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  • Writer's picturePatricia Mezu LL.M, M.Ed., AMI Montessori Diploma

6 Benefits of Sensory Play


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Image courtesy AMI Montessori

Introduction

In the world of early childhood education, one powerful tool stands out as a catalyst for learning, development, and creativity: sensory play. This article is useful for educators and parents.

From squishing playdough between their fingers to splashing in a water table or building the pink tower, young learners engage their senses to understand the world around them.

Today I’m asking you to consider the role of sensory play as a way to enhance your services to the children in your community.


And Note! There’s a great recommended resource at the end of this article.


Here are six benefits of sensory play


1. Enhancing Cognitive Development

Sensory play provides a rich environment for cognitive growth. When children engage their senses, they strengthen neural connections, improve focus, and enhance problem-solving skills. Activities like sorting objects by texture, pouring and measuring in sensory bins, or exploring different scents stimulate critical thinking and cognitive abilities.


Suggested Montessori resource:

The Smelling Bottles - includes various scents securely stored in safe-to-use child-sized bottles. The bottles provide children with the fun of smelling and identifying different smells e.g. coffee, lemons, strawberries, lavender (multiple possibilities).

2. Promoting Sensory Integration

By engaging in sensory play, children develop their ability to process and integrate sensory information from their environment. This integration is crucial for their overall sensory development, enabling them to respond appropriately to various stimuli.

Sensory play activities such as finger painting, sand play, or exploring textured materials help children refine their sensory processing skills.


Suggested Montessori resource:

The Fabric Boxes - this is a simple and easy-to-replicate activity, pairing different types of fabric. This activity builds language as well as sensory experiences that are age-appropriate.

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3. Stimulating Language and Communication Skills

Sensory play provides an excellent opportunity for language development. As children explore different materials, they naturally engage in conversations with peers or adults, describing their experiences and expressing their thoughts and feelings. This verbal interaction enhances vocabulary, communication skills, and self-expression.


Suggested Montessori resource:

The Colour Tablets - this is a great resource! Again it is easy to replicate on a shoestring using (for example) beautifully laminated coloured squares, rectangles and hexagons (shapes of your choice).

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4. Encouraging Fine and Gross Motor Skills

From squeezing and moulding playdough to climbing and balancing on playground equipment, sensory play supports the development of both fine and gross motor skills. These activities strengthen hand-eye coordination, finger dexterity, balance, and spatial awareness, laying the foundation for later academic and physical achievements.


5. Fostering Social and Emotional Development:

Sensory play is a social experience that encourages cooperation, turn-taking, and sharing. It provides opportunities for children to engage in collaborative play, negotiate, and problem-solve together. Moreover, the sensory stimulation offered by such play activities has a calming effect, supporting emotional regulation and stress reduction.


Suggested Montessori resource:

The Peace Table - a simple and ingenious concept for conflict resolution.

Again, this is simple to create and can reflect something within the culture where you live. The aim of the table is to highlight a safe space for children to visit when they need to resolve the inevitable challenges.

As with all/most activities involving young learners, adult guidance is required.

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6. Igniting Creativity and Imagination

Sensory play unleashes a world of imagination and creativity. By engaging their senses, children create narratives, experiment with materials, and explore endless possibilities. Whether it's creating a sensory garden, building with blocks, or engaging in dramatic play, sensory experiences spark imaginative thinking and creative expression.


Conclusion:

Sensory play is a cornerstone of early childhood education, offering a multitude of benefits for young learners. From cognitive development and language skills to motor coordination and social-emotional growth, sensory play nurtures the whole child.


As educators and/or parents, it is essential to tap into the power of sensory play, providing rich and diverse opportunities for children to explore, discover, and learn through their senses. By doing so, we lay a solid foundation for their lifelong love of learning and holistic development.

Recommended Resource

There are two recommended resources.


One resource is for educators and leaders in early childhood education who wish to improve and enhance their practice, quickly, using personalised professional development.


This is particularly important if you are moving to a new position soon.


Check the website - The PRMINDS How-to-Series !


Alternatively, watch a short video here - VIDEO

The second resource is from Piplo Productions, a conscious company producing stories for social good! On the first day of every month, the books are accessible free on their website.

It's always a pleasure for me to connect with professionals in early years. This content is taken from my periodical newsletter - 'Snippets of Early Childhood Education'.


I look forward to hearing from you!







Patricia Mezu, M.A.Ed.

Director | Advisor | Coach





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