Senses are how people receive and process information. When you think of senses, most think of taste, hearing, smell, touch and sight and these senses are all important for children to explore. Sensory activities for your child may or may not be something you think about frequently. There are many activities that you can create and do at home with your child that can encourage children to investigate their senses and learn how to use their senses to explore the world around them. I will be splitting the activities into different age groups, but you can use your judgement to whether or not the activity is appropriate for your child.
Babies (6-12 months):
To create a sensory bag, you will need these materials:
- Freezer zip lock gallon bags
- Hair gel or vegetable oil
- Small items to place in the bag- these can be anything from beads, to small plastic animals, to buttons.
- Duct Tape
Place the items into the freezer zip lock bag, squeeze the hair gel or vegetable oil into the bag and put duct tape around all of the edges to prevent items from spilling out. Let the child push around the items. This is a good way for the child to use their sense of touch without getting too messy. Here are some more examples of different sensory bag ideas.
Toddlers (12-36 months):
To create sensory bottles, you will need these core materials:
- Plastic water bottles (you can use any type, but I prefer these ones!)
- Water or clear baby oil
- Small loose glitter
- Super glue or hot glue
Honestly you can create sensory bottles so many different ways! Using the materials above, you should first fill the bottle with water and/or baby oil to total ¾ full. Pour in the loose glitter. Super glue or hot glue the top on. In some cases, you may need to glue the outside of the top as well. If you need even more protection, use clear book tape around the lid to secure it.
Often with children, sensory bottles are used as “calm down” bottles. This is to encourage children to use the sensory bottle to help them calm down. Sensory bottles can be used without water or liquid to create a noise maker as well. To find more examples of types of sensory bottles, click here. Sensory bottles can be used for the sense of touch, hearing and sight.
Preschoolers (3-5 years):
To create a sensory bin, you will need these types of materials:
- A plastic bin (you can use something like this, or this)
- Rice, noodles, dried cereal, sand, dried beans, water, etc.
- Small spoons, bowls, cups, tweezers, cars, animals, people
A sensory bin is very versatile. You can use whatever you may have available at home. I like to provide scooping and pouring materials for the child to practice using, as well as toy people or animals for the children to use for pretend play. The point of a sensory bin is to provide a spot for the child to explore the items through touch, sound, and even sight. Explore what you may have at home and put it in a bin! It is as easy at that. Here are a few examples of sensory bins that you could create.
It is important to remember that every child will react to sensory activities differently. There may be a child who does not like the feeling of sticky or pokey materials, and will refuse to touch the items. This is totally okay! Every child is unique and will react differently.