It is no coincidence that babies first put everything in their mouths, since mouthing, tasting and sucking take in an extraordinary amount of information. As they gain motor control, toddlers are notorious for touching everything in sight. Given this propensity toward physical engagement with the world, young children learn best when they are given freedom to explore with all of their senses.
Below is a list of Merage JCC early childhood educators’ favorite sensory activities. Get creative, touch and explore with your little one—the possibilities are endless!
Chocolate Play Dough
Many homemade recipes are available online. Look for one made with margarine or vegetable oil and you won’t have to worry if the dough goes into mouths. Chocolate play dough smells sweet and yummy, feels soft, is moldable, and with some bowls, cups and sand toys makes for a fun and creative activity.
Floral Hydro Beads
For a fun, supervised activity with your child, check out the local 99 Cents Only store for floral beads. When soaked in water they become slippery. Gel beads that engage even adults. You can keep various bowls and vessels filled with water and beads. Children can spend hours playing and transferring the beads amongst containers. Nothing is better than a slimy mess for sensory fun!
Who knew spaghetti could take on such vivid hues? Cook spaghetti noodles in water infused with lots of food coloring. Rinse and cool and mix with a splash of olive oil to prevent sticking. More slimy fun for you and your child to investigate.
Mix it Up
Exchanging materials, liquids, spaghetti, hydro beads, etc…, from container to container is fascinating to young children. Have lots of containers on hand, whether they are recycled plastic food containers, measuring cups, buckets, molds, etc. Funnels are always a favorite. _
Lisa Monette has worked with children for over 15 years, she is the Director of the Sheila and Eric Samson Family Early Childhood Center at the Merage JCC. Contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.