FROM the moment our little ones are born, they begin to learn about the world, primarily by smelling, touching, tasting, seeing, feeling and hearing — referred to as sensory interaction. Sensory play is valuable in early childhood because it inspires the imagination, encourages creativity, independent thinking and discovery. Paediatric resident at Bustamante Hospital for Children, Dr Andrew Burton, said that in the absence of appropriate amounts of sensory stimulation, your child's risk for developmental and cognitive delays increases.
Last week we listed some sensory stimulating activities for children, for parents who may not have been sure what qualifies. This week we continue with some fun and exciting sensory learning activities.
Play guess the food
Resources you will need: An assortment of familiar foods and a blindfold.
Taste testing is a good way of knowing your kids' acquired food taste. If you want to know if they can identify commonly eaten foods without seeing them, then put on a little blindfold on your child and ask them to name the food after they have tasted it.
Soapy sensory jars
Resources you will need: 3-5 jars, dishwashing liquid, essence (fragrances), food colouring, glitter (optional).
Make sure to save peanut butter and other foods jars you have at home, wash them and keep them for activities like this. Fill a few jars with water, then guide your toddler as they add a few drops of food colouring to the water. Allow them to watch the colouring diffuse, but also show them that they can shake it to increase the rate of diffusion. Now allow them to add different essences (orange, eucalyptus oil, peppermint, tea tree oil, etc). Then, of course, just to make things a little more fun, you can add glitter.
Art and Crafts
Resources you will need: Paper plates or construction paper, water paint.
Spread a cloth in a corner on the floor. Give your sitting child construction paper, or some paper plates. Pour some paint onto a painting platter and give this to your child as well. Now, give your child free rein to mix different colours, smear paint, feel and touch and even taste the paint. IMPORTANT: It is always recommended that parents choose taste-safe, non-toxic paint for these activities because toddlers tend to enjoy tasting things.
Coloured ice sensory play
Resources you will need: 4-6 cups, water, ice tray, drink mix (various colours).
Help your kiddo to pour water in each cup, then add drink mix. Make sure that each cup has a different colour (flavour) mix. After mixing the drinks, pour equal amounts of the content of each cup into the ice trays. Leave it to freeze.
Use them during pool or snack time the next day, and use the opportunity to teach your child different concepts like cold, melting, and colour mixing. You can also ask them to guess or tell you the flavours of each drink mix.
Resources you will need: Box (wooden or sturdy cardboard), sand or rice (whichever is most convenient), toys (depending on the intent of the activity).
You can pour rice or debris-free sand into a little box for your child. You can also add different objects of different textures to the box or just give your child some sand toys like a shovel and bucket and even a truck for him/her to pretend play.
Another fun way to use a sandbox is as a treasure chest. You can hide letters and number cut-outs as well as other toys and objects that you want your little one to discover.