Sensory activities help young children learn and grow
Sensory activities engage multiple senses at once – hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch! For young children, sensory exploration can help engage their focus for longer periods of time. It boosts their thinking skills as they make new connections and rely on different sensory inputs for information. Sensory activities also help boost other areas of development by introducing new words and ways to communicate (language), sparking discovery and expression (emotional), exercising large and small muscles (gross and fine motor), and involving both the caregiver and child in an interactive exchange (social).
Enjoy these 6 sensory activities for young children and be amazed at what your child will learn through sensory exploration and play!
#1 Muffin Tin Puddle Play
Here’s a special sensory activity for the littlest ones!
WHAT YOU DO: Use a regular or large size muffin tin. Fill each muffin hole half full of water. Find household items such as balls, spoons, bath toys, and so on. Let the fun begin! Children under age 2 love to explore the way things feel and what happens when they touch them! The lets them do just that!
For easy clean up you might place a towel or bath mat under the muffin tin or take this activity outside!
#2 Animal Washing Station
Your little ones will love this sensory activity exploring and playing with the water and bubbles in an “Animal Washing Station.”
What You Do:
- Find a large container that your child can reach in to play
- Fill with soapy water
- Set out a sponge, rag, brush, or even an old toothbrush
- Gather plastic animals for your child to scrub clean
- Provide a container of clean water or a spray bottle to rinse off the bubbles and a towel to dry their toys
My kids enjoyed scrubbing and brushing the teeth of their toy dinosaurs outside on our deck. They had fun squirting water out of a recycled ketchup squeeze bottle to rinse. We let the dinosaurs air dry on a towel and observed how the water evaporated.
#3 Bubble play!
Playing with bubbles is an easy & delightful sensory activity for little ones and will boost their development! Playing with bubbles encourages your child to move and coordinate their bodies. For babies, watching bubbles float through the air helps them practice visual skills like eye tracking, distance, and depth perception. When your child pops a bubble, they are learning cause and effect!.
No bubble solution? It’s easy to make your own!
WHAT YOU NEED:
- ¼ cup dishwashing liquid
- 2 ½ cups water
- 2 tsp. corn syrup
WHAT YOU DO:
- Gently mix dishwashing liquid, water and corn syrup.
- Explore household objects you can use to make bubbles (pipe cleaners, plastic lids with centers cut out, slotted spoons, fly swatters)
- Blow bubbles and observe their amazement! Does your child follow them with their eyes? Do they reach out to grab them? How does your child react to popping bubbles?
#4 Dancing Ribbon Stick
Make a simple sensory craft with endless purposes!
TO MAKE: Attach 4-5 ribbons, yarn, or strips of crepe paper to a wooden spoon or paint stick by tying or using tape or a stapler.
FOR BABIES: Gently wave the ribbon stick in front of them and move it along their bare skin. Observe how your baby reacts. Do they follow the ribbons with their eyes? Do they wiggle or wave their arms and legs? Do they reach out to grab it?
FOR TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS: Encourage your child to wave the ribbon stick to music or tell a story. Go outside and run with the ribbon stick. Watch the ribbons move in the wind.
#5 Shadow Projectors
We discovered two methods to create shadow projectors:
Method 1: Tightly secure plastic wrap over the end of a flashlight and place a sticker in the middle.🔦
Method 2: Tightly secure plastic wrap over the end of a paper roll and hold in place with a rubber band. Place a sticker in the middle.🔦🧻
Make your own shadow projector and put on a show!
This activity is easier for older children, littles might have a hard time putting it together, but will love helping tell a story or put on a show with their new toy!
Making rhythm and music with items from the kitchen is fun & easy! You can test out this water xylophone or invent your own instrument–what sounds will you make today?
To create your own water xylophone: Line up 4-8 glasses and use a pitcher to fill each glass to a different level of water, leaving one glass empty. Tap the glass with a spoon to test low pitch & high pitch. How come the glass with the most water sounds low and the least water sounds high? Can you make your voice do low pitch and high pitch sounds? And, of course, plink out your own melody! In addition to engaging your sense of sound, this musical activity also helps develop motor skills and coordination.
We hope these six simple sensory activities gave you some new ideas to play with your child! As always, reach out to us if we can support you in your parenting. Being a parent is HARD, and we’re here to help!