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Sensory Play Encourages Thinking—and Fun!

Too Small to Fail
By Too Small to Fail

Sensory play encourages thinking--and fun!

Have you noticed how babies try to put everything in their mouths, no matter the yuck factor? It is one of the many reasons we must remain vigilant around young children, but it’s also a fascinating peek inside their active brains. By using their senses—sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste—young children explore and learn about their world. And this curiosity offers a great opportunity for parents and caregivers to help their children learn.

Even from before birth, children are gathering information about the world around them. Researchers now know that infants in utero can recognize their mother’s voice, and many recognize commonly heard sounds and speech patterns. From birth on, babies use all their senses to catalog what they learn and to develop their thinking skills. It is during this time that “sensory play” (play activities that encourage the use of all five senses) becomes important for later learning.

For example, babies learn to recognize songs they hear from parents and caregivers and eventually learn to sing along. And when a parent or caregiver describes the different textures they encounter—like coarse sand or smooth glass—young children begin to expand their vocabulary to better describe what they feel.

Parents and caregivers can encourage sensory play by offering safe, fun activities inside and outside the home that stimulate baby’s senses. Baskets filled with scarves or plastic kitchen utensils offer safe, fun ways for a baby to use sensory play. Also, parents can use everyday moments—like splashing water during bath time—to encourage exploration of the world around them.

 Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from NAEYC explains why “babies like boxes best”, and how parents can encourage sensory play in their young children.
  • This article from Kids Health describes how children learn from play and the safe exploration of their environment.
  • Toddlers learn from “experiments”, says this article from ZERO TO THREE.

VIDEO: Kayden became a social media sensation thanks to her excitement at running in the rain. Check it out, here. >>

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