Sensory play doesn't need special materials
Sometimes I sit and see people putting up posts about special sensory activities that they have created for thier children and I start to feel a bit of a lesser mum as I haven't really done "special" activities with M, involving as much mess as possible and loads of preparation.
I have started to wonder if I am disadvantaging M by not making colourful spaghetti, or making slime baths but then I think about all the sensory things that children feel everyday yet no-one seems to include these as sensory experiences.
Sensory play is about stimulating the senses to help a child learn about the world, so giving different experiences of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.
Touch seems to be the one that people love making activities for, normally creating mess and making me have a heart attack about what a mess my carpets could turn into but things don't have to be made for a child to have fun.
Petting animals - Animals have different types of fur so allowing a child to gently pet an animal allows them to feel fur!
Play on the carpet, tiles, linoleum, grass, concrete, mud... Again the child can feel so many different surfaces just be travelling round the house. Whilst you are going round the house why not let them feel toilet roll, towels, wooden tables, shower curtains, teddybears, shoes, coats etc. Loads of different feelings that can be discussed and described to them whilst they do it.
If you are doing washing up let them join in. Whether that is to play in the bubbly water, dry the dishes, wipe down countertops, clean their tray on the high chair they get to feel different materials from bubbles to dusters. Wet and dry. Soft or slimy.
Almost all toys around the house have sensory activities on them, whether advertised or not. You can smooth hard plastic, wood, bumpy bits, smooth bits, pointy bits, metal bits and so on. All different feels.
Oh and dinner time is a perfect way to allow your child to have sensory play, get messy and feel so many different textures and temperature. So that is three meals a day plus snacks that are all sensory activities.
You can of course have sensory play with books that have touch and feel bits also.
When you leave the house and go for a walk, or play in the garden you are having sensory play. The pram has textures, or the baby carrier. You can stop and touch walls, fences, flowers, trees. You can play in the swings, the chute, the roundabout all with different materials from rubber to metal to plastic.
Go into a darkened room and put the light on and off. Or make shadows on the wall. Let your child play with a torch and let them see what happens when they cover it with their hand.
Play with a ball, this lets them use their eyes to throw where they want it and catch.
Get objects of different colours, put them into colour piles and let them explore the colours. Or get a lot of different objects of the same colour. Have special colour days when you only have piles of yellow toys, or red toys.
Are you painting with your child? Then you are having sensory play.
Use a mirror and let your child play with it themselves.
On a walk talk about the colours of the cars that you see.
Is there a rainbow outside? Then you have sensory play.
This is a very easy one which can be done at any time, just turn on the radio and listen to music. You can discuss loud and quiet.
Use pans as drums, or play with an musical instruments that you have in the house. Let them knock on doors, windows, metal boxes.
Discuss animal sounds and make the noises, or if you are out and about and see sheep or cows in the field you can listen to them make noises.
Listen to cars, motorbikes, lorries, buses. Listen out for sirens or horns or bike bells.
Smell is everywhere. From the perfume you have on to the smells if the dinner.
Smell flowers when you are out for a walk or if you have some on display in the home (you lucky thing).
This is another easy one and simply is a case of just having dinner. Try new vegetables or fruits. Taste has been happening from the minute the baby could taste in the womb and is constantly being explored when it is time to eat (or just put things in their mouth when teething).
Have different textures of foods, different sizes, different flavours. Never be scared to let your child explore with food just make sure it is safe for them first.
Not one thing here has been bought special, nothing has cost anything and still you are allowing your child to have fun, learn and have sensory play. You do not even need to leave the house to ensure you have loads of sensory activities available for your child at all times without having to make up different messy activities.