What is Sensory Play?
Welcome to the wonderful world of sensory play. When you have a little one, this is a phrase you may start to hear quite often. But, what exactly is it and how will it benefit your child?
We all have five primary senses; sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste. Simply put, sensory play is an activity that is designed to stimulate at least one (or more) of these senses in a fun and engaging way.
Here at Le Toy Van we are passionate about creating beautiful wooden toys that encourage learning possibilities through the magic of play.
When is My Child Ready for Sensory Play?
From the moment your little cherub is born, they are ready for a journey of sensory discovery. It’s a skill they start to practice in the womb so that, by the time they are born they can recognise sounds such as your voice and your smell. Amazing, isn’t it?
What are the Benefits of Sensory Play?
The benefits of sensory play are limitless. Babies naturally use their senses as they develop, so, anything a parent or carer can do to further encourage them will appeal to their inquisitive natures and assist their learning further.
As your youngster grows, sensory exploration can help them to make sense of the world around them. It is also crucial to brain development. By building essential nerve connections between the brain's pathways, it allows babies to complete more complex learning tasks.
Sensory play can also support language development, cognitive growth and memory function, as well as helping to hone social and gross motor skills.
Another benefit is that it can have a lovely calming effect on children who are feeling nervous, anxious or frustrated.
Read on to have a go at these simple activities together and immerse yourself in the amazing world of sensory discovery.
Sensory Play By Age
There are so many wonderful sensory activities to enjoy together with your little learner, most of which are super simple, effective and easy to create from home. It can also be a lovely bonding opportunity to share together.
Choose your activity carefully based on your little one's age and developmental stage. So, if you have a tiny tot who is still mouthing, then go for an appropriate activity that’s safe and doesn’t contain small parts or could prove a potential choking hazard. Always remember to supervise kiddies when involved in any water base play.
For new-borns and young babies, it can be as simple as gently blowing raspberries on their tummy or playing peek-a-boo. Letting them experience different textures through touch by running a feather down their arms and legs or a soft colourful chiffon cloth over their body makes for a fun and relaxing activity.
Introducing toys into the mix as they start to grow can add a new dynamic and stimulate further interest.
These wooden teething beads are suitable right from birth and are perfect for inquisitive little minds. As well as helping to soothe tiny teething troubles through taste, the bright colours and chunky wooden pieces stimulate sight and touch.
A baby gym is another ideal sensory based toy for our littlest learners. Inspire young imaginations with colours, sounds and textures to explore. This one is crafted from natural, sustainably sourced rubberwood with rounded edges for baby safe play.
Kids love to get messy (sorry folks it’s true) and these sweet sensory trays are easy to make and super fun too, without causing too much chaos. Take a tray or a recycled container like an empty butter tub or similar and pour in some household baking flour. Add some basic items you have around the home such as spoons, measuring cups, a sieve or even some ice cube trays and let them get to work. Little ones will adore making handprints and making shapes in the flour with their fingers too.
You could go a step further and add oil (2 cups of flour to ½ cup of veg oil) to make a simple cloud dough, perfect for cutting out shapes and moulding masterpieces for even more messy fun.
This amazing activity baby walker offers a real feast for the senses. Packed full of fun, there are 12 sensory features to discover, designed to foster curiosity and encourage early learning through play. A perfect aid to confidence building and taking those first steps too.
And how about this sensory shapes puzzle? This multi sensory toy is perfect for babies from 1 year upwards, designed to stimulate a variety of senses and spark curiosity. With 9 shapes to discover, shake to hear the jingling bell, peek through the kaleidoscopic lens and touch the soft, fluffy fabric.
As their curiosity develops further, push their imagination to preschool and beyond with some tempting DIY sensory treasures to keep imaginations sparked.
Sensory bottles provide oodles of amazement and there are so many different options to have a go at. We love these scented sensory bottles, using a recycled plastic bottle and filling with small sticks collected on a nature walk or from around the garden. Then, take a zip seal bag and pour in some uncooked rice. Add some natural food colouring in your chosen shade and add a few drops of essential oil, we like lavender for its calming properties. Then pour the rice into the bottle and tightly screw on the lid. Lastly, take a pin and poke tiny holes all over the bottle to release the fragrance. Not only does it look visually appealing, it will stimulate hearing and smell too.
Finger painting is another popular activity to try with young crafters especially when they are not yet confident holding a pencil or brush. Simply set out a paint station with paper and a range of coloured non-toxic, water based paints (look for Tempera paints if you can). Protect your table with a cover or wipe clean cloth and use an apron to prevent clothes getting covered. Then, encourage mini artists to dip their digits into the paint and get busy making fun pictures using their imaginations to create finger animals, shapes, flowers, numbers and more.
This adorable classic wooden camera is sure to be a hit with budding young photographers. A wonderful sensory toy, it features a sweet retro design with a fun kaleidoscopic lens. Its handy size and sturdy carry strap means it’s perfectly sized to take along on all their mini adventures.
For some good old fashioned family based fun, check out this Rainbow Cloud Pop toy. This interactive, spring loaded game is guaranteed to become a firm favourite for day after day of inspired sensory based play. Featuring colourful pop up rods, push them down and get ready to catch them before they drop!
We hope you enjoyed this read and feel inspired to ignite the senses. You can shop our beautiful range of wooden sensory toys, designed to spark curiosity and imaginative play in babies and toddlers. All of our toys are sustainably made with love and built to last for a lifetime of play.
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to keep in the loop on all things Le Toy Van by signing up to our newsletter. Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram too @letoyvantoys.