What is Sensory Play?

Sensory play is an important part of a child's development. It involves engaging their senses through various activities that stimulate touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. By providing sensory play opportunities, parents and caregivers can help children explore and understand the world around them while also developing skills such as hand-eye coordination, problem-solving abilities, and creativity.

Everyday Pantry Items for Sensory Play

You don't need fancy toys or expensive materials to create sensory play experiences for your child. Many everyday pantry items can be repurposed for sensory play. Try some of these ideas:

1. Rice

Rice is a versatile sensory play material. Fill a container with uncooked rice and let your child explore its texture. They can run their fingers through it, pour it, or use small scoops and containers to transfer the rice from one place to another. Add some small toys or objects for an extra element of surprise.

2. Oats

Oats are another pantry staple that can be used for sensory play. Mix oats with water to create a gooey sensory experience. Your child can squish it, mold it, and explore its slimy texture. Add some natural food coloring for a pop of color! 

3. Pasta

Cooked pasta

Pasta comes in fabulous shapes and sizes, making it perfect for sensory play. Cook some pasta and let it cool down. Your child can use their hands to explore the different textures and shapes. Cooked spaghetti is particularly wonderful for squishing and exploring, particularly when coloured with natural food dye!

Uncooked pasta

Pour a cup of uncooked pasta  tube style pasta into a shallow  dish for exploring. Add some pieces of string or pipe cleaners so they can thread and create necklaces or bracelets.

4. Salt

Salt can be used to create all sorts of interesting sensory experiences. Try these ideas:

Salt tray writing

Fill a shallow tray with a layer of salt and encourage your child to practice writing letters, numbers, or drawing patterns and shapes with their fingers. Not only a fabulous sensory activity, it also promotes fine motor skills along with letter, shape and number recognition.

Salt sensory bottles

Add a few drops of food coloring to salt and mix well. Fill clear plastic bottles with layers of different colored salt to create mesmerizing sensory bottles. Children can shake, twist, and observe the swirling colors.

5. Flour

Flour is a fantastic sensory play material that can be used in (often messy) but fun sensory experiences.

Create a moldable dough

Mix flour with water to create a moldable dough. Your child can shape it, squeeze it, and create their own mini sculptures. Add some non-toxic glitter or natural food coloring for an extra sensory element.

Flour sensory bags

l a sealable plastic bag with flour and  Seal the bag tightly and let your child squish and manipulate the contents. This activity is relatively mess-free and perfect for on-the-go sensory play.

6. Spices

Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves have unique scents that can enhance sensory play experiences. Also natural essential oils such as lavender, peppermint and orange essence. Sprinkle some spices or essential oils on playdough or mix them into rice for a sensory exploration of both touch and smells.

7. Ice Cubes

Ice cubes are a simple yet effective sensory play material. Your child can touch, hold, and observe the ice cubes as they melt. Try adding some natural food coloring, herbs or non-toxic flowers to the water before freezing to make the ice colorful and engaging. 

Precautions and Clean-up

Supervision
It goes without saying, always supervise your child during sensory play.
Allergies
Be mindful of any allergies your child may have, for example gluten, and adapt accordingly. 
Cleanup
Sensory play can be messy!  Setup the activity in an easy-to-clean area. Put paper down to protect surfaces if necessary and don't choose a sensory activity that is likely to leave you feeling stressed over the aftermath!

It's Time to Get Started!

Sensory play doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. By using everyday pantry items, you can create fun and engaging sensory experiences for your child. Now that we have given you some exciting ideas, it's time to get started! Remember to have fun, encourage exploration, accept that there will me mess and let your child's imagination and senses soar!

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