Exploring the World through Our Senses: The Importance of Sensory Play in Infancy and Early Childhood

Exploring the World through Our Senses: The Importance of Sensory Play in Infancy and Early Childhood

Before they are even born, babies are learning about their world through their senses. From the womb they use their sense of hearing; listening to the voices around them and their mother’s heartbeat. Once a child is born they are easily calmed when hearing those familiar voices or snuggling close to their mother’s chest. Even a mother’s scent is calming to a child.

Babies absorb and retain information through the use of their senses. Exploration and use of the scientific process are facilitated through the use of all five senses. While using different senses, children develop cognitive, linguistic, social, and physical skills.  Sensory play can aid in this development by offering open ended opportunities to develop creativity.

The following are some simple activities to explore with your baby to help them define their senses and aid in their development.  Remember to always supervise while your baby is exploring.

  • Reading sensory books like Pat the Bunny
  • Bubble Pop! Children love tracking and popping bubbles
  • Go on a nature walk-look at the trees and sky, listen to the birds and feel the breeze
  • Make rain sticks out of paper towel tubes and rice/beans
  • Crawl through a Sensory Tunnel
  • Explore cold cooked pasta
  • Manipulate spikey or sensory balls-roll on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • Listen to different types of music, fast/slow music, loud/soft music
  • Explore in front of a mirror-make funny/different faces
  • Explore with edible finger paints (cornstarch and water with food coloring, potato flakes mixed with water and food coloring, yogurt mixed with Kool-Aid powder, condensed milk mixed with food coloring, corn syrup mixed with food coloring)
  • Play in water-cold or warm. Add cups, scoops, animals, etc. Add coloring, soap, etc.
  • Explore with hair rollers-stick them together and then separate them
  • Pull different types of fabrics out of an old tissue box
  • Make sensory bags
  • Play in the grass
  • Explore in a ball pit (kiddie pool with balls)
  • Play on a soft blanket
  • Use scarves to play Peek-A-Boo?
  • Make and explore Cloud Dough?
  • Make Oobleck (add ice and blend together for a different texture)
  • Exploring with hard/soft blocks/dolls, etc.
  • Parachute play
  • Sensory Bins-Explore Jell-O, Coffee Grinds, Colored Bread Crumbs, Oatmeal, Wheat Puffs, Rice, Potato Flakes, snow, and tissue paper etc. Use wooden spoons, slotted spoons, measuring spoons and cups, cars, animals, etc. to fill, dump and explore with.  You can also put the sensory bin under a jumperoo and let your child jump in the materials.

Have fun exploring with your little one!

Karen DeVito

Karen is the Hopkinton Infant Program Manager. She has been with NGCC for five and a half years has a Master’s of Science degree. Karen is the proud mommy to two little girls, Julianna (6) and Alyssa (2)

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