Why is sensory play important?
Children are constantly trying to make sense of the world around them. Babies and toddlers explore the environment and experiment through their senses. Babies like to hold an object, look at it for a couple of seconds and put it into their mouths. This is how they gather and process new information. When their senses are stimulated, the sensory input is sent to their brains, developing neural pathways which are essential for cognitive development.
Why Sensory Bins?
Sensory Bins are bins which contain everyday materials and props for exploratory learning and sensory play. You can find an array of different types of sensory bins all over Pinterest or educational blogs.
There are plenty of benefits that sensory bins can offer for your child! Children can learn to:
1. improve their fine and gross motor motor skills
2. Engage in child-directed play, where children when playing together can come up with their own rules and negotiations
3. Develop cognitive skills
4. Improve their language skills and expand their vocabulary
5. Be involved with imaginative play (Children keeps creating their own play scenes! They can pretend water to be the ocean for the animals, or learn to bake a cake using sand!)
How to assemble sensory bins
The best part I love about sensory bins is how easy it is to assemble them. You can just create a myriad of sensory bins to engage your preschooler with basically anything!!
Look into your kitchen, play room, craft materials, garden, bathroom to see what you can use or recycle! It need not cost anything to put together a sensory bin! You can create specific themes, colour coordinated bins, or learning-specific bins.
Use a tray or deeper container to put the materials in. A deeper wider container will prevent spills. You can place it on a mat or play rug to prevent messes and make for easier clean-ups! Containers that have divided sections can also allow you to put in different types of materials, and can create opportunities for children to be involved in more complex play!
Rice, flour, sand, beans (all kinds), shaving cream, corn kernels, dough, dry pasta, shredded paper, leaves, dirt, twigs, cereal, oats, marbles, cotton balls, jelly, and basically anything!!
Props you can use for children to deepen their exploratory experience:
Figurines, blocks, shovel, cups, spectulas, spoons, pom poms, wire cleaner, toys, role-play props, forks, etc
Things to Remember:
This must be a supervised activity at all times! Small materials are choking hazards for babies and toddlers!
Allow your child room for creativity and imaginative play when she is using the sensory bins! Extend their play by providing prompts for more elaborate play scripts! Expand their vocabulary by asking questions that encourage them to take observation of the materials, how the materials feel to their touch, and prompt them to use descriptive language to describe the props or whats going on in their play episode.