Sensory Toys For Toddlers
Wednesday, 27 April 2022 | Charis
Right from birth, our little ones use their senses to explore the world around them and make sense of their environment. As they can’t rely on speech and comprehension, they explore using their senses; touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing
Giving children the opportunity to use their senses through play is vital to brain development, not only heightening their senses but enriching their learning. With more opportunities to engage in sensory play, children are more able to complete complex tasks, have better language skills as well as better developed fine and gross motor skills.
The five senses that are engaged in sensory play are:
What is Sensory play?
If you’ve got a little one you may have heard of the term sensory play at their nursery, from other parents but what is it? Sensory Play is a form of play that engages one or more of your little one's senses. As well as the ‘5’ senses, play that involves movement or balance is also part of sensory play. Sensory play can be done quite easily at home with so many household items like; dried pasta, baking trays with paint or playdough! Even things like splashing the water in the bath is a way to do sensory play!
Sensory Play aids children's language development, fine and gross motor skills and problem-solving skills. The act of exploring senses is also great in helping children find calmness as they can find a sense that allows them to feel comforted. Sensory Play is also useful to help children that experiencing anxiousness or can get easily frustrated.
Sensory Play allows children to understand and make sense of the world, as they make links between what they see, hear and feel! Sensory Play is great to introduce concepts like cause and effect to toddlers as they figure out how their actions can affect things around them, aiding their social and spatial awareness.
Sensory Play gives children new ways to talk about the world and opens up a whole new set of vocabulary. When playing with them we can discuss the senses that are being heighted and explored and give names to them; warm/cold, slippery/dry, rough/smooth, loud/quiet etc
The act of exploring objects with their hands through sensory play allows children to really refine their fine motor skills; Grasping, pinching and pulling objects! Using Balance and climbing frames not only builds up their strength and confidence but also develops their gross motor skills.
Sensory Play Ideas!
Sensory play can be as simple or as detailed as you want, using items from around the house or incorporating toys that have a sensory play element!
- Simply asking your little one what they can see or hear on a walk
- A bowl filled with cold jelly is fun touch and taste sensory game
- or water play using a washing up tub and some toys and colour dyes
- You could set up a sensory play box full with activities that engage multiple senses
As well as homemade setups, there are lots of toys that can aid sensory play! Here’s a few of our favourites!
FOR EXPLORING TOUCH
Little ones love exploring with their hands! These sensory stones from Yellow Door are perfect for children to discover different shapes and textures. Made from a stone and resin mix the Yellow Door range is super tactile and their chunky size means their easy for little hands to grab! The Sensory Flower stones, have fun idents meaning they're great to use alongside playdough, mud, sand or paint! And due to their materials, any mess can easily be washed off with water! (another sensory play activity) The Yellow Door 'Let's Roll' range of sensory rollers are also a fun sensory toy that created shapes and animal impressions in playdough, sand and mud! See them in action here.
Yellow Door Flowers - Sensory Play Stones
FOR THE SENSE OF SIGHT
Our eyes enable us to recognise shapes, distance, movement, colour, and depth and this extensive Forest Floor set from Tender Leaf will help children explore all these elements of sight! Sort the loose-play pieces out into the different colours, group up the different shapes and identify the different objects! The beautiful wooden box also doubles up as a tinker tray, and can be filled with sand, leaves, sticks, stones and more to extend the sensory experience.
Tender Leaf My Forest Floor
FOR EXPLORING SOUND
Our children recognise rhythms and beats very early on so incorporating sound, in this case music is so beneficial to their development! Exposing our children to different sounds and types of music can create more pathways between the cells in their brain! Music can also help children to identify sound patterns through repetition!
Sounds can also be really soothing and also uplifting! We know as adults how a good song can really help change or uplift our mood! We love this xylophone from Little Dutch! Children can experiment with sounds, notes and rhythm combinations to create their own little melodies! Made from wood this cute xylophone isn't as loud as typical kids instruments so they can play to their hearts content and you won't be left with a headache afterwards!
Little Dutch Xylophone, Blue
EXPLORING TASTE AND SMELL
Taste is one of the most fun senses (well we think so anyway!) but we can't expect our little ones to try and like absolutely everything! Thing of things you eat now that your child-self wouldn't dream of (for me it would be things like pickles, spinach and olives!)
Making taste a fun experience - removing the fear out of trying new foods can help the exploration of taste be really fun! You can let pick out some things they want to try or let them explore different versions of one type of food - different types of apples or cheeses for example!
We love doing this by separating up the food! Our Liewood range of dinnerware is great for this! Made from kid-proof silicone their plates and bowls can withstand pretty much anything and can be popped in the dishwasher for quick easy clean up!
Liewood Gordon Plate
Active play is so important for many reasons! It helps develop gross motor skills, improves balance as well as building confidence and spatial awareness. As toddlers have much more energy than when they were babies, encouraging active play is great to use up all that excitement and energy! This Pikler inspired climbing frame allows children to learn and master gross motor skills at their own pace. Handmade in Ireland by Sawdust & Rainbows these climbing frames can grow with your children as you can add on accessories such as a slide or include games!
Sawdust & Rainbows Wee'Un Climbing Frame
Want to explore more Sensory play toys? Shop our Sensory Play edit here!