Sensory learning is an important part of childhood development and supports and fosters cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction, and problem-solving skills. Simply put, a sensory activity is any activity that engages the five senses. In addition to the commonly considered five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing) sensory learning and activities also increase proprioception is (i.e. body awareness) and balance. Hands-on activities that engage the senses increase exploration, creativity, and exploration. They help to develop pathways in the brain that lead to feelings of positivity and safety when a child encounters textures, sights, sounds, and new situations. Sensory activities and play expand your child’s engagement and comfort with the world around them, opening up doors for endless creativity, problem-solving, and social success. Sensory activity ideas We’ve established that sensory activities are important to your child’s development. Fortunately, sensory activities and play don’t have to be complicated. Here are just a few simple ideas for engaging sensory play: Frozen Dinosaur Eggs Materials: balloons, mini dinosaur figurines, water Directions: Put a mini dinosaur figurine into a balloon, then fill the balloon with water and tie off. Place in the freezer. After they are frozen solid, remove from the freezer and peel the balloon off. Put the new “dinosaur eggs” outside or anywhere you don’t mind them melting and let your child figure out the best way to melt the eggs and free the dinosaur! Rainbow Slime Materials: liquid starch, school glue, food coloring Kids love making slime and especially love playing with it! Simply mix equal parts starch and glue and mix thoroughly. For rainbow slime, divide the slime up into small batches and add a different color to each. You might want to set a small batch aside for your child to play with while you add the colors. Put it all back together and the result is beautiful rainbow slime! Slow Motion Sensory Bottle Materials: tall water bottle, warm water, clear hair gel, glitter, lego blocks or other small items, tape or glue to secure bottle lid Combine one part hair gel to six parts warm water. Let it cool completely and settle. Pour mixture into the water bottle and add glitter and lego blocks/small items. Fill to the very top. Test and then secure the bottle with glue or tape. Your child will love watching the legos move slowly through the bottle! Sound Basket Materials: anything that makes sounds A “Sound Basket” is super simple to make using items from around the house. Fill a basket, bucket, or bin with different items. Consider your child’s age and be sure to protect them from any choking hazards. Bonus: making the sounds with many of the objects also engages the touch and sight senses! Examples of Sound Basket items: A soup spoonA wooden tapping stick from a commercial instrumentTwo pot lids from toy pots – one metal, one plasticOne metal toy potTwo flat stones to tap togetherBell or bellsWater bottles filled with different items (rice, pasta, buttons, seashells) Hands-on sensory activities and play are an important step to your child’s development, and fortunately, they’re easy to make at home! At Red Door Early Learning Center we understand that learning and play work together. We utilize hands-on, project-based learning to encourage exploration, problem-solving, social skills, ingenuity, and FUN!