What age should you start sensory play?

From birth to early childhood

Sensory games are those activities carried out by the child which work on one or more of the senses: touch, hearing, sight, taste and smell. This will favour a better understanding of their own body and enhance their way of expressing themselves.

Human beings are sensory and acquire understanding through sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste – besides, of course, when we move and carry out some motor or psychic activity. All these points define sensory perception and how it allows us to collect experiences and knowledge, which makes it directly linked to our way of learning from the age of 6 months.

Benefits of sensory play in childhood

Improves cognitive understanding. By manipulating a range of sensory objects, the child understands abstract concepts. This makes learning more fun.

Improves language. Children enjoy themselves during sensory play. They want to tell what they have experienced. Therefore, the practice helps to develop language skills. It strengthens fine motor skills, as these games work a lot with manual skills.

Stimulates the child’s social and emotional skills. In general, the games are played in groups. Soon, those involved learn to share material, respect shifts and do teamwork.

Develops the imagination and creativity. This enables the child to experience new things, to investigate curious things, to discover hitherto unknown things.

From birth to early childhood, children use their five senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them.

What are sensory games for children?

Sensory games for children are used to stimulate and enhance the sensations, not only the 5 bodily senses. Within the scope of neurology, they can be divided into:

  • Somatic sensations which are those that provide information about oneself. Within this group, we can include touch, distinguishing hot from cold, different textures (rough/smooth), or perceiving vibratory movements.
  • Special sensations which serve to gather information about our surroundings. Here the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste or the sense of balance come into play.

Types of sensory games

Let us look at some of the sensory games which are useful for developing children’s different abilities.

Visual sensory games

The purpose of visual sensory games is to develop the sense of sight and improve observation skills. They help to recognise different types of colours and classify different objects according to their characteristics. They also make it possible to discriminate, visually, both positively and negatively.

Auditory sensory games

Aims to develop listening and attention skills. They also associate the sound they hear with a real object.

Tactile sensory games

These allow the child to discover new textures, discriminate and recognise objects by touch. In this way, they can explore new materials that they find in their surroundings and determine, from a very early stage, the risk or benefit that they may bring.

Taste sensory games

Although these are less frequent games, it is also possible to develop activities to develop the ability to taste and recognize new tastes. Not all foods are sweet or salty.

Sensory and gross motor skill games

Most sensory games work on fine motor coordination in the fingers, so that they can better hold the pencil to draw. But there are also others that allow the development of the whole body, such as their legs or arms.

Olfactory sensory games

These are games that allow children to discriminate odours. This helps the child to learn to anticipate certain situations, such as detecting the smell of bad food.

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