The importance of sensory play was first introduced to me when one of my children was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In fact, SPD is so common that I’m sure I have it, and there is a good chance you or someone you know does too However, today we’re talking about sensory play which benefits everyone, not just those with SPD.
Sensory play is a crucial part of development for small children but is often overlooked. That is why I wanted to focus on some of my favorite sensory play ideas and also some of my favorite brands that specialize in sensory play for children. The women that run these companies are also going to give their expert opinions on this topic! Enjoy! (Also read carefully because we have a pretty awesome giveaway happening!)
1. busybagFun Etsy shop was created by owner Gina Richter in an attempt to get sensory and “busy” games into the hands of children around the nation.
IANTB Perk: Use the code SENSORY15 to get 15% off your entire order from the store! This is also a giveaway! Winner will receive the seed sorting set (pictured below)!
“Children learn through play. They touch, smell, listen, taste and observe as they experience new materials. When the whole child is enveloped in play they are making sense of their world. They are problem solving and thinking creatively. They are developing their oral language skills and fine motor skills. It is one thing to read a book about how seeds grow. It’s another to have a child explore seeds, crack them open, sort them, plant them and make predictions about the outcomes. Children will retain more from these types of hands-on experiences that engage the senses.
This seed sorting activity allows children to explore the world of plants. As children look closely at the seeds they will see slight differences between the seeds, they will question and wonder. They may want to take a few of the seeds and plant them in the garden or take a trip to the farmer’s market to find the fruit where the seeds came from. Children will feel, smell, look and listen while exploring the world of plants.
This activity was thoughtfully created by Gina Dehner, a kindergarten teacher and owner of busybagFUN on Etsy. Visit her shop to see other activities for toddlers and preschoolers at www.etsy.com/shop/busybagFUN.”
2. MessyPlayKits shop allows for kids to get messy! As many parents are doing their best to keep their kids clean, shop owner Robin explains below why that isn’t necessarily what is best for our child’s development.
IANTB Perk: Use the code IANTB16 and receive a FREE Oobleck Single with any purchase. Age range: All Messy Play Kits (the bigger boxes) are for ages 3+. Toddler products available- Oobleck Single and the Handprint Single (both safe for any age).
“Children learn best when they actively engage with their environment and use all their senses. Young children are in a very concrete stage of development- they need to SEE and FEEL their world in order to understand it. By engaging in sensory play combined with skilled adult partners, they learn about a variety of textures, materials, and properties in the concrete manner they understand best.
That’s straight from the about section on my website: messyplaykits.com/about. I go into more detail about what children learn through Messy Play, and I add that information in each kit as well. As they’re doing the activities in my kits, they will learn about what specific skills their children are developing and learning through these types of activities- such as strengthening fine motor control by pinching pipettes, learning about material properties and simple chemical reactions, creativity, simple math concepts, social-emotional development (from self-help skills, the power of making choices and having creative freedom, etc). Lots of good stuff! I’m a huge fan of sensory play, as you can tell! :)”
3. iPlayHandmade is both visually striking and FUN shop that specializes in sensory play and SPD resources.
IANTB Perk: Use the code SENSORYPLAY10 to receive 10% off your purchase! We also have a giveaway! The winner will receive a $25 store credit!*
“Sensory activities provide children with additional input via taste, smell, touch, sights, and sounds during play. Play with mediums like dry beans, pasta, or rice can be transferred into practical skills like pouring and scooping. Searching for hidden items such as letters, colors, shapes, or numbers in a sensory bin brings on a fun, less structured approach to learning. This form of open-ended play broadens children’s interactions and responses to stimuli within their environment. Sensory play offers a simple way to transform a basic learning opportunity into an engaging one for both parent and child. “
4. Amber started 3BlueFireFlies to address her own children’s SPD needs. Her sensory sacks are such a hit in my house that my kids will sometimes sleep in them! The sacks are fit to your child’s size and they even come in adult sizes!
IANTB Perk: This is a giveaway! Amber is giving away one sensory sack of your choosing!*
“We have three children with Sensory Processing Disorder. One who seeks and seeks out sensory stimulation, one who avoids it like the plague, and one who is like Goldilocks- not too much, not too little- it must be just right.”
“Our biggest discovery as parents of children with SPD has been that each child is really different in how they process incoming information.”
“Addressing Sensory Processing Disorder is really about tuning in to your child, watching for their particular sensory triggers, and then experimenting with therapies and support tools to see what helps them.”
“Each child has their own threshold of sensory input. As such, they each have needed their own sensory plan customized to meet their individualized needs.”
5. The Kitchen Witch is an Etsy store that creates the most amazing non-toxic sensory stimulators for children an adults. My boys and I are in love with her sensory dough, even bringing it on long car rides to keep us relaxed.
IANTB Perk: This one is a giveaway! Andie is giving away the set of four sensory dough “flavors” and a sensory wool ball for one lucky winner.
“I could go on and on about sensory play! Little ones discover the world with ALL of their senses and every touch smell taste is a learning opportunity! Humans naturally gravitate to earthy materials – wood, wool, etc. They are the perfect first textures for a little person getting to know our world. The sensory dough is great because there are no rules, no patterns, just the child’s sense of creativity. The essential oils in the 4 different doughs were specifically selected to work together to enhance creativity and a sense of calming focus. Works like a charm everytime. :)” -Andie
6. Michelle Bailey from ImagineImagineToys makes the most beautiful Story Stones! I’ve personally been inspired by Michelle’s personal journey of how sensory play has helped her grandson during chemo.
IANTB Perk: This is a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a story stone set of your choice in addition to all the other giveaways listed in this article!*
“My grandson would not be as advanced In Coming out of the operation if it were not for my story stones and story spoons.. They helped him with his motor skills and even speech. As after the op to remove the tumour he was left unable to do the simple things he would normally do on a daily basis…” -Michelle
7. GemsfromBefore creates beautiful heirloom wooden pieces for sensory play. It’s also set with beeswax polish, so there is no need to worry about toxic stains or products on the wood (although they are not meant to be teethed on, especially with rice play).
IANTB Perk: Use the code JAMIEGRUMET for 15% off all items in this store! This is also part of our bundle giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a 16 piece wooden scoop set!*
“Iam definitely not a Pinterest mom. Many of the things I do, I do because they are convenient and make my life easier. Sensory play was a simple way to incorporate guided play (meaning it’s initiated by the parent and directed by the child), which sometimes kept my son entertained for 5 minutes or up to an hour! It fosters creativity and imagination. It promotes hand eye coordination and most importantly, it’s fun. To make things easy on myself, we used sand, mud, water and the messiest mediums outside and preferred beans, noodles and sometimes rice inside, always on the kitchen floor where it took 2 minutes to sweep up and throw it all into a self contained plastic bin. Find a medium that works best for you and then change up the play by adding various sensory tools. Just about anything can be a sensory tool. Of course my favorites are the wooden pieces in my ‘Gems From Before’ sensory set. But I love adding gems, stones and twigs which are easy to attain, beautiful to look at and wonderful to touch.” -Jodi
*Winner will receive bundle of all giveaways listed in this post. which includes 16 set scoop set, story stone set, felt ball and sensory dough, seed sorting set and a sensory sack! Comment below to enter. Share on Facebook and comment again letting us know you did for an additional entry!
Winner will be announced Friday, September 2, 2016 at 10:00 Pacific Time.
Important! Winner must be in the US only and you must contact our Facebook page in a private message to claim your prize. If you don’t reach out to us in 24 hours, we will choose another winner!
And the winner is….Amanda A!
Please send a private message to our Facebook Page within 24 hours.