Summer is now winding down and we’re turning our attention to cooler weather, all things pumpkin, and the beautiful colors of fall.
What is sensory play?
Sensory play is a way to let your child explore by using their five senses: touch, sight, taste, hear, and smell.
Children are always learning through their senses ever since they were just minutes old. Young babies explore new objects and textures with their mouths and hands, recognize familiar faces and toys with their eyes, taste and smell new foods and drinks with their mouths and nose, and hear voices and noises with their ears.
Even though you may not realize it, we are all taking in so much information through our senses with everything we do. This is how we learn about new objects, places, people, and so much more.
How does sensory play help our children learn?
Sensory play helps promote early childhood development by allowing your little ones to explore new things in their environment. It’s beneficial to stimulate their sensory systems so they are understanding all aspects of an object or concept, instead of just one.
Some children may not understand new ideas when an adult just talks to them. They may need to touch, feel, smell, hear or see new things in order to make sense of it all.
Every child has a distinct way of learning and often times, a multi-sensory approach is the most beneficial to them.
For example, some adults enjoy reading
Children are the same way. They may not learn best from just listening to an adult speak so we have to offer them other opportunities to learn.
Sensory play can help to develop fine and gross motor skills, language, and problem-solving skills. It also helps to develop a child’s creativity and imagination. They are free to explore their environment and create their own unique experiences through play.
How do I
offer sensory play opportunities?
Your toddler is already exposed to many sensory objects already, even though you may not realize it. Every toy, book, or object provides some kind of opportunity to develop their senses.
However, we can even further create new activities to increase their sensory intake.
One of those activities is SENSORY BINS! Sensory bins use a variety of items that your child can touch, feel, observe, taste, or hear.
Using their senses to explore these items can help them learn about new objects in a fun way. It can even just give them a little break or calm them down by feeling different textures that may be soothing to them.
Fall Sensory Bin
The toddler years are perfect for these sensory bins. The amount that my daughter understands and repeats back is amazing to me and I love to watch her learn and grow.
That’s why I love to take these opportunities to teach her new things, especially during the change of a season. There is going to be so many new things that she will see and feel and I want her to be aware of how the outside world changes.
For this fall sensory bin, I am not only just letting my toddler play with new toys and items, but teaching her a whole new concept through her senses.
The purpose of this activity is not to just make a mess and touch leaves and corn. It is for her to learn about the fall season and all of the new items she will see both inside and outside.
What you need:
- Tupperware or any
medium sizedstorage bin
- Fillers (options below)
- Larger items (options below)
- Scooper or kitchen utensil
- Towel/sheet/mat (optional)
The great thing about sensory bins is that there is no right or wrong way to do it! You can use any items that you have around the house or can pick up at your local Dollar Store.
I love to do themed sensory bins, especially for seasons and holidays. This fall sensory bin will contain all things found in the fall.
I just included the items that I had around the house, but feel free to use other things that come to your mind or that you may have in and around your home. The options are really endless so get creative!
Fillers are usually the most of the items in the sensory bin. They’re typically small and fill the container up.
- Uncooked corn
- Uncooked black beans
- Uncooked rice (colored or plain)
- Candy corn
- Noodles (cooked or uncooked)
- Pasta (colored or uncolored)
- Small rocks
- Water (colored or uncolored, use food coloring)
- Apple sauce
These are the main items that your child will be learning about that go along with the theme of the sensory bin. You can use real or fake items to give the same effect.
- Candy corn
- Mini pumpkins
- Mini apples
- Mini animal figurines
What to do:
Just throw in some or all of these items into a Tupperware or storage bin and let your toddler learn as they play and explore! It’s that simple!
Have your child touch each item as you talk about what it is and the purpose of it. Depending on the age of your child, use new and familiar vocabulary words to develop more language.
For example, when my daughter takes out a leaf, I say: “That is a leaf. Say leaf. Feel the leaf. Leaves are on the trees. What color are leaves in the summer? In the fall, leaves change colors to red, brown, orange, and yellow. Then they fall off the trees and we see them on the ground. Have you seen leaves on the ground?”
Use a large spoon, measuring spoon, or any kind of scooper to let your child pick up and pour the corn filler out. Try every toddler’s favorite Fine Motor
- Although we always want activities that we can set our children down to do independently, sensory bins are not typically those kinds of activities. Your child should always be supervised with sensory bins due to the small checkable objects and the possible impending mess.
- To minimize mess, put a towel or sheet down underneath them in case of dumping or spillage. This way you can easily dump and shake out the overflow. You can also use the sensory bin outside so any mess can simply be brushed away.
- If you’re worried about the mess or potential choking hazards, you don’t need the small fillers (ie. corn, rice, beans, etc.). You can just throw in all the larger items for your child to touch and explore and it will offer a similar benefit. The main purpose of the fillers is for the fun feeling and possible calming effect.
- Try to select items that are not small enough that your child will put in their mouth.
Have fun and watch how your toddler learns and explore in pure amazement with the fun new sensory objects for fall!