When I first saw/heard of sensory play for toddlers, I wondered what the big deal was. I mean, the buckets of rice, lentils, sand, and little things looked cool and interesting but I didn’t really know why so many moms were into this. And then I had my own toddler.
I tried my first sensory bucket with Mr. Monkey, and he was instantly impressed and played with it for a long time. It was a winter themed one, with white rice, foam snow flakes and pieces of glitter paper. He scooped and poured, grabbed fistfuls of rice and explored the contents of his bucket. Sensory play is good for children to learn through touching different textures. It also helps them practice their fine motor skills. This was especially evident when Mr. Monkey was learning to use a spoon; in his sensory bucket he could move the contents from one cup to another using a spoon, and he could learn to pour and direct the flow of the contents, without making a big mess, they way he would while eating.
Best of all, he plays with his sensory bucket for a good half-hour without getting bored. It keeps his attention a lot longer than most other activities.
Here is a sensory bucket that I made for him, which is ocean-themed:
In this bucket there is:
-Blue rice (it is so easy to colour rice. This blog shows you how).
-Seashells. These are seashells that I collected on our trip to Florida.
-Clear “gem” -type of rocks from the dollar store
I added in there some measuring cups and little plastic spoons and cups and let Mr. Monkey play with it. I always have him play with a sensory bucket in the kitchen. I first set part of a shower curtain on the floor and then place his bucket on top. He has been taught to keep the rice in the bucket, and he’s pretty good at keeping it contained, however, some rice does spill. The shower curtain makes clean up much easier because I just pour the rice off the curtain back into the bucket at the end of the session.
Although here he’s examining the little treasure chest, I find that he mostly likes to play with the rice, by scooping and pouring it. He’s not very interested in the little figurines yet. Maybe when he’s a bit older and his imagination is more developed he will play with them more.
What do you think of sensory play?