Sensory play is a great tool for both smaller children and older ones, especially those who have special needs. It’s an excellent opportunity for creative play, including allowing younger children to explore their world. Not only that, sensory play can be as expensive or as cheap as you want or need for it to be. Many times, your child will be fascinated by things that you already have on hand in the house. What family doesn’t have a forgotten bag of beans or rice shoved into the back of a cabinet, or a container of soap, hair gel, or other product that just didn’t work for them sitting in a closet or under the bathroom sink? What about those little toys that inevitably accumulate when you have children—the ones that have no use or appeal once they’ve come out of the kids’ meal packaging or party bag?
Instead of throwing them away, what if you used them in sensory projects for your kids?
Sensory play has so many benefits. It has been suggested that toddlers who engage in sensory play are less likely to “fingerpaint” with other things that they shouldn’t—for example, the contents of their diapers. Their need to play with those things has already been answered through sensory play. Toddlers also have the ability to explore their world in a safe, nonthreatening environment—to squish things between their fingers, and experiment, and feel. The sense of touch is one of mankind’s most valuable, and one that little ones should be encouraged to explore as much as possible.
High-needs children will also benefit from sensory play, often in ways that their parents couldn’t even imagine. They are soothed by the repetitive movements and the simplicity of the project, as well as the materials included in the playtime. This can lead to overall better behavior and a calmer child.