Research studies have shown that children exposed to various sensory training methods, including sensory bins, exhibit considerable improvement in their learning abilities and cognitive function. By letting children explore materials on their own, you are helping them to develop and refine their fine motor, socio-emotional, creative and linguistic skills. These children typically do better in school, have better social interaction, and are generally more prepared for the future.
Key Benefits of Sensory Play:
- Cognition and Problem Solving – Observation of cause and effect through sensory play builds early science skills. As children play they are constantly processing how materials look, smell, feel and sound. They experiment by manipulating the materials in different ways and then draw conclusions based on their own observations. In addition, shape and size recognition, counting and sorting activities aid in the development of early math skills.
- Language Development – Hands on learning through sensory play allows you to help your child understand and define parts of language as well as introduce new vocabulary by teaching them various descriptive terms about how the materials feel and move. For example, the sand is dusty, gritty, dry, it flows or trickles. Children also dive into creative story telling through sensory play as they immerse themselves in the small world provided.
- Socio-Emotional Skills – During cooperative play in a sensory bin, children have the opportunity to practice social interaction. They work out how to share space, negotiate the use of materials, build relationships and learn conflict resolution. Sensory play can also be a very calming activity for many children. It can help them focus and work through difficult emotions such as anxiety through the release of physical energy.
- Fine Motor Skills – By scooping, grasping, pouring, molding and squeezing children are developing their dexterity and hand-eye coordination. These actions all support the development of large and small muscles necessary for dressing, writing and numerous other practical life skills. Sensory bin activities improve focus by allowing your child to be in charge of how to use the materials. There is no reason to get frustrated because there is no right or wrong when it comes to sensory play.
- Creativity and Imaginative Play – Sensory play provides open ended opportunities how your child uses the materials is more important than the end product. Children of all ages and stages of development can use their imaginations to create play scenarios for their people and animal figurines. When your child thinks creatively in order to engage in make-believe, it helps them build self-esteem.