• Nicola Hanson

Adapting to guidance around sensory-play resources

We have been working closely with our Children’s Centre partners and nurseries as we adapt to the ever-changing COVID-19 guidance and changes needed. One of the major differences in provision has been around sensory play. You may be surprised to know that, for safety reasons, children are discouraged from sharing resources like sand and playdough, water play activities have been suspended and outdoor sensory play areas are no longer accessible in many settings. You are probably reading this because you are already well aware of the benefits of sensory play for child development; it supports problem-solving, physical development, independence and creativity, imagination and brain development.

All areas of learning are improved by sensory play which is why access to things like sand trays and water tables have been a basic provision in schools for as long as anyone can remember.

Some parents are put off sensory play as it can be messy and parents often feel they do not have the resources but, as opportunities in settings become more limited, now is the best time to encourage sensory, open ended play at home:

Some cheap and easy ideas:

Get out in the garden!

Dig around in the soil

Collect petals, leaves and twigs

Water the plants.

Try some really simple water play (in the bath, sink or in bowls).

You can add colour,

scent and textures using leaves or flowers, food colouring or spices.

Explore rice or pasta in a bowl with scoops, spoons and sieves. Children love to pour and fill containers like small cups and used yoghurt pots.

Explore food in a sensory way; this is particularly good for reluctant eaters.

Try to include bitter and sour tastes too - citrus fruits are great for this!

Combine shaving foam with food colouring or paint to explore mixing, swirling and creating patterns. Add glitter for a sparkly effect.

Doing this in a ziplock bag saves on mess and allows your child to play with it over and over again!

Experiment with shredded paper, flour, cornflour and water to make doughy mixtures, great for sticky fingers!

All of these activities allow for open-ended play. In early years settings, many resources now have to be disposed of at the end of each session, and certain activities can no longer take place due to risk of contamination. Funds normally used for resources have had to be diverted elsewhere, which is why parents, practitioners and organisations need to work together to ensure that this generation does not miss out on the play opportunities we have always taken for granted.

Follow our social media for more ideas on what you can do at home!

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