Different Types of Sensory Toys Every Child Needs

Different Types of Sensory Toys Every Child Needs

Every young child has a curious mind for exploring and investigating the world around them. Naturally, kids want to play but also learn at the same time. In the play, children often use their five senses to discover how things work, feel, smell, taste, and sound. This is known as sensory play. Sensory toys are a fantastic way to teach young children to engage in sensory play. This article will explain more about the benefits of sensory play and also outline what some of the best sensory toys are for your children.

A brief background on sensory play

In basic terms, sensory play involves any activity that stimulates a young child’s mind through either sight, sound, smell, taste, and/or touch. Movement and balance are also just as important to learn about for a young child through sensory play.

When a child is actively using one or all five of these senses, they are also learning to engage properly with their environment. For example, when a baby touches the surface of a soft carpet, they are learning that they can push off on it, roll around on it and not injure themselves on a hard surface. This relates to the sensory experience of touch.

The benefits of sensory play

Sensory play teaches young children to engage with their environment more interactively. It is through this interactive approach to learning (through the senses), those small children can learn quite quickly. This might include what is safe to eat, touch and listen to for example because some are not.

In knowing this, here is a list of some of the main benefits for young children which can be derived from sensory play/toys.

  • Helps to build nerve connections in the brain

  • Encourages the development of motor skills

  • Supports language development

  • Encourages ‘scientific thinking' and problem solving (hypothesis thinking – eg, “If I yell in a loud voice, will people listen to me more or less?”

  • Can involve mindful activities - beneficial for all children

Each of the benefits outlined above all relate to associations with particular environments and what is contained within them. For example, if your child accidentally hits their leg on a wooden table, they might associate pain and hard objects with a grainy, brown colour (the table).

All of these things such as colours (sight), textures (touch), and loud noises (sound/hearing) will all be initially new to a young child. That is until they have experienced them within their environment of play. This displays the high importance of sensory play to a young child. Lucky that it comes naturally to them!

5 sensory toys that your kids must have

So, as you can see, sensory play is very important to the development of your child at an early age. But what about sensory toys? Which one can be used for which sense, and exactly which toys are safe for your child to play with? Simply take a peek below and find a few ideas we have come up with that include each of the five senses.

These are our top five:

  1. Sensory Rain Stick/Rain Stick Bottle – this can be bought or made. Works on the sense of sound. The gentle sound of a rain stick sensory bottle can help children focus and learn to self-regulate.

  2. Kinetic Sand – can be moulded into different shapes and objects. Works on the sense of touch. This toy allows for imaginative play, scooping, sculpting, squeezing, and digging.

  3. Rainbow chickpeas very much a DIY toy invention. Works on the sense of sight. Different (rainbow-like) colours mean that children can distinguish each chickpea from another. Also helps with fine motor skills when sorting them and picking them up.

  4. Lavender sensory rice – Another DIY toy and sensory experience for your kids. Works on the sense of smell. This DIY creation allows for kids to experience strong but pleasant scents as well as fine textures when running the rice through their fingers and hands.

  5. Stuck in the mud – By making ‘Oobleck’ (using cornstarch and water) this activity is great fun for kids. Works on the sense of taste. ‘Oobleck’ is safe to eat and just by adding some cocoa, kids will love the chocolatey taste. It often stays solid and thick when you scoop it up and then turns runny when you open your hands. Just add some farm animal figurines in the mud (’Oobleck’) and voila you have a great sensory toy for kids they can even taste!

Never lose their valuable sensory toys

Young children often get distracted during play. Whether this is by other people or objects that enter their play space kids will be kids and their minds will go wandering. For them, it’s just natural. As a result, kids tend to misplace their toys and other belongings. Especially if your kids are at school, they won’t want to lose their favourite toy during the day.

There are a number of ways to keep track of your kids' toys and not have them lost or in the hands of another. Avoid embarrassing tantrums and lost investments in expensive toys. We suggest getting some personalised name stickers or kids school labels to affix to your child’s favourite toy truck with the sirens or your little girl's favourite doll. There are a lot of name label stores for stickers and iron-on name labels in Australia that you can find online. Do a simple Google search and there should be plenty of options to choose from.

Additionally, colourful labels can also help with learning in a sensory way. If you place different colours on each of your child’s toys, they will learn quickly whose is whose. Eg, blue for boys and purple for girls. Iron-on name labels can also be affixed to soft sensory plush toys such as teddy bears and other soft toys for this same purpose.