Senosry Play - A must for all toddlers!
Toddler's learn best through play, especially when using all their senses. Messy play has many benefits
1. Helps build nerve connections in the brain
2. Develops language
3. Fine motor skills
4. Gross motor skills
5. Hand eye coordination
6. Practice life skills
Using sensory materials gives children a hands-on experience and because they learn by doing, it demands creativity, sparks curiosity and enables children to use their imagination as they are in charge of their own learning. They learn by doing through self-directed play.
As parents and caregivers, we might be apprehensive of messy play simply because of the mess involved and the time taken to clean up.
Here are some tips to help you
1. Take It Out
Whether it is a garden or a balcony, having a space outside the house makes messy play easier to clean up and puts fewer restrictions on the child
2. Prepared Environment
If working indoors, place a large plastic sheet under the activity, to make the clean up easy. Keep a wet towel nearby for your child to wipe their hands, face etc. Place a rag along with the activity for your child to clean up any spills. Have them wear an apron that can easily be taken off once soiled.
3. Plan Head
Messy play also can be done in the bathroom. Whether it is painting the bathroom walls or scooping and pouring water, time the activity before bath time so that your child can quickly shower right after the activity.
Here are a few quick and easy play setups for you to try at home.
Trim the sheep’s wool
On a piece of cardboard, draw the outline of a sheep’s body. Then cover the entire piece of cardboard with clear tape. Spray shaving foam to represent the sheep's wool. Give your child a popsicle stick as a pretend razor to trim the sheep’s wool. Place an empty bowl near the board for the ‘cut wool’ to go and a napkin too. Your child will use their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination as they sweep off the shaving foam and put it into the bowl.
Animal rescue jello
Add gelatin powder to a deep dish, pour warm water and mix vigorously. Then add some cold water and animal figurines. Put it in the refrigerator to set. Once it has set, invite your child to use tongs, spoons or a spatula to rescue the animals. You can create several variations of this activity by changing the color of the gelatin (use different flavors) and also changing the figurines. For example, use blue gelatin and sea animals to create an under water theme.
On the farm
On a partitioned tray (you can use a traditional thali) add cocoa powder with a few drops of water, rice, dal, moong, shaving foam and mint leaves. Present farm animals in a bowl and talk to your child about which animal might go where - the pig enjoys playing in the dirt (cocoa powder) , the cow likes grass (mint leaves) and the duck in the pond! You might want to read a book about the farm before doing this activity. Along with the sensory benefit, this activity also presents an opportunity to build language and learn new vocabulary.
On a tray, set up bowls, syringes and squeeze bottles filled with different colored water. Invite your child to add the water from each into the compartments of the ice tray. Squeeze bottles and emptying syringes demands the use of fine motor skills. Your child will use their observation skills as they see the colors change. Measurement comes into play as your child makes their soup thus developing their pre math skills too!
Baking a cake is a lot of fun but not always possible to do, so here is the next best thing. In different measuring cups and bowls, lay out the following ingredients on a tray
1 Cocoa powder + water
3 Brown sugar
4 Water + yellow food colour instead of oil
5 A few drops of milk + water instead of all milk
6 Plain water
7 Raw egg
8 Mixing bowl, baking pan, spatula and whisk
Having real ingredients is a true sensory experience as it includes the smell component! Invite your child to mix the ingredients and put the batter in a mold.
Add different lentils (black, yellow, orange, green dal) and rice in small bowls and place them on a tray along with a funnel and a spoon for your toddler to mix and make a Biryani! This can be a choking hazard so be sure to closely supervise your child during this activity.
Mix shaving foam and food color to make different flavored ice creams. Add scoops, spoons and molds for your toddler to scoop the ice cream and place onto paper cones or cups. This is a fun activity to do on a hot day and exercises your child’s fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. It also enhances their creativity and imagination.