Say NO to Boredom – and Yes to Sensory Play! {Guest Blogger Sensory Series}

{Welcome Susan from Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers!}

Sensory Activities for preschoolers and kindergartenersDo your children look at you like they are bored – or maybe even use that awful word? Are you tired of them watching too much television? Do their eyes glaze over when you bring out the flashcards?

Then take time to play – the sensory way!

Why do Sensory Activities?

Sensory integration is the ability to take in information through the senses of touch, smell, taste, vision, hearing, and movement, and to combine the resulting perceptions with prior information, memories and knowledge already stored in the brain. In other words, children learn by exploring and discovering using their five senses and movement. You don't need flashcards or expensive products to teach your child through playful activities.

Photo by In Lieu of Preschool

Explore and Discover Using the Six Senses

Young children are eager learners, but due to their limited language they learn more from hands-on experiences. Of course, we know they explore by putting things into their mouth. But they also love feeling interesting textures, smelling different scents, hearing rhythmic/rhyming music and words, seeing/observing everything around them, and moving/interacting in their fascinating world.

Yes, I know. There are five senses, you're thinking. You are right! But I like to include movement as a sense.

Here are some examples of Six Senses:

  • Let children taste different items that are salty (pretzels), sour (lemons, pickles), sweet (candy) and bitter (olives). Food has an amazing array of tastes, textures and aromas.
  • Your child will love to see what happens when they mix paint, melt colored ice cubes (food coloring), play with shaving cream, or use chalk, crayons and markers.  Shaving cream also helps erase crayon marks and gets rid of germs.
  • Encourage your child to be still and hear different sounds such as the wind, soft music, bells, humming, laughing, sneezing, whistling, ice cubes melting, ocean waves, a rock thrown in water, rain, eating an apple, crying, breathing, birds chirping and anything else imaginable. Or give them pots and a wooden spoon or make simple instruments and they can entertain themselves for long periods.
  • Children love to feel objects such as using Playdough and finger paint. If you want your child to enjoy books, start with ones that have interesting things to touch, pull, push (sound buttons), pop-up or manipulate in some manner.
  • Children enjoy the sense of smell. Put different scents into baggies or jars and enjoy watching them experience scents and odors. They could smell vanilla extract, perfumes, flowers, onions, lavender, vinegar (pickles) and scented oils. Put scents in playdough for extra enjoyment. Take a walk and discover the world as they see, hear, feel, and smell it.
  • Children explore and feel through their body’s movements, spatial awareness and gravity. Kinesthetic learners need to MOVE, even while learning letters. The sense of kinesthetics involves body awareness, motion, balance, strength, and coordination so we can navigate through our world.
So if you are wondering if it is all right to toss the flashcards and not buy that expensive “educational” product to make your child a genius – yes,  it is recommended that children experience childhood the sensory way.

 

Then you may be able to decide which mode of learning your child prefers – which sense they favor for learning. But do continue to offer a variety of topics and kinds of books and share them with your child every day possible.

 

It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.
~D.W. Winnicott, British Pediatrician 1896-1971

Susan Case is a former Kindergarten teacher blogging at Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers where she posts about how children learn through playful activities.