I ran a home daycare and preschool in my home when my oldest kids were young. We incorporated sensory activities into nearly everything we could. Most days you’d find us playing in “goop” or fishing a variety of things out of our homemade bean table.
Sensory may look like nothing but play but there are endless things that kids can learn from it. We learn through our senses, and using ALL our senses can really get little brains going. Sometimes that means sticking your hand in a bowl full of jello.
Think about it. You could practice counting to ten with your preschooler or you could hide ten little plastic toys in a bean table, sand box, or even a bowl of jello and have him hunt for them one by one, counting as he goes. Which would you rather do?
More importantly, which one do you think your preschooler will remember?
The importance of sensory play really hit home when my second son was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder. He NEEDED that sensory input to understand the world but in the beginning it was torture for him. He screamed if I made him fingerpaint. Slowly, we were able to overcome those challenges and the work we did in his early years has help him to become an amazingly talented and curious (not so) little boy.
One of our favorite sensory activities during my home daycare years was good old corn starch and water . . . affectionally called “goop”.
You’ve probably played with a variation of this during your child. It’s a solid when you squeeze it, a liquid when you don’t. It’s fun to squish around and play in and it can keep preschoolers entertained for hours.
- 2 cups of corn starch
- 1 cup of water
- an imagination
To make “Goop”
Mix the water into your cornstarch by hand and squish until it’s combined. You can prepare this before hand or let your preschooler be the mad scientist and watch it come together.
To store – This will keep for a few days if you keep it covered and in the fridge to prevent mold. The cornstarch will dry out so just add a bit more water when you are ready to play again.
Playing with “Goop”
Your preschooler is sure to figure this one out right away. Just hand over the bowl of “goop” and let your preschooler have at it. You can throw in some little plastic toys or measuring cups for fun — my boys always liked watching plastic army men sink in the “quicksand”.
Get creative and follow your kids’ lead.
Sensory Play as Stress Relief
Sensory play can be a great stress relief for kids. Try making some “goop” or another sensory recipe when your kids are overwhelmed or need some help calming down. The difference you’ll see is amazing!
We haven’t played with corn starch and water for a while so we wanted to introduce my toddler to it. My big kids were still huge fans.
My toddler, not so much.
By the way, I’ve had a few questions about what she is standing in. That’s a Learning Tower and it is a LIFE SAVER in the kitchen when you have toddlers or preschoolers. My toddler refuses to stay in her high chair any more so we use the Learning Tower pushed up next to the kitchen table to keep her safe. You can learn more about the Learning Tower by looking at the full review we did a while back.
She’ll get there though.
And I’m sure there’s lots of sensory play in her future 🙂 What’s your favorite sensory activity for kids?