The Value of Sensory Play and tips to recreate your own at home

Children absorb information through their senses. Sensory play is play that stimulates multiple senses in the body. Children learn through their environment and adding sensory experiences helps to stimulate the brain by sending signals that help strengthen neural pathways. Exposing children to sensory play helps them develop and refine the use of their sense of hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste at an early age. Such play also facilitates exploration, and encourage children to create, investigate, make sense of natural and scientific processes and begin investigating and probing, which are core skills that help a child develop creativity.

At TrehausKids, we are big on sensory bins. Our little ones get their daily dose of sensorial development activities or what we call their “staple food” for the brain – valuable input that allows the brain to build new neural pathways that in turn support their growth in crucial areas of development.

Here are some of the kids’ favourites at TrehausKids, which are easy to recreate:

  • Pasta Pit

The abundance of pasta got kids aged 1 all the way to 8 years old curious and engaged. We’ve not seen a child walk by without stopping to touch and feel the texture of uncooked macaroni, penne and fusilli.

After the touching comes the scooping and pouring. Which was repeated for many minute with the help of various containers that were laid out, ranging from Yakult bottles and measuring cups to spoons and scoops of all sizes.

And what do you know, that unconsciously the children playing at the pasta pit were also learning the concept of gravity, volume and depth, and practising their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination!

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  • Sensory Exploration for Babies – Noodles and Eggs Galore!

As part of what we do for Playhaus, our babies get their sensory play fix almost daily; and this particular one sure got every little hand busy! It was a happy yellow mess, with the babies touching, feeling, scooping, pouring, pulling, twirling (and even tasting) long flat cooked yellow noodles and squishing hard boiled eggs!

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This sensorial activity coincided with the Chinese New Year celebrations where we took the opportunity to introduce Mandarin vocabulary to our babies and share the significance of red eggs (rebirth) and flat noodles (longevity) in Chinese culture.

  • Water Scooping and Soap Wash

Kids love water. Kids love soap. These two elements never fail to get a child excited for some reason. The thought of getting wet, maybe? Or perhaps the excitement of bubbles and suds bursting right before their eyes? Bath times are always fun times.

And so we go rub a dub dub, and get the kids to give the things in the bin a good bath – cars, insects, water beads, everything!

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  • Shredded Paper

If you want a treat for the eyes, here’s it. For the month of February, we’ve been getting red packets from everyone. So what do we do? We shred them up and put them in a bin, and hide trinkets in it for the children to go treasure hunting.

The colour bursts of pink and red are such a visual fest for the little ones, and excellent when we want to introduce specific colours to young children.

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  • Beans, beans, beans!

Sensory bins featuring beans of all kinds from dhal and mung to black beans, green beans and red beans always score with the kids. The texture, the size, the colour of beans are intriguing to little hands. In addition to that, the fun of mixing them all up while scooping, pouring, shaking, stirring appeals to all the senses (except taste – no, we won’t anyone to swallow anything for sure!) and makes children very happy.

We love bean bins!

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The kids here at TrehausKids love sensory play, so much so that many refuse to go home once they start exploring! We are pretty sure they usually leave “fuller” than they were when they came, because all these bins (which we call “staple food” for the brain) are oh so nutritious!

Elizabeth Wu (also known as Liz) is mum to three lovely kids who gave her reason enough to leave her job as an educator to pursue present parenting, meaningful learning and magical moments with them. Liz believes that learning should never take place in a vacuum and wholeheartedly protects her children’s right to play because she believes that children play to learn. She co-founded Trehaus and directs play at Trehaus Kids, and blogs about her parenting journey at motherkao.com.

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