Dec 14, 2020

The Importance of Sensory Play in the Early Years

Young boy with male practitioner taking part in a creative activity at nursery

Sensory play is a vital aspect of early childhood development, allowing children to explore and make sense of the world around them through their senses. By engaging in sensory activities, children develop language skills, problem-solving abilities, fine and gross motor skills, and cognitive growth. This article highlights the significance of sensory play in the early years and provides practical ideas for incorporating it into daily routines.

Language Enrichment: Expanding Vocabulary through Sensory Play

Sensory play serves as a platform for language enrichment, introducing children to new words and concepts. By describing the sensory experiences, adults can introduce a wide range of descriptive vocabulary, encouraging children to communicate and expand their language skills. Incorporating “wow” words during sensory play creates opportunities for children to develop a rich vocabulary and improve their language comprehension.

Problem Solving Skills: Nurturing Critical Thinking through Sensory Play

Sensory play nurtures problem-solving skills as children experiment with different materials and seek solutions to challenges, they encounter. By manipulating various textures and materials, children learn to think creatively and find innovative ways to overcome obstacles. These problem-solving abilities foster critical thinking, a skill that remains valuable throughout life.

Fine and Gross Motor Skills: Developing Coordination through Sensory Play

Engaging in sensory play supports the development of both fine and gross motor skills. Activities involving touch and manipulation, such as squeezing, pushing, pulling, and pinching, enhance hand-eye coordination and strengthen muscles. Sensory play provides opportunities for children to practice fine motor skills, such as using pincer grips, and improves muscle memory.

Cognitive Growth: Enhancing Understanding and Reasoning through Sensory Play

Sensory play promotes cognitive growth by facilitating the exploration of new materials and concepts. As children engage with different textures and substances, they learn about cause and effect, spatial relationships, and scientific principles, such as sinking and floating. These experiences contribute to their overall understanding, reasoning abilities, and cognitive development.

Sensory Play in Practice: Resources and Ideas

Within The Old Station Nursery Group, a wide range of sensory play resources is available, including paint, sand, water, cornflour, shaving foam, jelly, and food play. Parents can also find numerous everyday items at home to facilitate sensory play. Examples include sensory lights, spiky balls, glitter toys, kinetic sand, jelly baff, and scented playdough. The article encourages parents to seize the holiday season as an opportunity to engage in sensory play with their children, exploring materials such as shaving foam with glitter and tinsel or creating Christmas-scented playdough.

To conclude, sensory play holds immense value in early childhood development, offering children opportunities to learn, explore, and engage their senses. By embracing sensory play, parents and caregivers can foster language development, problem-solving skills, motor coordination, and cognitive growth. Through simple and accessible activities, children can embark on a journey of discovery, expanding their understanding of the world while having fun.

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