Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development.
It helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways. Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore.
Sensory activities are not just beneficial for children. Adults can also use sensory exploration to engage/connect the body and the mind, practice self-regulation and manage emotions.
Examples of sensory play:
A sensory ‘bin’- a container filled with a range of sensory objects made of different materials, varying in shape, colour and texture. Can be used to practice fine motor skills through using tongs to pick up certain objects from the bin. This can also help children with colour and object identification.
Mindfulness glitter jar- fill a glass jar with water and choose different coloured glitter to place into the jar (a colour for thoughts, one for feelings and one for emotions). Use this as a visual demonstration for what can happen when our thoughts cloud our mind and become messy and unclear. Sit the jar down and watch the glitter settle while breathing mindfully. (As the glitter settles, recognise this as the slow process of allowing thoughts to settle through mindfulness practice).
Blowing bubbles is another way to talk about transient emotions and thoughts, while at the same time acting as a mindfulness breathing activity through the action of blowing out.