Sensory play supports scientific thinking.
Scientific thinking encourages a child to use their senses to make new discoveries. ‘Let’s see what happens when I make really big splashes’ or ‘Will the ice break if I drop it on the concrete?’ Will it melt if it sits in the sun too long?’ Science involves experimentation, questioning, hypothesising, researching and investigation…. And we definitely need strong-minded thinkers, researchers and scientists in future generations, so let’s encourage them!
Creativity, problem-solving, exploration and question.
Children love nothing more than opportunities to squash, pull, pour, stir, grasp, tap, knead, stretch, rub, squeeze, push, squish, sniff, listen, pour, stir, whisk, combine, create patterns, taste, explore, solve, create and question – all things offered during sensory play.
Outdoors or indoors.
While the outdoors can be more suited to messy play, it’s possible to explore messier options indoors and still keep your home in a reasonable state (see the section on play trays, tables and tubs below). Consider choosing an area that will be easier to wipe up, like a dining room. Lay plastic sheets out if you need a bit of protection.
The bath is a great place to experiment with water play (while ticking bathtime off the list too!). You can turn most experiences into fun, learning opportunities by changing small things. Add some funnels, jugs & sieves and bathtime today will be entirely different to bathtime yesterday!
Sensory trays, tables and tubs
The use of sensory trays, tables and tubs is a great way of bringing outdoor activities inside, or to contain them so they’re easier to set-up and pack away afterwards. It’s a way of creating a fun, learning experience for your child, but ensuring it’s also enjoyable for you. A positive experience, that wasn’t a nightmare to clean-up, will more likely be repeated regularly! ...if this means setting up in the garden or on a patio with a hose or bucket of soapy water nearby, then so be it! Sometimes the weather doesn’t allow you to go outside, and some families don’t have access to an outdoor space. This is where sensory trays, tables and tubs will help!
A product that has emerged over recent years and is brilliant for containing sensory play is Tuff tray, but if you’re not wanting to invest in the price tag that accompanies it, there are affordable options that work just as well. For example, Kmart sells a deep-sided tray with handles in the kitchen section that was likely designed for carrying items like cups and glasses… but has been used by early childhood enthusiasts, so regularly, for creating sensory experiences that it has been tagged socially as the #kmartplaytray (instagram offers 11k images worth of inspiration!). It’s cheap and perfect for this kind of activity!