Sensory play ignites creativity, exploration, and investigation!
Sensory play had become a huge part of homeschooling my little explorers. When you’re homeschooling kiddos from itty bitty up to early elementary-age, play is one of the biggest ways they learn. Even as children grow, hands-on activities shouldn’t stop!
Below, I will share all my tips and tricks, plus some creative sensory play activities that have made for an exciting homeschooling experience!
Sensory Play “MUST-HAVE” Supplies/Materials & Ideas:
Depending on your organizational style and space, sensory play supplies can be kept in a number of storage solutions. My go-to are plastic bins (shoe size and smaller), ziplock bags, and medium-sized tubs to store supplies kept in baggies.
You can use just about anything (kid-friendly) for sensory play but here is a list of materials that I keep on hand (and my children love):
- Beans (brown, black, and white)
- Sea shells
- Different-size rocks
- Pipe cleaners
- Toy miniatures (animals)
♥ Recycled Household Supplies
- Coffee cans
- Plastic seasoning bottles
- Small plastic cups and bowls
- Plastic utensils
- Scoops and sifters
♥ Things You Can Find at the Dollar Store (Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, $5 Below, etc.)
- 6-pack of small plastic cups/bowls
- 4-pack small plastic salad-tongs
- 4-pack mini storage boxes (with different colored lids)
- Magnetic letters and numbers
- Styrofoam letters and numbers
- Paint brushes with designs
- Pack of small plastic animals
♥ Sensory Bin Ideas
- Cut straws
♥ Sensory Bottle Ideas
- Dirt (and coffee)
- Oil and Water
Use any of the above as a base and then add other materials.
For examples, watch this video.
♥ Activity Ideas
- Sea shell search
- Button search (and sort by color/shape)
- Rock digging
- Letter and number find (and put in ascending or descending order)
- Bead search
- Animal rescue
- Bean counting
♥ The “how-to”
Sensory play activities can take a variety of forms. The most common form in placing a base material (sand, water, beans, etc.) in a container and placing other objects in it (cut straws, sea shells, buttons, etc.). Typically children will explore with their hands, but you can peak their exploration by providing other utensils such as spoons, sifters, small cups, scoopers, etc.
One of the best ways is to allow children to self-explore. Put a few things on a table and watch what they do with it. Often times it may surprise you to see how they figure things out or use something totally opposite of what its originally intended for. Believe it or not, your child is learning through the entire process.
Sometimes you may want to assist your child. If they get upset by this, don’t worry! Simply step back and let them have at it. In the event they are trying to communicate that they need help, that would be a good time to help heighten their communication and teach them how to ask for (and accept) help.
Perks of Sensory Play
Sensory play is something that fits any and every learning style, homeschool style, and teaching style. If you are the type who doesn’t like a lot of mess, simply stick with sensory objects that require little to no cleanup. If you’re all about letting your kiddos make a mess, then have at it with the sand and water play!
Sensory play and activities naturally encourage children to explore, be creative, and explore. This is all part of the natural scientific process that we are all built with.
Sensory play taps into visual and kinesthetic learning. These styles relate to the fundamental way that children take in and process information.
Sensory play enhances learning through hands-on activities. It supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
According to my research, sensory integration therapy uses play activities in ways aimed at changing how the brain reacts to touch, sound, sight and movement. A new study backs parent reports that sensory integration therapy improves daily function in children with autism.