Imagine you had a resource that you could pull out and use in times of big emotions, stress and developmental changes in our little humans’ active minds. A resource that would cater for the individual sensory needs of your child and bring the magic of play alive in your home. A resource that would create calm, wonder, exploration and excitement. No need to keep imagining — let’s explore how we can create a sensory play kit at home!
By Incy Wincy Fingers founder, teacher and Biostime Nutrition partner, Renee Zigic
What is a Sensory Play Kit?
A Sensory Play Kit is a selection of fine motor tools, sensory bases, natural materials and objects that can be combined to create meaningful and purposeful play experiences. The kit provides opportunities for active exploration and a stimulation of senses, which research has proven to be vital for healthy brain development. At the same time, sensory play assists with the development of fine motor skills such as muscle strength and control within those precious little hands, fingers and wrists.
How to create your own sensory play kit at home:
It is up to you and your little human as to what you would like to include within your own sensory play kit, however here are my recommendations for building your own sensory play kit.
I will start by sourcing the sensory bases. While on your weekly grocery shop, add a few extra packets of legumes and seeds into the shopping trolley. These are all wonderful natural sensory bases that you can reuse over and over to create an engaging play tray.
Some examples of different bases you can use are:
- lentils (green, orange or brown)
- corn kernels
- pearl barley
- dried kidney & black beans
- sunflower seeds
- dried pasta (there are lots of different shapes, sizes and colours available)
- rice (you can colour this with food dye and vinegar)
- shredded coconut
Other bases can include:
- kinetic sand
Once you have purchased your sensory bases, you then want to get a tray. The beauty of sensory play is that you can pretty much use any type of container to set up the experience. This can even be a recycled cardboard box! For most of my sensory play experiences I use a round metal tray I purchased from Kmart. I love that these trays enable my littles ones to engage whilst sitting opposite each other. This also provides opportunities for social and emotional development and language building of taking turns, sharing and getting along.
My favourite storage container for sensory kits is the GLIS box. The beauty of this tool box is that it has separated compartments and is stackable to save space when stored.
I have a range of open-ended resources and materials that I typically store in my sensory toolboxes such as:
- Fabric leaves
- Gemstones & rocks
- Wooden peg dolls
- Scrabble letters
- Natural materials such as wood slices, gum nuts & twigs (collected from our nature walks to the park, backyard and art and craft suppliers). These nature bits all have different textures and are so open ended. Your little explorers may choose to build fences with them, use them as eyes, stack them or even make a path or road.
- Fine Motor Tools: It’s beneficial to expose children to various wooden and plastic fine motor tools. Each tool provides opportunities for your little ones to build strength in their hands and wrists and to explore and master the positions of how to comfortably hold them. You can find fine motor tools all over the house, especially within the kitchen draw. Otherwise, visit my website to check out my complete range of wooden and plastic tools.
One of my children’s most loved items in our sensory play kit is the range of toy figurines that we have collected over time. From different transport vehicles, unicorns, fairies to dinosaur fossils and astronauts.
The secret to sensory play is being organised and prepared with a few simple materials and resources to let the magic of play take over. The benefits and development are endless for creating and encouraging inquisitive learners. Once you engage and get the hang of this type of play, you will never turn back.
For more tips on ways to connect with your children when playing together click here.