Multisensory Experiences for Early Development
– Fion Yip, Senior Head Teacher, Victoria Playpark
In their first years of life, infants and children make meaning of the world around them by using their five senses. Most often they are required to use more than one sense at any given time. Think of all the senses in use when you cuddle up with your baby. They can see your face, hear your voice, feel your touch, smell your skin, and sense your movement. Their days are filled with the constant stimulation of sensory experiences and this is how they grow to understand the world we all live in.
Multisensory experiences promote a child’s concentration, creativity, observation, memory, and communication skills. Because each child is unique, these experiences provide a wonderful opportunity to engage all the different types of learners we have in the world.
Some simple activities that support multisensory play are:
- Guess what’s inside
A game you can play using clear bottles with lids. You may put some bubbly water, oil and water, or ice and water for the children to shake and observe.
- Tactile balloons
Use 5-10 balloons filled with different materials so children can see, feel and explore.
There are so many ways to incorporate sensory play into your child’s day. Children love to experiment with and explore water, different doughy substances, soil, paint, bells, winding music boxes, natural materials, you name it!
When your child is participating in activities that use the five senses, it is extremely important to ask open-ended questions; for example, “What do you see?” “What does it smell like?” “How does it taste?” “How does it feel?” “What can you hear?” This helps children to form connections between their prior knowledge with a deeper, more meaningful understanding of their new experiences. These open-ended questions often help ignite their curiosity, and encourage them to make new discoveries and start out on their path towards lifelong learning.