How to have fun with sensory play
I was so excited to get Ayesha Parak-Makada’s book, Sticky Fingers because it contains such a wide variety of child-friendly, sensory play ideas including paint, slime, mud, gloop and playdough.
And the best part is, most of the recipes use kitchen staples as the main ingredients – such as flour and cornstarch, so there’s no need to find extra time to head to the shops. Because they’re so quick and easy to make, I find that I’m hardly ever stuck wondering what to do with Bella on weekends or in the afternoons, because we just grab the book, pick a recipe and off we go.
With a degree in social science and many years’ experience running her playgroup, Mums and Cubs, Ayesha spent countless hours trying and testing every recipe in the book to ensure the texture is right for hours of play. So, you won’t find that the playdough dries out or the paint is too runny, the activities always work well- and I know this, because Bella and I have almost worked our way through the entire book without any glitches!
Why sensory play is so important
Messy play (where children are free to get their hands dirty) is the best way to engage all the senses at once – that’s how children learn about the world around them.
Sensory play, where you involve a whole lot of mess, also helps to stimulate creativity and encourage skill development. For instance, squeezing paint out of a tube is a great fine motor activity, in addition to the act of painting itself.
Studies have shown that messy/sensory activities play a massive role in strengthening neural pathways in children’s brains that are integral in learning and development. So, while you think your child is just making a mess, they’re actually delving into their surroundings and learning how things work, taste and feel. There’s also an element of cause and effect here, so “If I squeeze this, what will happen, or if I pick this up, will it drop,” etc.
To make the activities even more fun:
- You can combine whatever mixture you make, ie. slime or mud, with other toys such as animals or trucks. Or, you can create themes (such as under the sea, or all about blue) to make it more interesting.
- Experiment with the textured playdough recipe – which includes oats, to make the sensory experience even better. We use textured dough to make and mould food items.
- You can add water in warmer months. The other day, Bella and I went outside with our blue Oobleck (a type of gloop) and she used various jugs and cups to add water to the gloop. Of course, it made it even stickier, which made her even happier!
Three of my favourite recipes from the book
The scratch and sniff paint is incredible because it smells amazing and has a light texture so you can use a fine paintbrush or fingers to paint with.
Bella loves playing with the Oobleck – because the cornstarch in the recipe makes it so much fun to play with. It goes from being liquid in the hands to more solid when you leave it for a few minutes. We like to ‘spoon’ ours into moulds.
If your kids are too young to bake with you, but they still like to get involved, I find that the ‘chocolate mud’ works well because you’re combining things like flour, water and cocoa powder into a bowl, which is easy for little ones to help with. Plus, they get to play with it immediately without having to wait for anything to be baked in the oven.
If you’d like to know more about Sticky Fingers, visit their Facebook page here.
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Call: 078 802 6660