Sensory play isn't just another childhood pastime; it's a crucial part of growing up. You might've heard other parents talk about it or seen it online, and that's because it's more than just messy fun for kids. To understand more about sensory play, we decided to collaborate with Jennifer Stalley. She is the founder of Meemzy Magic, a company focused on creating all organic sensory bins and kits for kids of all ages. Here is what she had to say about why sensory play is such a big deal!
What is Sensory Play?
Sensory play is a unique form of play that can be a bit challenging to describe because it's so open-ended. Unlike toys with specific instructions like Legos, sensory play is all about exploring and creating with various sensory elements. It encourages creativity and allows you to tap into your inner imagination. It meets you wherever you are in your development, making it suitable for children with diverse interests and developmental stages.
Sensory play engages as many of your senses as possible. It includes elements like scented dough, sounds like jingle bells, various textures such as smooth stones and natural seashells, and wooden dolls to represent characters. The goal is to offer a wide range of sensory experiences so that children can choose what appeals to them on any given day
Some kids might be drawn to sensory play because they enjoy the tactile experience, like feeling sand running through their fingers and watching how it behaves. Others might be more interested in the social and emotional aspects, using sensory materials to build imaginary worlds and scenarios where characters interact.
What are the Benefits of Sensory Play?
The benefits of sensory play are endless. Sensory play is a powerful tool for child development. It fosters independent play, stimulates brain development by creating neural connections, improves fine motor skills, enhances problem-solving abilities, promotes adaptability, and boosts language skills. Engaging with sensory materials allows children to explore their world, build confidence, and lay a strong foundation for future learning and creativity.
What Ages are Appropriate for Sensory Play?
Age doesn't really define sensory play; it's a versatile activity that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. I don't like to assign an age limit to it, especially when considering individuals with different needs, including neurotypical and neurodivergent communities. Sensory play is for everyone, and the only limit is your imagination.
When Can You Start Sensory Play?
You can start sensory play right from the beginning with your child. In fact, even with a 4-month-old baby, you can engage in sensory play activities. For instance, taking your baby to a swim class where they experience the water can be considered sensory play. Typically, most parents begin introducing sensory play to their children around 1 to 2 years old, but it really depends on your child's readiness and preferences.
Sensory play can be adapted to suit your child's developmental stage. It can range from simple activities like playing with a bowl of whipped cream for some messy fun to more advanced sensory experiences as they grow. For instance, I introduced my sister's 5-week-old baby to sensory play with a balloon gently touching their feet. It's a sensory-rich activity with its bright colors, the sound of the balloon against their feet, and the tactile sensation, making it engaging and enjoyable. So, in essence, you can start sensory play as early as you want, tailoring it to your child's age and developmental level.
Make Sensory Play a Part of Your Routine
So, sensory play isn't just about having a good time; it's a crucial part of a child's development. It nurtures their senses, hones important skills, and sets the stage for a lifetime of curiosity and learning.
Making sensory play a part of your child's daily routine is a win-win situation. They get to have a blast while engaging their senses and developing essential skills. So, what are you waiting for? Get started with sensory play and watch your child's imagination soar!