WHAT IS SENSORY ART?
From birth, children are wired to receive and utilise sensory input. This is why children will dive in hands first, exploring a new substance. The senses are their most familiar, most basic way to explore, process, and come to understand new information. Sensory play is really part of the scientific process. Children ask a thousand questions because they are just starting out in life, leading them to investigate by grabbing, smelling, listening, rubbing, staring, what ever they can do to get an answer! They are using their senses to collect data and from that, attempt to answer their own questions.
Our Sensory Art sessions are aimed at activating most of our sensors through art. During our 45 minute class, children will enjoy our sensory art play stations at their own pace. There will be stations set up activate touch, smell, sound and of course the visual stimuli. You might find sand, foam or cold slime, that ignites fun exploration but are also ways to engage developmental growth by honing in on sensory and science skills whilst building language skills as well as social and dramatic play skills as the children negotiate with one another, you and the teacher to share tools, create stories and build dialogues. Creative, divergent thinking is displayed as the children are essentially invited to explore and come up with new ways to use the materials. Cognitive skills are fostered as well as the children learning about specific concepts pertinent to each activity. Things like gravity, states of matter, and colour mixing are easily explored and understood through sensory play. As we teach appropriate boundaries with sensory play, children develop more self-control and body awareness.
Sensory art play provides an opportunity for every child to succeed. No matter whether you are learning a new language or mastering your first, whether you are gifted or needing support in an particular area, you can’t really fail with a bin full of beans or a ball of play dough. Children who find it harder to succeed or who are apprehensive about failure often find solace in sensory play. The simple act of pouring water or running fingers through rice is often cathartic and calming to many children who may be struggling emotionally. It can soothe the nervous child, distract the homesick child, and serve as an outlet for the angry child. For children with special needs and sensory integration needs, sensory play may be particularly therapeutic. Please note that we must also avoid over-stimulation in many sensitive children. Special attention must also be paid to children with sensory integration needs and properly recognising their thresholds. So if you are aware of such needs, please let the teacher know so we can all support each child.
WHY SENSORY ART PLAY?
From birth through to 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. Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – 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.
Recent research by shows up to one in six children may have sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday life functions.
Every person has a threshold for sensory stimulation. If you have a high threshold, it is harder for you to register sensory stimulation. If you have a low threshold it is very easy to register sensory stimulation. People also have a behavioural response linked to their sensory system, some people who have a small threshold, like to avoid certain sensory areas therefore making the building of new brains pathway more difficult. Many people who have a large threshold feel a need to feed this. The craving to seek sensory stimulation when you have a high or low threshold is mostly unconscious and at times can be almost involuntary.
Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. The sensory activities allow children to refine their thresholds for different sensory information helping their brain to create stronger connections to process and respond to sensory information.