Today’s guest poster are Katie of Mommy with Selective Memory and Susan of Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers. I am pleased to have Katie and Susan here to share their ideas on sensory play.
One night when my daughter was a little over two years old, I was trying to cook dinner. I was overly overly-ambitious that night, wanting to impress my husband with some delicious stir-fry. That sounds easy enough, but it takes a very sharp knife to cut broccoli, and it’s not exactly safe to hold your child on your hip while slicing slippery broccoli with one hand. I reached for the remote, but decided I really didn’t want to turn on the television. I also had a baby at the time, so my daughter was already watching too many television shows and DVDs throughout the day while I tried to feed a fussy baby.
Instead, I decided to try an experiment that my friend, Susan, had recommended. I had gone to Hobby Lobby and bought some fine sand and poured it into a large Tupperware container. I got out some funnels and cups and situated my daughter at the kitchen table. I showed her what to do with the sand. Then I watched in amazement while she played with the sand for an entire 40 minutes! She was mesmerized by it. She kept pouring it back and forth into the cups over and over and over again. She spilled some a few times, but I gave her the small dust broom and she cleaned up her own messes. Not only did I finish my stir-fry before my husband walked in the door from a very busy day, but I also brought my laptop to the table to sit beside her since she was still occupied. I was able to observe her having fun while I paid all the bills. I took a deep breath, relaxed and sighed with contentment. There was hope for us after all.
The beauty of this scenario is that mom was rewarded with some free time and her daughter benefited. While Lucy poured sand back and forth, she was able to relax and enjoy the sand’s texture. She learned about gravity, spatial awareness and enhanced her fine motor skills by scooping and pouring. Children learn by doing things that are interesting and relevant to them—or just for pure sensory/integration exploration. Even young children can spend 20 or 30 minutes on an activity that is developmentally appropriate, fun or challenging.
Opportunity, praise and encouragement will help your child develop skills but they also must be attainable, enjoyable and challenging or relaxing, depending on what you and your child need at the time. Think about that for a second. You have a chance to cook dinner in peace while the children are actually learning. They are benefiting from independent time. You guided them to the “tools” to play with and now they can explore and discover on their own. The sand experiment was just scratching the surface. There is a whole world that can be opened up to your child involving sensory play and fine motor skills. This will help build their fine motor muscles, eye-hand coordination and confidence so that they can learn to turn pages in a book, grasp a utensil or pencil, button clothes and tie shoes as they progress to the finer motor skills.
WHAT IS SENSORY INTEGRATION?
Sensory integration is the ability to take in information through touch, smell, taste, vision, hearing, and movement and to combine the resulting perceptions with prior information, memories and knowledge already stored in the brain. Young children are eager learners, but due to their limited language they learn more from hands-on sensory experiences. Of course, we know they explore by putting things into their mouth to feel or taste. But they also love touching interesting textures, smelling different scents, hearing rhythmic/rhyming music and words, seeing/observing everything around them, and moving/interacting in their fascinating new world.
The above is an excerpt from the book just released by Katie Norris and Susan Case: The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.
Let Children Experience Childhood.
What sensory activities does your child enjoy the most?
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