Posts in May 2023

What does "sensory play" mean?

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

“Sensory play is the foundation for all higher-level learning. Every time you engage the sensory system, you’re creating neural connections, which is good for complex development.”

- Stephanie Swinburne Occupational Therapist

Sensory play in early childhood is important for overall health and well-being. It forms the foundation of a child’s learning and perception - a base for later learning.

Babies start discovering the world around them primarily with their senses (touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, and smelling). Babies look at bright colors or lights, grasp their carer's fingers or hair, and put everything in their mouths. Learning through the five senses is beneficial even during the preschool and elementary school years.

Children learn about the different forms of expression by using multiple senses.

“For a small child, discussion and verbal learning have little educative power without actual experience. Learning rather happens through all the sensory channels. Children must live through, explore, and try things out to attach meaning to them”   

- H. Hendrick

How to support sensory development?

Sensory play is anything that involves the use of one or several senses: touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, or smelling. Engaging the senses in play helps to develop motor skills, self-regulation, and sensory integration—and it is also fun!

The best way to support children's sensory development is through sensory play! Here are some concrete tips for sensory play activities that you can do with young children. The activities will help children to develop and fine-tune their sensory and motor skills, as well as to promote their creativity and emotional well-being.

How Kindiedays works?

Sensory play ideas!


Feet are sensitive to feeling different textures and surfaces. Walking barefoot has also health benefits! According to Rhythms of Play walking barefoot is a great way to help the feet (and body) develop correctly in childhood. Walking barefoot allows better control of foot position and lets children have more control over their feet when climbing, running, etc.

Therefore - it is a great idea to build a path or obstacle course where children can walk barefoot. The path can include different types of surfaces as water, sand, stones, carpets, and soft pillows as well as different styles of moving forward as jumping, tiptoeing, balancing... you name it!


Make a sensory zip-lock bag activity by filling a zip-lock bag with liquid (water or juice) and other little but safe items of your choice. Zip-lock bags are suitable for children over 12 months of age.

Once ready, you can tape the zip log bag on the table, on the floor on the window. Make sure that the bag is fully sealed and use safe materials to fill it, such as water and food coloring. Children can explore the bag by touching it and looking at it and how the liquid moves inside.

More Ziplog bag sensory ideas from 'Hands on as we grow' blog here.


DIY toy that encourages children to move

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The good news is: children don't need expensive toys to play and learn. In fact, you probably have all the things you need to create a fun and engaging game!

Here is an idea to help get you started with Do-It-Yourself toys.

DIY ribbon stick for all ages

Why: Develops hand-eye coordination, motor skills and stimulates visual skills

You need:

  • Long colourful ribbons or pieces of fabric
  • A stick (one from a forest is fine, natural materials are ecological too)
  • Scissors
  • (Hot) glue or rubber bands

Instructions: Take the colourful ribbons or fabrics and cut long stripes out of them. Tie or glue them on the stick. (You can decide and test whether one long one is better or a couple of shorter ones.) Ta-daa! Your ribbon stick is ready!

How to use it?

Babies & toddlers:

  • Use the ribbon stick as a capturing toy for babies. It helps to develop hand-eye coordination and stimulate visual skills when focusing eyes on the toy and trying to grab the straps. Do not let small children eat the toy.
  • Use the ribbon stick as a tickle toy! Go through the child's body by tickling softly with the ribbons. Repeat the names of each body part while doing this. This activity promotes body awareness and is great for a relaxation moment.
  • Play music and let children run around with the ribbon sticks. Play a game of "musical ribbons": when the music stops, also children and their ribbon sticks need to stay still. The smaller the child, the shorter the stick.
  • Make a fun ribbon dance! Choose a song that captures your little ones (for example Shake your sillies out) and encourage children to move the ribbon sticks along with the music. Shake them high and low, quickly and slowly according to the music.


What is play?

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Play is state of mind that one has when absorbed in an activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of sense of time. And play is self-motivated so you want to do it again and again.

Dr. Stuart Brown

According to the National Institute for Play, play is crucial for early childhood development. Researchers have shown that play is a deep-rooted biological process that is crucial to early childhood development. The biology of play has evolved because play promotes learning and adaptability, and therefore also survival in the world. Children learn most effectively through play.

Children truly enjoy and love to play and play is actually the best thing you can offer children. Therefore, make sure to include slots that have time for free play in your weekly schedule.

Play gets better if the environment is optimal. First of all, playtime should be long enough so that children get to evolve their play without rushing. Quiet and calm play space gives more possibilities for their creativity to blossom. The play environment should also be inspiring with good toys or other materials. Play areas could be marked for example with shelves or carpets, so that one big room has several smaller play areas. It is a good idea to divide children into small groups so that 2-5 children are playing together in one play corner. Overall, the children should feel comfortable in the play space.

Free Play — self-initiated play time — is a sacred space. As a parent, one of your jobs is to protect that space for your kids. Not interrupt it unnecessarily and not have other adults interrupt it unnecessarily.

Liz Memel, Certified RIE® Mentor Teacher

Personal interests guide children's play

According to National Institute for Play helping children pursue their interests through play is vital for their future and growth. Whatever skills children will need in their later life, play will help children understand how to learn, achieve things, and simply enjoy life Play teaches humans to do things they like!

Spend time observing and understanding children when they play. Mark down their interests and favorites. Try to see what engages the children and makes them happy. Making notes and taking photos of children's play is the first - and very important - step of the pedagogical documentation process.

What themes interest children?

What do children learn during play?

Play and learn with colors

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Painting is a great activity that invites children to play and explore the world of colors! 

Art activities are a way to relax, pursue creativity, learn about colors, play with water, and practice fine motor skills. Children get to learn about different art techniques and gather aesthetic experiences through art. Read more about the learning objectives from 'Diverse forms of expression' learning area here.

How to prepare?

For watercolor painting, you will need watercolors, paint brushes, large heavyweight white paper, masking tape for making the paper stay still, and cups of water.

When you are starting a painting activity with children, it is good to teach the basics in the very beginning:

  • Show children how to dip the paintbrush into the water
  • Show children how to take color onto the paintbrush
  • Remind children to wash the paintbrush in between changing colors
  • Show children the magic of color mixing
    • yellow + blue = green
    • red + blue = purple
    • yellow + red = orange

Then let the children lead!

When you have set everything ready, there is really not much more to do than letting the children lead the game. Let the children decide what colors to use and what type of marks to paint.

It is much more fun and surprising if you do not give any specific orders or ideas on painting, but let children pursue their creativity.

In case you are painting with little children, it is a good idea to assist with changing colors and washing the paintbrush every once in a while.

With older children, you can for example give a black permanent marker to add some drawings along the watercolor paint after the paint is dry.

Get a free lesson plan that encourages children's creativity!

When the children seem ready, you may ask what did they paint and write down the name of the child/artist, the date, and what is on the picture described by the artist him/herself.