Sensory play can sometimes be messy, and most of the time- the more messy, the more fun! And it is not just about fun, it has so many benefits.
What can be so beneficial to getting dirty you may ask? Let me explain:
All children(and adults) have sensory needs: through our senses, we make sense(excuse the pun) of the world around us. Children are more likely to get the most visual stimulation(because of the age we live in and the way we use technology for entertainment). There is nothing wrong with using technology, but then it must be balanced out with other types of play: outdoor play, imagination play, construction play etc. All of these play types can happen when you provide sensory play opportunities for a child: playing outdoors in a sandpit, providing a bowl of beans(which can be pretend rocks the play truck must pick up), playing with blocks and playdough(building a house) etc.
According to research sensory play has the following benefits:
- Young children learn about their environment through sensory play.
- Through sensory play, neural connections are built in the brain that supports learning, thinking and creativity.
- Sensory play promotes skills like hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, language development, problem-solving skills, cognitive skills, perception skills and social skills(playing together with friends).
This Infographic explains the benefits of sensory play beautifully:
So, messy play, is not just to make a mess(and to annoy adults), it has educational value. At our school we incorporate sensory play in our daily program through playing with different materials(under supervision of course) eg.
– dry rice (see this awesome book: Rice Play)
– dry beans
– dry and cooked pasta
– shaving cream
– paper mush
– cotton wool
– dry corn
– dry samp
– bird seed
And many more!
Your child will get dirty clothes, nails and hair. But, luckily, your child, and the clothes are washable! We ask of our parents to dress their children in older clothes, as well as to understand that with the learning fun comes the messy kid!
The kids enjoy sensory play tremendously, they have fun(sometimes messy, sometimes not) while they are learning and that is what childhood is all about!
And check out this awesome Sensory Toolkit to use at home, school and when traveling!