We had a lovely warm day the other day, so I decided that we would all head outside to see how much fun 5 children could have with 1 can of shaving foam and my patio doors. It was a big hit, they loved to smear it across the glass, running their hands repeatedly through the foam, sometimes drawing pictures and then rubbing them out again. I think I might need a bigger patio door!
Today I let them loose with some jelly, not the horribly sticky shop bought jelly but some I made up some with gelatine and food colouring. To start with they had just the 3 primary colours and they enjoyed exploring not only how the jelly moves and feels but the way the colours mix together and create new ones. It was brilliant to hear one child say "I've made purple, red and blue make purple!" they were very amazed but then asked what other colours could they make, we set about trying other combinations of colour. I'm wondering if this will be something they will remember, it might even be a better way of teaching the mixing of colours rather than with paints! The highlight of today was one of my children when they started with me last September was very reluctant to touch anything and eyed any type of sensory activity with suspicion when I first introduced shaving foam to them, they would only touch it with the tip of one finger, today, they were straight into the tub and the last to leave the activity, they wren't at all bothered by the textures etc one happy childminder as well as a happy child :)
After lots of mixing etc, they asked if we they could add some shaving foam and I thought why not! It certainly added a new dimension to it and honestly it did clean up very quickly and easily.
Children learn about their world through their senses and have done so since birth. So providing a sensory rich play experience can help the child, through stimulating their senses, especial their sense of touch, to really connect with their body and develop body awareness. Sensory play is also very relaxing through the rhythmic pouring, stirring, squeezing etc this aids a child's emotional development, because it helps them learn ways to calm themselves. The physical manipulation of the different sensory material, will aid their hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills e.g. while playing with rice or pulses. It will help with problem solving, as they learn to deal with different types of material and how they can manipulate and use this material.
Sensory play is not just about the sense of touch, a child will use their eyes to look at the colours, movement etc, hearing, as they listen to the different sounds material make as they are poured from one container to another, smell, if you have added essential oils , herbs etc to the material, or through cooking, taste can also be used during cooking or food tasting to involve all the senses and help the child learn about their world. Through sensory play the child learns to integrate all the information coming to them through their senses. Oh yes and finally sensory play is just great fun for all ages, including adults!