Special Educational Needs
Why Sensory Play Is So Important For Nursery And Preschool Children
Sensory play are activities that stimulate any of the children’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing and the less spoken about, vestibular and proprioception.
There are many engaging sensory play activities that can bring countless benefits to children attending nursery and preschools. Children can develop their thinking, language, social, emotional and physical skills as they explore and discover the materials and the world, around them.
Sensory play contributes towards the improvement of many important early skills, which is why we believe it is a very beneficial activity that should be promoted in nurseries and preschools through numerous, stimulating activities.
Why Is Sensory Play So Important in Nursery?
Children in nursery and preschool are at the age where they are continually exploring and processing everything they can see, hear and what others do to help make sense of the big world around them.
Sensory play is so important in nursery for this reason, amongst others.
It is also a stimulating activity that can help enrich children’s learning outdoors and heighten their senses.
Open-ended sensory play should be supported in nurseries and preschools to enhance children’s skills and help support their school readiness development as it is a stimulating, exciting activity that can encourage children to experience and enjoy learning.
Additionally, some children enter nursery quite nervous or anxious at being in a new setting, away from mum and dad. Delving into an exciting, sensory activity, children become calmer and more open to others around them: a fantastic activity for those first few weeks.
Problem Solving Skills
Sensory play can strengthen neurodevelopment and improve children’s memory as they play with different objects and try to complete tasks in different ways. In addition, it helps children’s co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills as they use various actions to engage in the activity.
Sensory play equipment, such as our Water Wall, allows children to explore more than just the liquid substance they can dip their hands in. Children can manipulate the channels the water flows down to change the course and work out how they can ensure it lands in the bucket rather than on the floor.
As they move the channels around, they can gain the ability to complete more complex learning tasks as they explore why the water flows down the wall, and not up it, or attempt to make the water wheel spin faster or slower by experimenting with releasing different amounts of water.
Participating in this exciting activity allows children to learn more about co-operation and turn taking as they work together, or on their own, to swap and change the channels: pulling them out from the wall and moving the dowels to other holes in the wall – supporting gross motor skills development and hand to eye coordination, too!
With water play equipment, children can learn new things about the texture and even learn to describe it as they enrich their language. Why is water wet? Is the water warm or cold today? Why do you think it’s warm or cold? How can we warm the water up?
Communication, Language and Social Skills
Sensory play activities are fantastic for more than just heighten children’s sense. They can delve into the world of messy play equipment and tuff spot table activities to improve their vocabulary, speech, social and cooperation skills!
For example, different shapes acting as the treasure buried at the bottom of the Sand Box for children to discover is an excellent way to encourage speech and vocabulary. Children can be asked to talk about the shapes they find and the texture of the sand as they further their vocabulary.
Not only does sensory play such as digging in a sand box enrich language, it also promotes fine motor development as children use small actions to manipulate and move the sand to find the shape they’re looking for.
Providing children with loose play resources, such as spades and rakes, can help gross motor skills, too, as they use big actions to move the sand and dig into the golden substance.
Co-operation, social skills and turn taking can be further developed as the children take turns to find a buried shape and share the treasure with one another, improving important skills needed for primary school.
Small world play can be further enhanced as children transport themselves onto a golden beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore as they seek out the abandoned treasure the pirates left behind.
Playing imaginative games with one another helps communication, language and social skills, along with creativity and understanding of the world, improve while children delve into a world of pirates, ships, beaches and treasure chests!
One of the big areas of school readiness is helping children become a little bit more independent – learning to attempt to put their coats on or fastening their shoes on their own, with little adult assistance.
Although these sort of tasks require fine motor skills development first, it is still important to help encourage children to become independent and try these tasks on their own.
Through sensory play, children are able to develop their problem solving and decision making skills. While digging for treasure in the Giant Sandbox, children can make their own decisions of whether they would prefer to carry on digging or join in with the others sandcastle contest - who can make the biggest sand fort?
As children choose where, what and who they want to play with, their independence is growing and they’re beginning to think on their own: developing their school readiness. Those who may be a little bit more timid indoors can feel free to explore, learn and play once outside as they may not longer feel the constraints of the indoor classroom.
In an excellent outdoor learning environment, children can pick and choose from child-led and adult-led play activities as they explore numerous activities and present themselves with new challenges to overcome in their games.
Tactile resources and activities in the playground can help improve children’s fine and gross motor skills as they use big and small actions to manipulate materials and loose play resources.
Scooping, shaping, moulding, manipulating and experimenting with natural resources like mud, sand and water is an excellent way to incorporate all of these actions.
Whereas active play equipment, such as trim trails and climbing frames, stimulate vestibular and proprioception as they learn about their spacial awareness, move their bodies and experience the texture of high-quality timber and tough ropes.
Our Pinnacle Hill Climber, which is the perfect introductory climbing frame for nursery children, presents children with an exciting, tree-like challenge as they climb, grip, grasp, balance and swing from the smaller, rounded ropes and logs.
Multiple children can use the frame at once, so children are encouraged to learn about spacial awareness and how to move their bodies along with communication and language.
Not only does our active playground equipment have sensory benefits, it also enables children to target their all-round physical skills, including balance, upper and lower body strength, fine and gross motor skills, co-ordination, balance and climbing confidence as they navigate the exciting playground challenge.
Children also use the equipment as a focal point for their imaginative play as they take their game to the next level.
If you would like to develop your nursery garden or preschool playground, please feel free to Contact Us. We have designed and developed a specialist range, unlike anything currently on the market, of Nursery Outdoor Play Equipment that truly enhances your setting and meets your children’s needs, while providing stimulating activities for outdoor learning and play.