Sensory Play for Babies & Toddlers @ Your Library

Babies and toddlers come standard with a natural and often far-from-quenched desire to learn about the world they live in. Every day they are taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of life all around them. There is an increasing trend among parents and early childhood educators to allow children to get messy and play (read “learn”) with their senses.

This is called sensory play, defined on the PBS Parents website as “any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory activities and sensory tables facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore.”

A great tool for sensory play is play dough! There is so much to talk about, from the texture, to the colors, to the smell. Older children can let their imaginations run wild and create different things from the moldable dough while little ones can squish it in their hands or inside a clear Ziploc baggie (with adult supervision) while the adult provides them with the vocabulary to describe the characteristics of the dough. Here is a link to a “no cook” play dough recipe (glitter optional) from PBS Parents.

Baby playing
Sensory play does not always have to be messy. It can be as simple as using a child-proof plastic mirror to make silly faces with your little one and point to his/her body parts or playing with a set of textured balls and describing the different textures (bumpy, smooth, etc.) and colors to your baby or toddler while they hold it.

Baby with ballYoung children are still learning to communicate with words and absorb much of the world around them through sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Naming the different things they experience can help their vocabulary blossom.

If you are looking to incorporate sensory play with your littlest one, feel free to stop by the Hightstown Library the first Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. for the program “Sensory Play for Babies & Toddlers”—suggested for children ages 3 months through 2.5 years. This program features a variety of objects and toys with different textures, colors, and sounds and encourages a lot of caregiver-child interaction.

Additionally, you can check out these books that encourage little ones to use their senses of sight, touch, and sound to fully enjoy the story!
Wild Animals; Animal Shapes; Sneak-a-Peek Colors
Wild Animals: Follow the Trail by Dawn Sirett
"Presents information about animals and shapes, encouraging young readers to move their fingers along special trails in the book."

Animal Shapes: A Touch-and-Feel Book
A touch-and-feel board book featuring animals and the shapes.

Sneak-a-Peek Colors by Aimée Chapman
"This innovative book introduces colors and encourages your child to explore the world around them. Hold up the book, look through the holes inside, and sneak-a-peek!"—Page [4] cover.

—Miss Liz, Hightstown Memorial Library

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