As the weather heats up, do you begin daydreaming about warm lazy days full of lake swims and popsicles, evenings full of fireflies, and campfires? Yep…me too! However, if you are anything like me, you simultaneously love the magic of summer but dread the task of keeping your little ones happy and engaged all summer long. When those long days of summer feel a little too long, it’s tempting to rely on TV and electronics to keep your child occupied. Instead, resist the temptation and get your child outside for some fun in the sun. Keep reading for some tips and tricks on creating a fun and engaging Sensory Summer!
Babies and young children use their senses to learn about the world around them. They do this by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing and moving within their environment. Research shows that providing your child different sensory experiences helps to support their cognitive development, language development, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, social skills, body awareness, and emotional intelligence.
The warm weather of summer is perfect for sensory play. Let your little one frolic in the water at the beach or in the pool. Water play provides a calming sensory experience for your child. It helps them develop hand-eye coordination as they learn to pour, squeeze, and stir the water around them. Even splashing and moving the direction of the water helps children learn cause and effect, while strengthening their large and small motor skills.
Sand play either at the beach or in a sandbox is another way to keep your child’s senses engaged for hours. Digging through the sand, building sandcastles and mixing sand with water are all rich sensory experiences that help your child learn about different textures while strengthening their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Bury your little one in the sand to engage their proprioceptive sense, the sense of their body relative to space.
Unable to get to the pool or the beach? Not to worry. Create a sensory experience in your own backyard. Make a beach sensory table with a shallow plastic bin or kiddie pool. Include water, sand, shells, plastic beads, toy fish, or other animals. Don’t forget the sponges, buckets, shovels, bowls, and measuring cups. For another fun activity, make a dinosaur sensory swamp by filling a shallow tray with water and green food coloring. Submerge plastic small plastic dinosaurs in the green water tray before freezing. Once frozen, let your child melt the ice with warmer water to free the dinosaurs.
With a little planning, your child’s summer days will be filled with hours of engaging sensory play. So, grab a cold drink, sit back, relax and enjoy your Sensory Summer!!!
** Young children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water. Constant supervision is essential even when playing at a water sensory table or a shallow wading pool.