Though toddlers are often too young to play organised games, there are many activities that can be done to give toddlers a sensory experience. Sensory activities are used to encourage a young child's development through providing them with opportunities to explore the senses. These activities also benefit those with sensory processing disorders by stimulating the areas to which they have over or under sensitivity.
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A sensory table is an excellent way to give toddlers opportunities to touch various textures. If one is not available, cover a picnic table or small child's table with a plastic tablecloth or use large, plastic bins. Any type of non-toxic material can be placed into a sensory table for exploration. Hide small toys inside the gelatin, water, rice, beans or small pieces of cereal to encourage toddlers to get their hands into the materials. Other sensory activities for touch include placing several different objects in a bag and giving each toddler a turn to feel the contents. Painting with shaving cream or pudding and using modelling clay are also tactile sensory experiences for toddlers.
Toddlers who are learning animal sounds will be delighted to hear them in music. Many kid's songs incorporate animal sounds. Play these songs for your toddler and encourage him to listen for the animals in the music. Ask your child to make different animal sounds or sing "Old MacDonald" with him. Bring out your pots, pans and wooden spoons and let your toddler make his own music. Go on a nature walk and listen for different sounds, or walk through your city and listen for sirens, cars and construction.
Let her push her doll stroller or toy grocery cart filled with toys. Take her to the park and push her on the swings. Vary the movement from side to side and back and forth. Put your toddler in a spinning office chair and slowly spin her around. Play aeroplane, having her spin with her arms out as wings. Roll up your toddler in a blanket to make her a "burrito." Make sure to keep her face uncovered and allow her to "escape" the blanket at will.
Encourage your toddler to smell his food. Before taking bites, tell him to pick up his food and smell it. If he is verbal, ask what he smells. Fruit, peanut butter (if he is not allergic), popcorn and ketchup all have strong, identifiable scents. Find flowers outside and let your child sniff them. Many soaps made for kids have kid-friendly smells. Use these during bath time, giving your toddler a sensory experience in the tub.
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