Sensory exploration is an important part of child development. Not only does it expose your little one to different sights, sounds, smells, textures and colors, but also teaches them about the world around them. The benefits of sensory play are huge: it boosts creativity, promotes higher order thinking, hones in on fine motor skills and so much more. Who knew playing in a box of macaroni could be such an integral part of early learning?
Setting up a sensory table or a sensory bin for your toddler doesnt need to be overwhelming. In fact, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! First, find a bin or a box. It can be more elaborate (similar in size to a water table) or something more simple (like a shoe box). Next, choose a theme and go with it! Change up the textures, materials and colors. The possibilities are endless. Think about anything (and everything) that might appeal to your toddler’s senses and start gathering materials. When your bin is full, it’s time sit back and watch as your child gets lost in the world of sensory play. Whether they’re scooping, stirring, squeezing, pouring or digging. The world of sensory fun will be alive and well.
*Below are some of the sensory themes my boys have enjoyed over the past few months*
SNOW: No matter how many times your kids have gone outside and played in the snow, there’s something about playing with it inside the house that is just, oh so fun! Not to mention, we didn’t have to go through the whole “30 minutes to put the snow pants, boots, gloves and hats on, only to be outside for 5 minutes” thing so today, we brought the snow in. And let’s be honest, we have plenty of snow to spare, so why not!?
We filled up the sensory bin, added a few drops of food coloring and threw in some cookie cutters, measuring spoons and cups. The perfect ingredients/cooking tools for some ice, cold snow cookies! ❄️
BEANS: We threw a few cold coins in there too, because why not? Ice cube trays and measuring spoons are simple and playful additions to the bin and can be used to scoop, pours and stir.
Color paddles are a fun visual sensory activity for your toddler to explore color and light. No paddles? No problem! We had these colorful bowls (another Dollar Store find) left over from a birthday party. Multi-purpose at its best. The kids enjoy parading around the house with them and looking through the colors. Sometimes we stack two bowls together and see what happens when the colors mix. Or, since the bowls are translucent, we find a sunny spot in the house and watch as a spectrum of light shines through.
My boys have been exposed to sensory tables since they were very little and while I always model the appropriate/safe way to play with the materials, things happen! Kids are sneaky! Play safe, everyone.