What’s with Sensory Play?

October 23, 2021

What’s with Sensory Play?

Let me start this off by saying, I LOVE SENSORY PLAY! and I want YOU to love sensory play as much as I do, but I get it, if you scroll through Insta of google “sensory play for 2 year olds” it conjures up beautiful set ups of brightly colored legumes, wood stained spoons and bowls and very little mess and while this CAN be sensory play for some, for the vast majority sensory play is messy, it’s simple and it has so many benefits for our little people! 

Whats Sensory play? 

OK, put simply sensory play is an activity that engages any of a child's five sense (touch, smell, taste, sight and sound) and when you think about it there are probable many activities that you do on a day to day basis with your child that are considered 'sensory play', things like picnics in the park, puddle jumping, bubble baths and eating dinner with your hands.

 So what's with the hype then? Well, kids are naturally drawn to play that utilities their sensors and sensory play is more about encouraging this hands on learning by offering an opportunity for kids to properly explore this interest either by providing organised sensory activities (here is one already made for you)

It makes sense right? but just in case you weren't convinced here are just a few reasons why sensory play is so beneficial for children:

  • Sensory play supports children's fine and gross motor skill development, problem solving skills, cognitive growth and language development
  • Sensory play increases brain growth by creating additional synapses, children learn not only through hearing information but by seeing, feeling, tasting it, this is why book based sensory play is particularly good for supporting the retention of information from a story (words, sentence structure, story structure).
  • Emotional regulation, this is actually the main reason why I first dipped my toe into sensory play, my son is and has always been running at 100%, jumping, running, talking, so for us sensory play encouraged him to slow down and to be more mindful.

Where to start?

It's easiest to just jump right in, grab a baking dish, Tupperware container or serving plate (I love this one from Kmart), pop in spoons, tongs, measuring cups, basically anything you fancy from your kitchen draws, now hears the fun part, add a sensory base! Here are just a few easy ideas to get you started:

  • Water 
  • Ice
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Pasta (cooked or raw)
  • Dried beans
  • Leaves
  • Sand
  • Shaving cream
  • Dish soap

OK, now you have the basics down you can really start having fun introduce play dough, waterbeads, rainbow rice, add bells, essential oils and toys (like these super cute Australian animals) flashcards, letters/numbers, puzzles (oh FYI do yourself a favour and grab this sensory recipe page too) . I'm personally a huge fan of small world play and bookish sensory play and make themed sensory trays related to a book, I've found that by adding the sensory element to a book, it sustains children's interest for longer (hello time for a coffee) and encourages a love of reading. For the busy parents out there, Little Play Books has put together play packs that have everything you need to set up a fantastic book based sensory play with out having to buy everything. 

Need some inspiration?

Here are some of my favorite accounts for sensory play inspo: 





CAUTION: Some items used in sensory play can be a choking hazard, I recommend always supervise your child or play along side them when they are participating with sensory play. If your child is still mouthing items I recommend using a DIY sensory bottle.

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