Playgrounds support children’s learning, development and kindergarten readiness in many different ways and can stimulate sensory play.
Usually when we talk about senses we think of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell but besides these 5, there are 2 other very important senses for the body; the body’s position in space and the sense of movement. At the playground kids get to move in countless ways and try upside down, right side up, sideways, on the ground, above the ground, vertical, horizontal, straight, bent, and more. Occasionally, they may even try a still position.
- The sense of touch is activated by all the different feels. The metal equipment will be smooth and cold; that made of wood will be rougher. Most times it will be dry, rain can make everything very slippery. The ground may be rocks, wood chips, or grass and all of those feel differently. Sliding and swinging make for light wind on faces. Sand and rocks feel okay when playing but not so great in socks and shoes.
- There is so much to see on the playground. Shapes, colors, and lines stimulate the sense of sight. Somethings are close and some very far away. The world doesn’t look the same at all when viewed upside down.
- Voices, birds, traffic going by, kids playing on equipment, and parents calling are sounds that kids can hear. Rocks knock and scratch together when feet walk and run, wood is quieter and feet make hardly any sound on grass.
- For smell, the playground may smell fresh and clean after the rain, or dry and dusty on hot days.
- Water tastes so good when bodies are thirsty and snacks are yummy for busy, hungry kids.
Sensory stimulation is important for brain growth. Not only are children learning about themselves, others, and their surroundings as they see, hear, taste, smell, touch, and move but they are also practicing how to learn from sensory stimulation. As kids play, brains are making connections and pathways that will be used for other learning too and will help children with kindergarten readiness.
What other ways do kids use their senses on the playground?