Oct 14 , 2022
As parents of either young children, or toddlers, we already know they can be messy. No matter where or how, they just find a way to satisfy their needs: jump in the puddle, step into the mud, or try your new (and expensive) face cream in the house.
We don't like it, we try to avoid it and keep them as clean as possible. But where does this need come from, and should it be satisfied?
The need for sensory learning, myth, or actual need?
While that messy play it's not desired by us parents, it is quite a critical learning phase for every child. Each sensory experience involving their senses is an opportunity to learn more about the world around them. By that, they find the courage to challenge their creativity along the way and be more secure in themselves and their actions.
Not to mention some children need even more sensory play than others. Their sensory needs affect their socialization, behavior, and overall development. Check out our article about sensory deprivation to find out more!
How can you facilitate children's sensory experiences?
To prevent an undesired mess, you can plan and offer age-appropriate learning experiences that engage their five sense and investigate while engaging their scientific thinking.
What are the best sensory activities for toddlers?
- Finger painting it's a classic one! Pretty much any kid's paint is safe for chubby fingers to enjoy finger painting. You only need paint and paper. Let their creativity unleash over the white or colored paper.
- Play-dough. It's quite fun, though! You can buy or make one at home (from salt, flour, water, and food coloring). The colored play-dough is a hit among little children, from making simple geometric figures to making animal tracks with any animal toy.
- Bouncing ball all the way! Pretty much everyone has a giant ball around the house, used either for exercising or just for fun. With your help, get them bouncing for as long as they need it.
- Sensory bin, the most "Pinterested" toddler activity of all. The internet is full of exciting ideas for putting together a sensory bin. Basically, you have to fill a container with small items with different textures (from rice to beans and pom poms) that can be moved around with scoops or other things.
- Give it a shake with sensory bottles! Pick any bottle and fill it with either hair gel, oil, water, glitter, food coloring, and some small items (like Lego pieces or small balls). Give it a shake and let their sight be 100% involved.
- The pond or the beach day, all in a bin! It's a hands-on play with these scenarios, all in a container (try to reproduce a scenario from a pond or beach with water, sand, seashells, rubber ducks, or anything that has to do with the specific environment.
- Get them busy with a busy board! Probably the easiest and less messy one, but with all senses involved, the busy board. Done at home or have one bought, like this one, this engages all five senses of your little one. Having a variety of items to explore, otherwise forbidden ones, they play with different textures and sounds, keeping them busy and occupied for long periods.