From birth through early childhood, children use their senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. They do this by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, moving, and hearing. Children and even adults learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses. Many of our favorite memories are associated with one or more of our senses. For instance, the smell of a summer night campfire or a song you memorized the lyrics to with a childhood friend. Now, when your nostrils and eardrums are stimulated with those familiar smells and sounds respectively, your brain triggers a flashback memory to those special times.
Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through sensory play is crucial to brain development because it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways. This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction, and problem-solving skills. Not to mention, sensory play is FUN, which is one of Educational Playcare’s Core Values.
Here are 5 taste-safe sensory activities families can try right at home!
- Kool-Aid Playdough
Ingredients: 2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of warm water, one 3oz package of any flavor of Kool-Aid, 1 tbsp. of cream of tartar, 1 tbsp. of cooking oil
Directions: Add all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of warm water into the bowl and mix together. Add oil and knead with hands.
- Pumpkin Playdough
Ingredients: One 15oz can of pumpkin puree and one 16 oz box of corn starch
Directions: Mix ingredients together until it forms into a dough.
- Applesauce Playdough
Ingredients: Applesauce and cornstarch
Directions: Mix together 1 cup of applesauce with 2 cups of cornstarch. This is a great activity to experiment with your children by adding more applesauce or cornstarch to see how it changes the texture of the playdough.
- Cheerio Sensory Bin
Directions: Add Cheerios to a bucket with small toys such as cups and spoons and let your children explore
- Taste-Safe Kinetic Sand
Ingredients: 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of cornmeal, 1 tbsp. of oil, 1 tbsp. of corn syrup
Directions: Combine the cornmeal and the flour together. Add the corn syrup and the oil and mix together to create a similar effect like kinetic sand.
What are your family’s favorite taste-safe sensory activities? Share in the comments below!