The world can be overwhelming for some kids, with all the different colours, sounds, tastes, and textures. That’s why encouraging sensory play from when they’re young will help their development. By using everyday household items and developmental toys, you can recreate these four activities for sensory stimulation in your toddlers.
- Scooping And Pouring
Using different items around your home, you can entertain your children quickly, while developing their sensory skills – and more! You can use what you find in the kitchen, such as rice, lentils or beans. Using a bowl or plastic container, fill it with your choice. You can even dye rice or beans with food colouring to make them colourful and fun. Using other developmental toys like spoons and cups, small balls or wooden blocks, your toddler can practice holding them, picking them out from the beans, and scooping and pouring.
They enjoy filling the buckets and moving the sand through their fingers. Using rainbow rice, beans, lentils or chickpeas, their sensory skills are being developed. If they pick out the bigger objects, scoop or pour, they’re also exercising their fine- motor skills. And, by using cups or bowls of different sizes for scooping and pouring, they’re learning volume, weight, and spatial skills.
- Hide And Seek
Otherwise known as sensory tubs, these bowls filled with beans or lentils can be used to find hidden objects inside. You could fill a bowl of lentils with a few coloured beans thrown in, and have your child pick out the beans per colour. You could do this with their other favourite developmental toys, like dolls, puzzle pieces, or LEGO.
This teaches them how to sort, make and find patterns, and count, just by seeking out everything you’ve hidden in the sensory tub. Another great idea would be to hide small alphabet letters of simple words or their names inside the rice and have them seek them out and spell out the word correctly.
- Imaginative Play With Cooking
How many times have parents complained that their toddlers don’t like specific foods because of their textures? Scrambled egg is too rubbery, mango, avocado and banana are too slimy, and porridge is too lumpy. This makes mealtimes very difficult for parents because they want their children to eat healthy foods which are also easy to prepare. But the different textures on a plate can be a sensory overload for a toddler who’s only just learning that varying foods have different tastes, smells, and textures.
But with using cooking and pretend baking, your children can learn different textures of food through playtime. It’s easier for them to feel these different textures in their hands first, so they can play with spare cooking utensils and use play dough to make “cookies”, or help you wash vegetables and fruit – that they can grab and feel – like berries, grapes, or cherry tomatoes.
- Create A Mini World
Did you ever make a mini world when you were a child? If you know what a mini world is, then you know how great they are for sensory development using toys you already had. A mini world is a set scene, using your children’s developmental toys, and some creativity. The different toys, and what you used for sand, plant life and terrain will provide a myriad of different textures that your child can touch, see, smell – and yes, even taste.
All you need is a tray, some toys, and a few items from around the house to set the scene. You could use sandpit or building sand or lentils for the earth, smooth and rough pebbles for some rocky terrain, and some toy cars – and you have a Dakar rally! If you throw in some plastic dinosaur figures, you have the makings of a new Jurassic Park movie. You can even recreate the ocean. Just fill a deep tray with water and blue food colouring, and your toddler can play with fish, shark and dolphin toys in their very own mini-pacific.
The feel of each toy, when they’re wet and dry, could even help your toddler tackle slimy foods, or chunky soup at dinner time. By using everyday items and developmental toys from around your house, your children will develop their sensory skills, and have fun with imaginative play.
When your child is a toddler, their brain is like a sponge. They absorb as much knowledge as possible, and retain more than you think! To improve their sensory skills, you can use these four activities. By using common items you have around the house, and your children’s favourite developmental toys, your toddlers will have a wonderful time playing and learning at the same time.