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Why is Sensory Play Essential?

24th September 2018

The 5 senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling and tasting) are what babies use to learn about the world around them from birth.

Babies (and adults) retain the most information when their senses are engaged. This means that sensory play is crucial for children’s development as their senses are the most central way to process new information, to learn and to explore.

It is a great way for children to delve into and understand the world that they live in. Not only is sensory learning a lot of fun, it enhances learning using hands-on activities that will stimulate a child’s senses. This will help them differentiate different materials and substances as dry/ sticky/ hard/ soft, for example.

Sensory play is a way for children to experiment with different textures and smells so they can become more comfortable with them, which tends to lead to gaining a more positive experience with it. For example, if they hate foods such as baked beans or spaghetti, during sensory play they are able to touch, smell and explore the food in a comfortable environment with no pressure. This will develop a more positive pathway to the brain and could help the child to enjoy eating the food type in the future.

During sensory play, this is where the child will determine whether substances and feelings are positive and safe and will then store this information. This will then encourage positive behaviour and having the ability to complete more complex learning tasks.

Sensory play in the nursery supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills and social interaction. Whilst playing with other children, they can develop different learning techniques by observing other’s behaviour and create friendships.

During sensory play the memory will develop, enhance and create sensory attributes. Sensory attributes are when the memory will recognise certain materials or substances feel/ smell/ sound a particular way, for example, water is wet with no smell.