Angel from Tots Play Sale provides us with ideas for sensory games you can play at home.
Did you know a baby’s brain capacity grows every time they experience something new? Their learning capacity is literally expanding with each new sight and sound as neurons fire and create new connections called synapses.
So what to do when you are prevented from going new places or meeting new people? How do we get their neurons firing when stuck in the same environment for weeks?
First of all, don’t panic! Exposing your baby to “new” things doesn’t mean taking them exciting places, or anywhere really. It means finding things new to them, which could be as simple as trying a lemon for the first time or running their finger through some oats. So the good news is, you can expose your baby to countless new sounds, sights, textures, smells and tastes all from the safety of your home with simple sensory play.
At it’s heart, sensory play is meant to engage the senses and stimulate new synapses as the little one interacts with something for the first time or just in a new way. No elaborate props or expensive toys are needed. And coming from a non-crafty mum, the good news is you don’t need a glue gun either or any special skills to engineer great sensory play.
Look for anything with an interesting texture or shape, big enough to safely handle, and pop a few in a basket for baby to play with in an open-ended, non-directed way. As they try to figure out what the item is or does, their little neurons will be firing away! Some great go-to items for these sensory baskets are a wooden spoon, a clean sponge, a pinecone, a massage roller, a brush, a scarf, a whisk… you get the idea!
In addition to having a sensory basket on hand, each day try to find a couple of ways to interact with something in your house in a fresh way. Here are some examples to get you started…
Look at things from a new perspective
- Place items on a mirror to see them from all sides.
- Create shadows.
- Hold your baby upside down or sideways and let them look from a new angle.
- Hold them up high to see what things look like from up there.
- Take them in a room you don’t often go in and narrate what’s in there.
- Open cabinets or drawers together and pull out objects that are safe for them to touch.
- Find as many objects as you can of the same colour and group them all together.
- Play with a torch- shine a light all around.
- Find similar objects line them up according to size- a small, medium and large ball for example.
- Put christmas lights in a salad spinner or plastic pot.
- Put small objects (too small for baby to safely handle) in bottles to examine.
Make new sounds
- Make shakers with bottles or milk containers and rice or coffee beans.
- Use wooden spoons to bang on pots, plastic tubs, and foil containers.
- Tap on different objects and surfaces around the house- with your hands or other objects.
- Make noises with your mouth.
- Download sound files from the internet.
- Listen to music from varied genres with a variety of styles.
- Listen to foreign language clips (or speak in a foreign language).
- If you have any instruments, play them!
- Snap your fingers.
- Clap your hands.
- Stomp your feet… you see where I’m going with this!
Find new things to feel
- Search your wardrobes for fabrics with different textures and present a few at a time.
- Put oats, cereal, jam, or other food in shallow dishes and let them feel.
- Freeze small objects in containers creating ice blocks they’ll want to touch.
- Contrast a hot water bottle with a cold compress to feel hot/cold.
- Put a few cotton balls in water and have a few out of water to feel wet/dry, squishy/fluffy.
- Contrast a few pieces of cooked pasta with a few pieces of dry pasta.
- Go outside and touch anything safe to do so.
Use your imagination to help your little one explore your home from all angles and see what wonderful sights and sounds you can find together.
Happy Playing! Angel x
When we're not social distancing, Angel runs classes for babies and toddlers in South Manchester (Sale). She currently has interactive online classes, open to anyone where ever they are, on Wednesdays and Thursdays. For more information visit www.totsplay.co.uk/sale or www.facebook.com/Totsplaysale