when our theme was Eggs and Bunnies (Spring), our sensory tables were filled with colored grass for the kiddos to hide eggs and find them! During Gardening week, we fill our sensory tables with dirt, seeds, flowers, shovels and plastic insects like ants, grasshoppers, and ladybugs. This is a great way for children to experience what it is like to plant flowers, make anthills, and just have fun playing in the dirt! Sensory activities can also help to develop language, by asking children how substances feel. You will get a variety of responses, such as ‘this feels mushy, squishy and wet!’


For toddlers and preschoolers, sensory play is the best and most basic way for children to explore their environments. Children at this age learn through meaningful experiences and it is important that we foster these experiences in a way that children can have fun and use all of their senses at the same time!


For some cool sensory ideas for you to do with your child at home, check out our Pinterest page!




Author: Megan DiNovo, Achievements and Kids Express



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