Question for you: what do parents wish for in early learning programs for kids? Mom Nicolle answers, “Lots of hands-on sensory play activities.
This month, we’re pretending that April Fool’s left us with a magic wand or a St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun granted us one wish, but we have to use these for playschools or kindergartens. Parents and caregivers have such great suggestions. Hands-on sensory play activities nourish children’s brains and encourage creativity and problem-solving in addition to other brain connections. In a way, we could say children have brains in their fingers.
These suggestions and inspirations for sensory and hands-on play are from a post earlier this year.
When you look at a picture of the brain, it’s only the outline shape. What are too small to see, are the billions and trillions of brain connections. In a way, these are like tiny fingers stretching out in all directions. For kids, hands and fingers are a powerful connection with the world. Through their sense of touch, children take in information, explore, and interact with the world.
Hands-on play activities don’t need to be complicated. Toys like puzzles, blocks, construction sets, and cars and trucks do not require batteries, but do need hands. Set out some play-dough, paper, paints, or crayons for hands to create all kinds of art.
From the time kids get dressed in the morning, until they cuddle a stuffie at bedtime, hands are busy. Little hands like to mix and stir as kids cook alongside adults. Finger foods combine both eating and touching. A few toys in some water in the sink or bathtub are the only ingredients for another recipe for hands-on fun and learning.
Hands, eyes, and ears coordinate as children interact with a book. Early books for young children often have different textures for fingers to feel or a puppet to animate the story.
Kids do not divide activities into work and play like grownups do. To a child, work can be as much fun as play and this also gives lots more hands-on opportunities. Involve kids in folding and putting away clean, dry laundry or helping in the kitchen. A duster or broom is like an extra-long hand. Hands can unload spoons from the dishwasher and put groceries away.
Many children’s songs include actions, such as the Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hokey Pokey, and Wheels on the Bus. These start with the hands and get the whole body moving. Hands can clap or drum along or make up a new tune.
We see evidence of children’s busy hands and fingers all over the house. But that’s not a surprise at all considering how much happens for them.
Do you remember the movie Apollo 13 where the scientists discover the problem with toxic air? What to they do? They dump all the material on a big table and everybody gets hands-on as they come up with a solution. Even adults need hands-on for thinking. In a way, you can grant a wish today with some hands-on sensory play activities for kids. What might be the play-of-the-day?
P.S. 1 2 3 Kindergarten school has videos with more hands-on and sensory play ideas.