When we engage in sensory play, we build the small muscles in our hands as we grip and grasp toys, we experiment with cause and effect as we figure out what happens if we throw a handful of sand at our friend or dump it on the floor, and we practice communication skills as we tell about what we’re doing.
And sometimes, the sensory toys we explore are an opportunity to work on conflict resolution as we navigate peer interactions and work on sharing a limited space with friends. When this type of thing comes up, we get to develop problem solving techniques and build social skills too.
When a new item is added to a sensory table, a few things can happen. We could completely lose interest, having played as much as we wanted to play in that particular material. We could be totally engaged, losing all interest in doing other activities provided. We could be slightly intrigued and spend a few minutes checking it out and then move on. Ideally, there’s a middle ground where the new addition brings just enough but not too much excitement.
Today, as we play in our sensory sand table full of construction trucks, we notice that there are new magnet blocks added to the sand and we ask questions like: “Where did you get these blocks from?” and “How do they stick together?” As we talk with our teacher in this way, we show what we know about the world and build conversation and vocabulary skills.