All of our senses are super important- they’re how we communicate with the world, and observe what’s around us.
One of the biggest reasons that kids need playtime is that physical activities help kids learn about the world around them. Playtime gives a wide range of sensory stimulation that enhances a child’s development- this is called experience dependent plasticity.
Playtime isn’t just for fun- it grows a child’s mind!
For kiddos who struggle with sensory input, play time can get a bit trickier. Whether a child is a sensory seeker, or a sensory avoider, play time can get overwhelming.
Every child deserves some fun ways that they can relieve stress and have fun, while playing and learning.
Today, we wanted to share a wide variety of different activities that kids with sensory challenges can love- and, get a ton of benefit from.
Let’s just start by saying the obvious- play-dough is pretty fun even when you’re an adult. Who hasn’t played with their child’s play-dough when they weren’t around?
Play-dough is one of the best ways for a child to develop their hand-eye coordination, while also using their imagination. With unlimited possibilities for creating, and very little ability to cause a big mess or break anything, it’s a perfect option.
Sensory seekers will love being able to fidget, squeeze, smack, hit, and do whatever they want to the play-dough, and sensory avoiders will still enjoy the freedom to use it- and not use it, in the case that it overwhelms them.
If your child is an oral sensory seeker, you can even take things a step further with edible play-dough! We wouldn't recommend telling them to eat it, or you might have a kid chowing down on $50 of play-dough per week… Which just doesn’t help anyone. Nevertheless, it’s a good safe option that helps them explore their sense of taste, as well as touch.
Play-dough is a fun, versatile toy that can give the highest level of tactile stimulation. It’s also very unique in the sense that, with play-dough, kids can play by themselves, or with others!
Spending some quality time together in the kitchen can be just what you and your kid need!
Let’s explain what’s so awesome about baking.
Depending on what your kiddo is helping you with, baking is one of very few activities that can help a child have fun, while stimulating and developing all five senses at once!
We recommend making cookies with some eggless, safe-to-eat, raw cookie dough.
The child will stimulate their senses of:
- Touch, by using a dull butter knife to cut off a piece of dough, and then mold it into the shape they want.
- Smell, by the scent of dough being taken out of the wrapping, and again while cooking
- Taste, by licking or eating the dough before and after cooking
- Sound, by opening the cookie dough wrapper and crinkling it
- Sight, by coordinating with their hands to shape the dough, and watching how it shifts in the oven
A bit of safe time in the kitchen can be a lot of fun, and help them learn all 5 senses while feeling accomplished. Just beware of post-cookie sugar hype!
3. Electric Piano
Everyone loves music!
A piano is a very unique instrument. Besides being fun and safe to play with, it provides a ton of awesome development opportunities, for kids with sensory difficulties.
By playing with different keys and making different noises, they’ll learn cause-and-effect, and have a ton of fun finding new sounds and tunes they can play.
We don’t recommend letting your child play with a $400,000 antique ivory grand piano- but, a nice simple cheap electric piano can give them all the fun in the world, while helping develop their musical skills, and their sense of hearing more broadly..
It’s an all-out stimulation for touch and sound, with a bit of sight too! This exercise can be great with themselves, or with an audience- or even a friend. You can sit next to them and play at one end, while they play at the other end!
Twister! Always a fun party game.
This is a great activity for groups- although it could work with just one other person, if you really want it to.
Twister is a fun game that build social skills, communication, and provides a ton of visual and physical stimulation. On top of that, it’s a lot of exercise- and can often leave a kid tired, and ready for a nap.
Twister is great for parties with other kids, or just a game night with the family!
Dancing is another awesome activity that all of us love. A child with sensory trouble can have a great time!
Similar to baking cookies, dancing is an all-out stimulation of all the senses (except taste), especially sound, when you put on some music for them. Get wild, and have fun!
Just make sure you’re nowhere that things can get broken, and let your kid really unwind, and express themselves to their favorite music.
Dancing is an intense physical exercise, which is great for your kid’s health, as well as a social and even creative activity. It stimulates their hearing, sight, balance, motor skills, rhythm, and more! Just put on their favorite music- or, let them listen to their own music in private, and have fun dancing with the Earbuddies!
All children deserve a fun, safe way to play and develop. Playtime is critical for the development of a child’s cognition, social skills, and senses.
For a kiddo with sensory challenges, playing in conventional ways isn’t always easy… But, with a bit of creativity, there’s always a way to have some safe, developmental-friendly fun!
Being a sensory parent isn’t always easy- but it’s super rewarding when you find ways to have fun with your child, while developing their minds and building a bond.
Let’s embrace different!