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Helping your child get in touch with their senses

Early learning

Following on from our previous article on the benefits of sensory play, here are some great play ideas for sensory play that are fun and easy to do at home.

All of these sensory play activities are designed to stimulate your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing.
Sensory play ideas to get you started

Creating sensory boxes or exploration tubs, using everyday household items such as cooked and uncooked rice, wet and dry spaghetti, shaving foam, goop, sand to hide small plastic objects in. By completing an activity like this at home you’re encouraging your child to have fun in a safe environment with different textures. Further enhance this experience through commenting about how it feels, smells, looks without judgement. “The spaghetti is wet and sticky, does it feel wet and sticky on your hands, let’s play with it some more”. Encouraging children to be able to describe the elements to the different textures and gain greater exposure in a positive environment to these textures/ objects.  


Creating ‘sharing platters’ at mealtimes. Afternoon tea is perfect for exploring the sense of taste. Cut up a selection of fruits, vegetables and other foods that you may like your child to try. Give your child two plates, a tasting plate and a finished plate. Together, you can try the different foods with no pressure to actually eat the food. We might simply kiss the pineapple or give it a lick then describe how it tastes. “WOW, that pineapple was so sour, it tickled my tongue, I’m going to give it another lick, did your pineapple tickle your tongue?” If the child has had enough of the food you can encourage them to simply put it on their finished plate. “All finished, let’s try a different food!” Remembering the goal of this activity is to explore the different foods.  


Playing with different scents from the garden, fresh herbs are perfect for exploring the sense of smell. Creating conversations with your child about the different smells and what they are like. Then smell the differences between them such as peppermint, lavender, basil or parsley.  

Sight (see)

Playing spotlight games with the torch at night time, encouraging your child to spot different objects around the room. You can also play games outside during the day to observe the natural sunlight and the shadows it creates.  

Sound (listen)

Changing the tone and volume of your voice when playing with your child, for example, whispering when telling a story to encourage your child to adapt to how they listen to what you’re saying.  

Vestibular (balance):

 Encouraging your child to spin, swing, and bounce on different equipment at home or at the local park. Talking to your child about how that makes them feel.  Perception (where our body is in space)

 Activities which encourage heavy work and the use of large muscles and joints for your child, For example wheelbarrow walks, large frog jumps or bottom slides.  
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