Sensory play is exactly what it says on the tin: any kind of play that engages a child’s five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. There has been a lot of research into the benefits of sensory play for children, from developing their motor skills all the way to helping them better express their thoughts and feelings as they get older. Babies, toddlers, and even bigger kids can enjoy a variety of sensory play activities using everyday items you already have around the house but we here at Artificial Grass Direct are here to tell you about the unique benefits of outdoor sensory play!
Sensory play outdoors encourages children to interact with their environment differently than they would indoors. First of all, the outdoors provides more room for gross motor movement and allows for less restrictive play (we’re sure most of you have a no running in the house rule). Secondly, it allows children to engage in developmental tasks that they might not be as used to indoors such as exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor movement, and confidence building.
Outdoor Sensory Activities
The outdoors provides a lot of sensory feedback just by virtue of it being, well, outdoors! There are plenty of natural sights, sounds, smells, and textures (maybe avoid “natural” tastes for now) that your child can enjoy such as the sound of birdsong and the way the clouds look. Even the texture of synthetic surfaces such as artificial grass gardens can be a new, developmental experience for a child, with the added bonus of being hypoallergenic for allergy sufferers and wipe-clean for messy play!
Speaking of messy play, bringing sensory activities outdoors allows for much more freedom to explore when the worry that furniture or flooring will be ruined is no longer an issue. Parents can keep things basic with activities such as water play, whether that be with a simple washing up bucket or in a paddling pool. Items like washing up liquid or shampoo can provide a fun bubble-based experience that children as young as toddlers can enjoy.
We recommend parents create sensory ‘bins’ using buckets, bowls, or basins. Simply fill the bin with a fun sensory material such as soil, sand, water, or beads and use toys you have around the house to explore these materials. Messier activities can involve foods, paints, or even slime! Why not make macaroni art or potato prints? Or have older children follow a home-made slime tutorial on YouTube to create a colourful, textured toy.
School aged children can even enjoy simple science experiments in the garden such as making windmills, bicarbonate of soda volcanoes, and rock candy crystals. Tutorials for these can be found online with ease. The possibilities are endless with the added bonus of being able to make as much mess and noise as you want. When you’re finished simply pack up, hose down the garden (and maybe the kids), and rest easy knowing you and your family can enjoy sensory play in the garden time and time again now that summer is just around the corner.