The importance of sensory play arises from the toddler’s ability to control it. It comes naturally to children. In a way their sensory experience is parallel to a scientific experiment.
When exposed to a stimulus, a toddler takes in what is visually appealing about the object. He forms his opinions before putting the object through series of tests (throwing them on the ground, chewing them).These tests help him learn more about the sustainability of the object. Finally, he reaches an ultimate diagnosis which decides the fate of the object. The scientific method to the same can be expressed in these steps.
Observing –> Making Hypothesis –> Experiencing –> Reaching a Conclusion.
Same stimulus is experienced distinctly by different toddlers. A nap time toy is a cuddle toy for some kids while for others it would be something they like to observe before sleeping. All these sensory experiences are important as they are beneficial in several ways. The benefits of sensory experiences include:
1) It helps in building nerve connections – Cognitive development
2) Facilitates in the development of motor skills.
3) Hastens language development
4) Aids in scientific thinking
How would you creatively engage toddlers in a bathroom?
Does your child throw a tantrum before bath time? Is he extra cranky in the bathroom? Is he or she always whining when you have to get ready? Well, here are a few activities you can try to keep them engaged in the bathroom. These activities are fun, inexpensive and will also be a learning experience for your kids.
Coloured Ice: Coloured Ice is a fun activity to play with toddlers but requires a bit of prior preparations.
Add different food colours to water in your ice tray. Freeze the water overnight and add them in one or different containers. Keep these containers in the bathroom and watch your child add water in them. These ice blocks can be played around to get water of different colours. Kids would be amazed by how the water becomes entirely of a different colour when two different colours of ice blocks are added and mixed. This activity is fun, intriguing and can stretch for any amount of time by using water temperature to your advantage. For a quick bath, provide the toddler with only a few ice cubes dipped in warm water. The best thing about this activity is that it is not just restricted to the bathroom and can be played anywhere
Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Mirrors can be tutors to toddlers. You can use them to teach kids about different sensory organs. Point at his nose, eyes, mouth, ears and skin and make him repeat the names of these organs. You can also make a small rhyme like the one below about these organs.
“I have one Nose from which I smell.
Two ears that help me hear.
A mouth that helps me talk.
Two eyes that let me see,
And skin that makes me feel.
Can you Feel it too?: Bathrooms are homes to different textures. Feeling of these textures is a sensory experience for your toddler. Explain to him about few different textures before running his hand over soap, brush or his favourite toy in the bathroom. Ask him if the object was hard, soft, slippery or smooth. You can also dip his hand in water and make him tell you how the water was. This is a great sensory and learning experience for your toddler.
Sink or Float: Another interesting activity you can engage your kid in is Sink or Float. Let your toddler observe the impact of water on different objects by throwing things like leaves, toys and utensils in water. Later, before putting an object in the water ask the toddler whether that object would float or sink.
Opposite: Take sometime in the washroom to teach kids the concept of opposites. Simple opposites like a full mug to an empty mug or hot water to cold water can teach kids a lot. Ask them if they want more soap or less soap to wash their face and warm water or cold water to rinse the soap off.
Bursting Bubbles: Bubbles are always fun to play around with. Make soap bubbles and watch your toddlers burst them. Ask them if a bubble is big or small and if it has a colour. Be descriptive and use different synonyms for the same bubble. For instance, instead of using the word ‘small’ use the word tiny or use the word huge for big. They may not be able to grasp the words in the beginning, but they will slowly learn and will start using the same words.
Apart from the activities mentioned above you can try playing several others like keeping a growth chart and talking about things your toddler could not do when he was shorter or things he can do when he grows taller. You can also take time to help the toddler enhance his language by describing things like a big nose or small eyes. Mirrors can also be used to draw on when they get hazy due to water vapours.
Water is known to have calming effects on children. That would explain why they like splashing and getting wet in water so much. Pamela Taylor, early childhood development instructor at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, says, “Young children are drawn to water. They’re curious about it. It’s a universally appealing play material with unlimited possibilities.” Water provides toddlers with opportunities to learn and develop their sensory organs. Thus, time spent in water is always productive as long as parents look after their kid’s safety and never leave them unattended near water. Clean drinking water should be used for activities as toddlers have a tendency of chewing or putting things in the mouth.