I love to walk in the rain, eat tangy pickled turnips, smell flowers and feel mud between my toes. Just like us, children experience their world through their senses.
I have been doing a bit of reading about the Montessori method of teaching children, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori.
Maria Montessori believed that sensory experiences begin at birth. Through senses, the child/baby is learning and beginning to understand their environment. We all know that the first few years of a child’s life are the most important years for brain development, so it is important to let your grandchildren have experiences that use all of their senses. And a gung ho grandma can help with that!!
One of the easiest ways to do sensory play is using what I call Container Play. And it is so simple to do!
Putting the materials in container, like a cookie sheet, a plastic tub or even a small plastic swimming pool, allows you to keep the play to a small area and contain the mess. If you use a container with a lid, it will allow you to save it for another day or transport it to another location.
It is also a good idea to put a cut-up garbage bag or old shower curtain under the play if you want easy cleanup (and if they get too messy, your grandchild may need to be put in the tub afterwards with some bubbles for more sensory play!).
** Since we are dealing with small children, you should definetely stay and play and talk to your grandchild as they explore. No one wants a popcorn kernel being put in an ear or up a nose, or having a young child choke on a noodle if you leave the room.
Container Play in Action
I was just visiting one of my sweet grandchildren last week, and we did some Container Play together. All I did was get a cookie sheet and on it I placed 2 bowls filled with popcorn kernels, some scoops, spoons and cups. Then I just let my grandson explore and have fun. He decided to also bring in some toy cars and trucks into the play (he is obsessed with machines of any kind) and he played for about 25 minutes with the kernels. He also just enjoyed using his bare hands to fill containers … this sensory play was a hit!!
You can use a variety of substances for sensory play:
- tubs of water (and you can add some food coloring to it for extra pizzaz). You may want to do this in the backyard on the grass, in a small plastic swimming pool, at the kitchen sink, or in the bathtub
- dried oatmeal (or add some water to it to make it sticky and squishy)
- dried cereal, like Cheerios, Rice Krispies or puffed wheat (and know that they will be eating some of these)
- sand (you can also go to a park that has sand or put some in containers outside)
- cooked spaghetti or Ramen noodles (and they can certainly put them in their mouths)
- minature marshmallows
- homemade slime (Click HERE for a simple recipe diyncrafts.com)
- smaller rocks
- shredded paper (I bring some home from my office)
Include objects in their sensory play containers such as:
- plastic cups in different sizes
- spoons and scoops
- toy animals
- toy cars and trucks
- pipe cleaners and sticks
- small empty boxes, like Jello boxes
- toy shovels
- small toy people
- large kitchen utensils like whisks, spatulas and tongs
- small pompom balls
- building blocks
The ideas are as endless as your imagination … just hunt around your house to find even more possibilities!
So get those containers out grandma, and let the exploring begin! Leet us know how it goes in the comments below!