In a nut shell sensory play involves any activity that uses any of the 5 senses; sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing.
The science behind it:
Simply put, it fires neurons, stimulates connections in the brain which in turn allows children to make sense of their world. It helps develop problem solving skills, communication skills and motor skills to name just a few of the benefits.
For more detailed information check out the following links:
cultivating-skills-through-sensory-play/. PBS website
Fun Sensory Activities:
I am currently trying to incorporate sensory play into my classroom as much as possible and whilst I admit it is often frustratingly messy, the children love it.
Below are some sensory activities I have been trying.
Coloured Rice: this was so much simpler to make than I would have guessed and took only a few minutes to mix each colour, then you just leave it to dry - easy.
I put out a few colours of rice in strips which were soon mixed into a rainbow mix, each day I added the next colour rice in a strip to be combined with the rainbow mix. My class are loving it and it is easier to sweep up than fine grain sand for sure.
What else I will do with it:
Capacity - how many cups of rice will you need to fill this bigger container
Magnetism - hide some magnetic items in the rice and let the children fish them out with wishing lines or wand magnets.
You will need:
Zip lock bag
How I made it:
Place a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to the zip lock bag, add the food colouring (anything from a few drops to half a bottle - depending on how bright you want the rice), add the rice to the bag, close shut and mix the rice and liquid together.
When you are happy with your mix spread the rice onto some old paper and leave to dry.
We have had a lot of snow this year, so I created an arctic play experience for the children. The children enjoyed exploring this activity from just looking at it to filling the water bowl with the snow and make believe with the animals.