“Sensory play” may seem complicated but it is really just another way of saying “messy play”.
Sensory play can be any activity that stimulates a child’s touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. They can be activities like sensory bins and playing with materials like dough or rice.
Sensory play may sometimes seem like a hassle to clean up and organise, but it is extremely important for a growing tot’s wellbeing and development.
To learn more about sensory play and see how young children benefit from it, check out the various ways in which MindChamps PreSchool @ Holland Village incorporates this into their daily lessons.
Sensory play helps in memory retention
Sensory play helps children become more aware of themselves and their growing bodies, as they use their senses to explore and construct knowledge about the world around them. By engaging their senses, they make stronger connections and develop a deeper understanding to better retain the information.
MindChamps Holland Village provides learning opportunities for children by actively using their senses, such as letting them touch and feel objects in order to build nerve connections in their brain’s pathway. The nerve connections support the children’s ability to engage in more complex learning tasks.
For example, during a Mandarin lesson for the Nursery Two kids, the teacher introduced Chinese characters to the kids. To help them better understand the structure of the character, the kids practised the stroke in coloured sand and natural materials. They also formed the character with playdough or natural materials like pinecones or small wooden blocks.
Adapting and learning how to deal with new situations
Through handling different objects in different settings, children will be exposed to new ways of play. They will be able to differentiate different situations and create something new of their own.
Teachers at MindChamps Holland Village give the kids the freedom to explore and construct their own understanding of waterplay materials. They also intentionally limit the number of materials to create sharing opportunities among the kids.
Sharpening their motor and cognitive skills
Understanding new concepts through sensory play also hones the kids’ cognitive skills. Through handling materials, they will learn to understand different concepts and develop their motor skills. Being involved in hands-on activities helps to stimulate their senses and improves their hand-eye cognition as well.
For example, the Nursery Two kids were tasked with constructing their definition of a “mini beast” with playdough and were encouraged to add detail to their creations. They displayed their developing fine motor skills as they produced intricate details by engaging in actions such as rolling, pinching and sculpting the playdough.
Gaining confidence for what they have learnt in preschool in Singapore
Exploring with their senses also trains kids to have more faith in their own intuition. With guidance, the kids will learn to take pride in their work and present it to the class.
During the minibeast activity, the teachers challenged the kids to document their understanding by creating their own minibeasts with playdough. The children then had to present their findings to the class, and they all showed confidence in sharing their own ideas and thoughts. The teachers also observed that kids were using terms like thorax and abdomen, which displayed their growing vocabulary.
Kids explore at their own pace at MindChamps Holland Village
At MindChamps PreSchool @ Holland Village, teachers tailor sensory play activities to both the kids’ personality and to provide them with a head start for the primary school curriculum.
During sensory play, children are allowed to explore at their own pace. Teachers merely scaffold their learning, helping them to think in multiple perspectives. At times, depending on their objectives, they may re-direct a child or prompt him or her to try out something new by asking open-ended questions.
Sensory play taps many areas of a child’s growing brain – memory, interpersonal, cognitive and motor skills. Through sensory play lessons, they are able to grow both physically and mentally in their own time – with their teachers motivating and providing structure during the children’s journey.
Written by Steffi Wee