Sensory Play: More Than Meets the Eye

Hi, friends! I hope that you are safe and happy wherever you are while reading this! 

Today, I hope to shed some light on a topic that seems to be all the rage right now: sensory play! On any given day, my Instagram feed is bombarded with colorful, fun pictures of fellow OTs, mothers, and homeschoolers engaging in sensory play. Brightly colored rice, beans, water, ice, scented play dough—you’ll see it all. 

But, what IS sensory play? Why is it so important? And why is everyone doing it?

Over my next few posts, I hope to shed some light on the topic, while providing you with easy sensory activities for home. 

As humans, we have 5 senses that are well-known: sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound. But, did you also know that we have THREE other senses? That’s right—8 in total. These additional senses include: proprioception (knowing where your body is in space), vestibular sense (related to the functions of the inner-ear and affecting balance), and interception (knowing what is happening on the inside of your body with your internal organs, i.e., hunger, needing to void, etc.). 

With all of these different senses, and their myriad of functions, it’s no wonder that so many have jumped onto this sensory play train! Helping your little ones to develop their senses can be very easy. Think about what all they may need to touch in a day, eat in a day, hear in a day, see in a day, and then focus on activities that encourage the use of those senses. Let them jump, spin, bounce, and dance to encourage proprioception and vestibular sense. 

One very easy activity at home is creating your own sensory bin! Pour some dried rice or beans into a bin. Add some spoons, scoops, cups, and other small manipulatives (animals, letters, etc.), and let them go to town! Dyeing the rice and beans can add an extra layer of fun, as well as, encourage verbal communication (“Look at the red rice! What else can you find that is red??”) 

And, if you notice that your little one is REALLY struggling with any one of these senses, I highly encourage you to speak with their pediatrician, and to seek out your favorite neighborhood OT for additional help (wink, wink).

Finally, head on over to my Facebook page (CAMP Therapy Center) or Instagram (vanessa.halter_ot) for more ideas/education regarding our senses and sensory play. Play on, friends!

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