Sensory play is an important part of the development of every child.
Getting messy, being artistic and creative will help to develop a whole host of skills. Fine and gross motor skills, imaginative skills, creativity and problem solving are all improved by sensory play. And, for children with additional needs, these activities are just as important for essential emotional regulation.
Sensory and messy play activities
Have a designated area set up for sensory play. This helps with predictability, and will also make cleaning up easier!
Why not try some of these activities at home with your child...
Water play is great for indoor and outdoor activities. At home, a tarpaulin under a water table reduces the risk of soggy carpets.
The best thing about this activity is that it's so clean and easy to enjoy. Kids love playing in water, and if they get carried away then there's no risk of staining their clothes. Water dries with no lasting marks, which means that this is one of the best messy play ideas for parents that don't like messy play.
The texture of sand is appealing to most children, and there's so much fun to be had. When you can't get to the beach, bring it home for sandcastle building in the playroom.
Teach children to use a variety of tools, like rakes and spades, to manipulate the soft grainy sand.
You can also use the sand to teach early motor control, as children write letters and draw shapes with their fingers.
From the moment they're born, children engage with bright and colourful lights. These are perfect for mental stimulation, and development of sensory skills. Even newborns pay attention to lights and will take great delight in following a light around the room.
For older children, sensory lights create a more relaxing environment.
Slime and gloop
Playing with slime is a sensory treat for children of every age. It can be messy, so make sure that you've got an easy-to-clean work surface.
Alternatively, make your own Gloop using a combination of cornflour and water. At the right consistency, this stays solid when squeezed but turns to liquid once you release pressure.
Children love to let their inner artists out. You'll need plenty of art and craft suppliers, to appease your child's inner Van Gogh.
Make sure that you have ample playroom art storage, with room for all belongings from paints and paintbrushes to thousands of googly eyes!
Children go through a lot of paper, which might not be good for your bank balance. Having a chalkboard helps. With a chalkboard your children can create something wonderful, then erase it and start again. The chalkboard is a sustainable surface for drawing and writing, suitable for use from toddlerhood right up to exam revision.
Cutting and sticking
Many parents don't realise how soon their kids can use scissors. In fact, if your child goes to nursery they might already be a cutting and sticking expert. This is one of a child's early learning goals, and you can help your child to learn to use scissors safely.
A weaving panel is a fantastic addition to a large indoor playroom. It's also perfect as an outdoor toy, used through the summer months. Weaving fabric through a frame develops your little one's motor skills. They can use their creativity to create a work of art, using only strips of colourful fabric.
With a few pipe cleaners, some googly eyes, pompoms and PVA glue, your child can create a sock puppet to star in their own puppet show. Sock puppets are easy to make, and each one can be completely unique. Once the puppet is made, the fun continues as they develop their storytelling skills.
Why choose sensory and arts & crafts toys?
The benefits of sensory toys, and art and craft toys, are benefits that will last a lifetime. A child's imagination is a wonderful thing and should be nurtured and protected.
With plenty of playroom art storage, and space for a bit of messy play, you'll have everything you need to show your child the power of their own brain.
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