I recently reviewed the sensory box subscription service My Sensory Crate (see my review here). I liked it so much that we decided to collaborate with My Sensory Crate-who’ve kindly sponsored this post.
What is Sensory Play?
During Sensory Play children experiment with the five main senses through their play: seeing, touching, hearing, tasting and smelling.
In my experience, Sensory Play can be particularly beneficial for children with Autism and or Sensory Processing Disorders- as a way of helping them compute and organise external stimuli.
But I’ve also found that Sensory Play is beneficial for ALL children.
Why is Sensory Play Important?
- It Incorporates how Children Naturally Learn – The reason why babies put things in their mouths and touch everything around them-is to learn! They are investigating the world around them using their senses. This shows that Sensory Play is a very natural and a fundamental way of learning.
- Therapeutic and Calming– Whether it’s twinkly lights to watch, soft textures to feel/squeeze or calming music to listen to- Sensory Play is often extremely relaxing for all children. I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful tool for helping children calm down when they become overwhelmed, overstimulated and or stressed. Sensory play can be a brilliant way of children expressing their emotions and letting them out in a safe, controlled activity.
- Fine motor skills– Many toys designed for Sensory Play also have the added benefit of fine motor skill development. These are the activities that develop the tiny muscles in hands and fingers that are imperative for tasks such as learning to write, doing up buttons and using a knife and fork. In My Sensory Crate they include sensory toys such as Plasticine to help develop this skill.
- Language development– During Sensory play key words such as loud, soft, rough, bright etc. are reinforced or introduced when describing the toys. Not only is this beneficial for extending children’s vocabulary, but it enables children to explain their difficulties to those caring for them. For example, a child who finds bright lights and loud sounds overstimulating- will benefit from learning to say to others ‘bright’ and ‘loud’. Also for a child who finds a rough, scratchy label can distract and irritate them- developing the language to communicate this difficulty will help others to help them.
- Problem Solving Skills- Often through Sensory Play children are learning how to find a solution to a simple ‘problem’. For example, what happens when I squeeze this ball/press this button? Problem solving an important life skill and helps children to understand the basis of cause and effect.
- Everyone is ‘Good At It’-One fantastic aspect of Sensory Play is that that everyone, regardless of ability, is able to join in and enjoy it. There are activities to stimulate all the senses meaning if a child is limited with one of their senses (for example sight) they can enjoy the experience with their other senses (e.g touch)
- Help Children to Make Sense of the World- Sensory Play involves children using basic Science skills. For example they practise grouping and differentiating how things feel or look: is it smooth/rough, hot/cold, wet/dry, bright/dim?
How can you do Sensory Play at home?
There are many sensory toys available to buy (or if you’re crafty..make!) to stimulate the five main senses.
We particularly liked the idea of My Sensory Crate as they take the hassle out of choosing new Sensory toys. They carefully select a range of different and appropriate sensory toys for you each month and deliver them (in a very smart box!) to your door. Taking away the time consuming element of trying to find, select and purchase new Sensory Play toys to continually engage and expand children’s learning.
Its good to know that My Sensory Crate donate 10% of their profits per box to the National Autistic Society.
My Sensory Crate can be bought as one-off purchase, as a gift or as a subscription.
Here’s our voucher code to save 10% off your first month-to-month My Sensory Crate box: CHESSEN10