I must admit, keeping a two year old entertained can be a bit of a challenge! But, since I have learned about and started to use sensory bins with my child I feel like I have a fun, educational and much healthier option than the iPad when he needs an activity to keep busy. Since I have met Val, the local owner of Born 2 Create a company that inspires creative play and discovery, I have been amazed at the power of sensory play. I want to share with you what this is all about and how you can get started!
What is sensory play and why is it important?
Sensory play is important because it is what kids naturally are drawn to. When kids engage in messy sensory play, their senses are stimulated. When their senses are stimulated, they are learning. Kids learn best by doing. Sensory play is completely child directed and it has no final product.
Sensory play encourages creativity and imagination
When children spend time engaged in sensory play, mixing and pouring, scooping and digging, they are indeed “playing” and having fun but these activities help them develop cognitively, physically, linguistically, socially, emotionally, creatively and physically. By picking up a grain of rice or a bean from a bin, they are working on their fine motor skills as well as learning about shape and space of objects. When they mix in a bin of goop (my favourite) or water they learn about density of liquids. When objects in a sensory bin are different colours, shapes and sizes, their brains learn to distinguish between these things and as they sort out like objects they learn about sorting and classifying.
Sensory play allows children the freedom to explore using their creativity for endless possibilities. One of the easiest and manageable ways to contain sensory play is in a sensory bin.
What is a sensory bin?
A sensory bin is a container which engages your senses. It can contain anything, most often textures which encourage creative play. Items in a bin can be dry ingredients (rice, pasta, coffee, flour, beans) or wet (clean mud, goop, water beads). Often there is a combination of ingredients which create an altogether new texture or material.
Sensory bins engage all your senses. Textures can stimulate exploration with appeal to your feeling senses. Colourful bins and the variety of colour appeal to children’s visual sense. When items such as beans and rice are scooped and played with they are audibly appealing. Some bins, because of the ingredients, can have a scent and stimulate the sense of smell.
FUN + DISCOVERY + LEARNING NEW SKILLS:
- Sorting and Classifying
- Specific skill recognition
- Fine motor skills
- Soothing- repetitive and calm activity
- Redirect energy in a positive way
For those who may be hesitant to start but want to try sensory messy activities at home, here are a few tips:
- Start small – create one bin at a time. Rice or beans are an easy place to start.
- Tell yourself that this kind of mess is okay. Lay out a blanket on your kitchen floor and let them discover.
- Use this creative sensory play as an opportunity to teach boundaries. For example you can say to your kids, “I would like you to keep the rice in the bin. If a little spills out, that is okay. If a lot spills out or you dump it out, I will have to put it away”.
- Introduce sensory play on a day you know you will clean the floor. If the weather is summer-like, take it outside.
- Encourage your child to discover, play, imagine and create. Try to find out which texture they most like; dry (such as beans, rice, popcorn kernels, coffee beans), goopy/messy (goop, clean mud, pudding), or wet (water, water beads, snow).
- Get together with other friends and try a sensory playdate!
If you are interested in learning more about sensory play, registering your child in a “messy” play class where they will experience a variety of bins with other children or booking a sensory bin making workshop please contact Born 2 Create. My son and I regularly attend the “messy” play classes and I am amazed at how engaged he is and what fun he has in this 45 minute class. Modern Mama St. Albert/Edmonton North also recently hosted a sensory bin workshop for moms and we learned so much from Val about how to extend play and learning with the bins!
*This is a sponsored post but as always, the opinions expressed in this article are my own:)