Sensory play/Roo's first week of Preschool

Roo and I started our first week of (pre) preschool on Tuesday, and it seems to be going well. I started out with the goal of one letter a week, one number every two weeks, and one shape and color every three weeks. This covers a September-April school year and leaves space for holiday themed weeks and allows time off to fit my work schedule. This week was the letter A, the number 1, the color RED, and the shape TRIANGLE.

The first day “we” drew the letter, shape, and number on to red paper and cut them out and glued them to our progress board. I cut several triangles out of the leftover red paper and had Roo practice gluing them to a white piece of paper. It made a lovely mosaic like picture to hang on the progress board!

The second day, I set up my first sensory bin filled with As and 1s from Roo’s magnetic letters and numbers bucket. I also drew triangles and As on small pieces of paper. Then I covered these with dry rice and beans. I even colored some of the rice red for added practice with the color.

Red dyed ricedried rice and beans

sensory bin

Now, if you’re a mom of an infant or preschooler and you frequentPinterestfor activity ideas, chances are you’ve heard the term “Sensory Play” thrown around. It’s a huge trend that actually has multiple benefits for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and I would guess through 1st or 2nd graders. There’s sensory bottles, sensory bags, sensory balls, sensory pits, and sensory bins. But what is sensory play, exactly?

Basically, everyone (but especially young children) learns through the five senses. The more senses that are tickled during learning, the quicker it will be stored to memory. Hence why my sensory bin of dry rice and beans also contained the things we are learning about. Roo could dig, and pour, and even smell (I added a scent to the rice) the sensory filler while searching for the items we are learning about. I left out buckets and suggested she place As in one, 1s in another, and Triangles in the third. This encourages sorting skills that are essential to mathematics and science in her later school years. She actually did really well with this, but lost interest after awhile and turned her attention to shoveling the beans and rice into a bucket and then pour that bucket into another bucket. We even attempted to draw the shapes in the bin.

I set her up with this in the kitchen while I stood at the sink to do dishes. She would sometimes shout excitedly, “I found a A!” or “Look, a triangle!” If she was quiet awhile, I would chime in and suggest she sort things or ask her to find a specific item. I got my dishes done and then some before I sat on the floor to join in the fun with her. She had been at it about an hour when I said it was time to put it up and do out other planned activities. Roo actually cried, “No, this is my school! I want it just a few more minutes.” and sobbed while I put all the items back in the bin. I promised to bring it back out before nap time. That time she played another half hour before admitting she was sleepy and needed a nap. I’d say this was a hit!

Roo would definitely give this 5 out of 5 stars! There was some inevitable sweeping up of run away rice grains and beans afterwards but otherwise this was a very clean activity. The prep can be simple or complex, depending on what you want the bin to be like.( I’ll be posting ideas that I’ve done regularly.) 5 out of 5 stars for Mommy!

A few more notes on sensory play:

It is frequently used is reference to children who are on the Autism spectrum. A symptom of autism can be a difficulty processing different textures. By playing with sensory items and exposing the child to textures in a way that is fun and explorative, the child can learn to process them in a way that isn’t overwhelming or threatening.

It’s my opinion that the term “Sensory Play” has become a trendy thing for bloggers to talk about and moms to obsess over because it is so often forgotten.Sensory play can be a term used to describe any activity that engages more than one sense. A textured ball that lights up, some colorful goop, ect. Our children’s world is full of technological advances that are beyond what we could dream of when we were their age. My two year old can turn on her tablet, find a video to watch or game to play, and entertain herself for a good 20 min or so. I think that’s amazing! I think it’s a skill that needs to be encouraged because who knows where it can lead her later in life. At the same time, these simulation games and puzzles don’t replace the real thing. Roo can find a matching game and seethat the colors match, but she can’t feelthe edges and thickness of the puzzle piece. The more senses that are engaged, the broader of a learning experience she will gain. That’s why real world play is more important at this young age, while she’s still learning with all five senses. Doctors and other experts have been warning us about “too much screen time” and the developmental delays it can cause. Much of what “Sensory Play” is about, is getting your hands dirty and just being a kid. I believe “Sensory Play” was created in answer to many parents question: If they can’t watch tv/play on the tablet, what should they do? What will hold their interest the same way? It’s a reminder about what things interested us at their age. I hope you try out a sensory bin like the one Roo and I did. If not, at least take your child on a walk and smell the flowers, look at the clouds, feel the grass, listen to the crickets, and maybe taste a cold popsicle.

See you next time!

Mommy and Roo