Our senses guide us through the world, teaching us about how it works. In the pre-reasoning, early development stage of childhood, our five senses lead.
For this reason, sensory play is a crucial educational support, allowing children to explore the world around them, using their senses.
In adulthood, we use our senses to obtain key information without really thinking about it. We gather the information they provide and then incorporate it into our highly developed reasoning ability, allowing our intellects to sort it all out.
Sensory play is a means of heightening the role of the senses in education and development.
How does it work?
Sensory play implies centering our sense of touch but in truth, this educational support engages all the senses.
Only limited by imagination, sensory play is anything which highlights the information we glean from sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Sensory play also encompasses enhancing movement and balance skills.
As with any type of play, though, sensory play should be tailored to the developmental level of the children you’re engaging. The materials and games employed should take into consideration both ability and age.
Nature is also a teacher in which the senses rule. The touch of the breeze, the sound of the leaves rustling, the colors, textures and smells - these all instruct our senses in nature, the ideal sensory play environment.
Benefits of sensory play
Sensory play encourages children to look more deeply into what they’re experiencing. They confront sensory experiences with a natural need to explore and investigate. Why do these things behave as they do? Why do they make this sound?
Engaging with their senses, children test their hypotheses and draw conclusions about the information being transmitted to their brains by their senses.
Children also learn to categorize sensory information, as their brains absorb and learn which information is important and which, less so.
Children who struggle with hypersensitivity, for example, may be overwhelmed by everything going on around them as they try to play with others. By experiencing their senses in sensory play, children learn which information to focus on (playing with children) and which to ignore (cars and trucks passing, other distracting noises and sensory information).
Texture is a challenge for many children with sensory processing disorder, especially with respect to certain foods. Sensory play can help children with sensory processing, as the play environment is intended to be exploratory. They’re not expected to respond to sensory information in a specific way.
This allows children to foster trust and understanding of textures they may have “blacklisted” by creating pathways in the brain that signal the food texture they’re struggling with is safe and non-threatening.
Sensory play serves to strengthen neural connections in the brain, making way for more robust development of motor skills and stronger development of spoken language.
At the same time, sensory play develops childhood problem solving and encourages them to approach questions from a standpoint of empiricism (observed evidence of the nature of things).
A natural fit
The age of reason comes soon enough but until that age arrives, children use their senses to find out what they want to know about the world they’re experiencing, as they grow.
Sensory play allows children to “do what comes naturally”, enacting their ability to gather information from their senses to draw conclusions about what they’re experiencing. And while all this is going on, children are playing in a way that’s supporting their intellectual and physical development.
Our senses guide us in many ways we rarely think about. Sensory play provides children with a controlled experience of those senses in early development. For children with SPD and other developmental challenges, this style of play is tremendously successful.
Fun Factory Sensory Gym
From concept to installation, Fun Factory Sensory Gym is the only company of its kind in the world that’s both bonded and insured.
We bring you tailored play environments that bring the smiles. Contact us to find out more.
After five years in practice, I decided that I needed to upgrade the look of my office to allow for optimal patient care. Upon researching some possibilities, I came across the Fun Factory Sensory Gym. I immediately called the company to purchase my own gym unit. We scheduled an install date and in three short days, my gym and my vision were complete. My patients and their parents walk in and are amazed at the beautiful and fun set up. I truly feel that my patients are getting the most effective and efficient care because I have the best equipment to address their individual needs. With the Fun Factory Gym equipment, I am able to help these children improve by Leaps and Bounds!
The Kaufman Children’s Center was proud to announce an exciting upgrade made here at the KCC. Over a long weekend in late January 2013, we completed a huge remodel to our sensory gym.
Our Fun Factory Sensory Gym has been life changing for our family! The entire experience of having the FFSG team in our home was so enjoyable. The crew’s heart and soul is behind the work they’re doing. From the first phone call, FFSG was committed to helping our family and our 3 small children with their various special needs. We have already experienced the calming effects of the net swing and the multiple ways the entire gym provides sensory input and regulation for our intense sensory seekers. What a great tool for our family and more than worth the investment!