A sensory activity is any activity focused on incorporating and engaging the senses. Sensory activities are an essential part of infant and toddler development as they help young children to discover and develop a knowledge of their bodies and how they relate to and retain knowledge of their world. While on some level any activity requires use of the senses, a good sensory activity should engage your child's mind as well as his senses.
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Sensory Bin or Table
Sensory bins and tables are designed to give toddlers a variety of tactile and auditory experiences. A good example of a sensory bin is a shallow tub filled with dried beans or lentils, with a variety of tools and toys that a toddler could use to scoop the beans and play with them. This gives the toddler interesting tactile input, engaging him as he explores how the beans sound and feel as he manipulates them in the bin. A sensory table might incorporate a number of different textures or sounds, such as crinkly tissue paper, sand, squishy play dough or a dish of water and a sponge. While not appropriate for infants, this is a great sensory activity for a toddler.
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There's no better sensory activity for both infants and toddlers than giving them a bath. The feeling of water and washcloth on their skin and the sound of the splashing, along with your touch, make bath time a wonderful incorporation of many senses. As your infant moves into the toddler stage, adding bubbles and toys to the bath can add another layer of sensory activity to bath time.
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It's never too early to instil a love of music in your child.To make a sensory activity out of listening to music, find music that you and your child can interact with. Songs like "Head and Shoulders" or "Ring Around the Roses" engage both the sense of hearing and prompt interaction with the song's lyrics. If you're a musician, playing an instrument and singing to your children can be a great way of building their appreciation for music and engaging their senses.
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When possible, move sensory activities outdoors. The sounds and sights in nature pique the natural curiosity of any child, and their senses will be attuned to the various inputs around them. Let your infant explore the feeling of grass on his feet or point out the way his shadow moves with him, or do an outdoor activity like bubbles or sidewalk chalk with your toddler. There are endless ways to get your child to engage with nature.