When Rose was a baby I made her a sensory play basket. I did so much reading about a child’s development that I was determined to give Rose plenty of opportunity to explore the world around her and I’ve continued to do this well into her toddler years.
Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates a young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing. Sensory activities help with exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create and investigate.
I found organising sensory play activities for Rose when she was a baby really easy. She could have spent all day sitting on the kitchen floor playing with saucepans and wooden spoons (actually she still quite likes to do this!) the older she got the more interested Rose became in roleplay. She attends pre-school 4 days a week and her teachers have told me that Rose loves nothing more than to set up shop or play tea parties. Any sort of game where there is plenty of interaction and Rose is happy.
The role of sensory play is just as important for toddlers as well as babies. Sensory exploration is a child’s way of examining, discovering, categorising and making sense of the world. It isn’t just about touch, using imaginative play is still a very effective way of appealing to a child’s senses. It helps with fine and gross motor skills and can also have a really calming effect on children, especially toddlers. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas. When a child engages in pretend (or dramatic) play, they are actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. This in turn builds self-esteem when children discover they can be anything just by pretending!
One of the things we’ve always done at home with Rose is reading, but quite often it’s difficult to hold her attention span however much she is enjoying the story. We were sent an absolutely beautiful Princess Mouse and the Pea playset from Little Baby Company, and is perfect for imaginative play alongside reading our Princess and the Pea book. Rose is able to explore different parts of the story and can visualise the characters and storyline for herself while acting it out with the playset. The playset features a golden crochet crown and pink princess net dress and comes in a printed blue castle-box complete with several layers of pretty pastel cotton and tiny mattresses, a pillow and a tiny crochet green pea! It’s a super sweet playset Rose adores it and it’s really enhanced our imaginative playtime. It looks really stunning on the shelf in her room and I’m sure it will be played with and displayed for years to come.
We also received a lovely sparkly character mermaid from Little Baby Company which also works very well for imaginative play. Rose uses the doll to reenact scenes from one of her favourite TV shows about Mermaids. It encourages less screen time and more playtime, which we like! The mermaid has beautiful detailing with coloured and metallic thread, dangly arms and lovely applique. Her hair is made up in a plait in a soft pale blue yarn and she has a friendly embroidered face with rosy cheeks. She’s large enough to sit propped on a chair or against a pillow, perfect for a night time cuddle.
Rose starts school in September and I know she will enjoy plenty of sensory playtime there, using water play, sand, colouring and painting. It will be lovely for us to continue this at home by encouraging roleplay with all her favourite toys. Don’t forget to check out the fantastic selection available at Little Baby Company enabling you to engage and play with your little ones, there are lots of ideas for sensory and imaginative play on their website.