Sensory /ËˆsÉ›ns(É™)ri/ adjective
Relating to sensation or the physical senses; transmitted or perceived by the senses.
Play /pleÉª/ Verb
Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose
Sensory play is an activity done for enjoyment which is related to the senses. It can be as simple as holding ice to a full-blown nature crawl to feel the grass, the pebbles, and the muck on our knees, hear the birds and the bees and smell the rain on the mud. Sensory experiences for a child are not limited to the time we allot to sensory play.
I am a well-read, well educated, aware mother. I make decisions out of the box but even to me, when my son would sit with a box of crayons and spend hours with it in a way that was not prescribed, it would put me off.
“We use crayons to colour sweetie.”
“Oh, you’re wasting the crayons.”
“No, we don’t break things.”
“Your crayon cover peelings are creating a mess.”
”No more crayons for you, I have had enough.”
“You just don’t want to colour.”
And then one day I gave him the box and got busy with something else – he tore every single paper covering, broke every crayon into two or three – sat there wondering why some wouldn’t break further and how some parts easily split further. Then when he was done touching, feeling, playing with them, he started to scribble – to colour – to create patterns only coherent to him and he sat there engrossed in his activity for over an hour.
He discovered his own sensory play. He told me how the click that broke the crayon excited him, how the ripping sound was so nice and how the various ways in which the crayon could break was so beautiful.
Do we always need them to experience what we set out to make them experience?
- When we set out to a farm, to show them the cows and all they see is the bees.
- When we leave for the beach, to show them the sea and all they want to do is cover sand up to their knees.
- Why does it bother us, why do we egg them to do what we want them to do?
Every time, each time we start an experience with our preconceived ideas of what will be fun, what should they experience out of it and our unconscious biases often limit the activity.
There is so much more to painting than creating art, so much more to making lemonade than following the recipe. Free play, if we sit and watch, gives our children so much more to ponder, think, enjoy, and relish than all our planned sensory plays.
Is it truly possible to let the kids be? As much as we believe discovery and not teaching is the best way to learn why can we not hold back – why this urge to confirm and make them conform. I am struggling each day as I wake up and sleeping each day with a promise to let them just grow.