As a term, sensory play might sound a little vague. In reality, it’s an important aspect of child development. This increasingly popular approach to playtime is all about encouraging children to think about their senses, allowing them to engage with their surroundings.
Why are kids so hands-on?
As you may already be aware, recent years have seen the rise of slime. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t panic – it’s not as horrifying as it sounds! Search for “satisfying” content on Instagram or YouTube and you’ll be inundated with trend-setting youngsters playing with the sticky stuff. Maybe it’s the Flubber craze that never was. More likely this comes from the broader recognition of the benefits of sensory play.
Stimulation toys have always been used by occupational therapists as a resource for encouraging focus and relaxation in those diagnosed with ADHD and autism. Children are finding out about slime and fidget toys through social media, and they want in.
You may see this as just another fad – fidget spinners became as prolific as Tamagotchi and loom bands – but children bringing sensory stimulation techniques into school is a sign of the shifting needs of our young population. There’s no ignoring the importance of addressing this in teaching techniques.
A creative alternative to traditional learning.
With the BBC rolling out their new Super Moverscampaign, exercise is infiltrating the classroom on a national scale. Through their ‘Super-Size Experiment’ they found that physical activities improved brain speed by as much as 19% in many schools!
Since educators are increasingly aware of the benefits of merging playtime with learning, let’s look at how you can encourage this on the playground.
To further encourage creativity outside the pressure of structured learning, we also suggest creating nature-trails and sensory play areas. From musical instruments to water trays, our sensory and inclusive play equipment meets the desire for tactile experiences.
Features to include in a sensory playground:
To inspire visual investigation and alternative forms of communication, go for mirrors and drawing stations. In addition to chalkboardsand wipe-clean whiteboards, the Hand Made Places Tracing Boardencourages children to apply their imagination to the world around them.
Be sure to provide specific multi-sensory adventures to explore – our Finger Mazes and Totemsguide children into thinking about different textures and colours whilst interacting socially and developing their motor skills.
Sometimes the classics are hard to beat. As well as the sensory satisfaction of exploring natural elements, Sand Pits and Water Trays offer learning opportunities. Whilst splashing about or sculpting, a child can start building a basic understanding of the physical world.
As a skill which engages with multiple senses, gardening is one of the best sensory activities around. Including one of our shaped Plantersmight even inspire a life-long passion!
Something dedicated to noise-making is the final element necessary to bring a sensory playground to life. We offer a great range of melodic and rhythmic percussion and if you just can’t choose, the Sound Centreincorporates some of the best elements.
Sensory play is not only on-trend, it’s now a vital feature of teaching which keeps children engaged.
Here are some ways to promote learning on the playground through physical and sensory play: