By engaging their senses and offering them with an opportunity to explore, babies learn to make sense of their world.
The importance of sensory play in early childhood acts as a springboard to nurture a baby’s development in a multitude of ways.
Besides offering store-bought toys, how about creating your baby’s first sensory bin with common household items?
What is a sensory bin?
A sensory bin consists of a container with a mix of fillers that offers tactile experience. There’s no right or wrong way to present a sensory bin. As with children, remember safety should always come first – parents should pick items that are safe and suitable for their child.
For young babies, it is essential to select items that are not choking hazards, and are generally child-friendly. If your child loves putting things in her mouth, be sure to keep sharp objects or tiny items out of the sensory bin.
Sensory bins are versatile and can accommodate ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ play. Add water into the bin and get ready for some splashing fun! There’s always an opportunity to explore the sensory bin during bath times, or in the bathroom for that added water fun.
Benefits of a sensory bin
“envisioned a child’s knowledge as composed of schemas, basic units of knowledge used to organize past experiences and serve as a basis for understanding new ones.
— Jean Piaget, French Psychologist
This sensory play method allows parents to switch around with different fillers every single time! Best of all, the items are not expensive, complicated and do not require batteries. In fact, it’s about upcycling what you already have without buying more.
Learning with simple items that are readily available at home makes it a spontaneous opportunity for your child to observe how these things are also used on a regular day too!
Through this hands-on exploration, here’s what a sensory bin offers young children:
Engage their senses: Multi-sensorial points are simultaneously triggered. Feeling the textured sides of a sponge, looking and listening to the sound when shaking a bottle of water, touching pasta and throwing them into a container, are just some ways your little learner is picking up notes!
Develop practical life skills: Oh that mess! Don’t worry, your child is learning about cause-and-effect. Baby learns to pick up each pasta after the container was overturned, sharpening his fine motor skills as he discovers about pinching clothes pegs, attempts to scoop toilet roll and pasta with the ladle. It’s all about daring to try, baby, and that’s how we hope to nurture our children to be adapt to situations and keep going.
Build cognitive development: Problem-solving skills, reasoning and logic are just some of those areas that your child is working on as he explores the myriad of items in his new sensory bin! Encourage him, if he decides to put all the clothes peg into the resealable bag, or puts pasta into the empty supplement container to turn it into a shaker.
Enhance language and communication skills: As parents involve themselves while children are exploring, this leads to asking questions, exposure to new vocabulary, conversations and more! If baby decides to do a taste test with the sponge, you could even ask him if it was yummy – and go on to explain that sponges are not for eating. Thought process in the works!
Nurture emotional development: Independent play allows child to focus on a task, contributing to self-discovery. Playing with other children offers them with an opportunity to pick up social skills, by learning to cooperate and play together (or fight over!) with items from the sensory bin.
Strengthen social skills and bonds: Through parent-child interaction, or exploring the sensory bin with another child, this presents a new environment to learn about sharing and taking turns. There might be some tears, but it’s entirely expected!
Putting together baby’s first sensory bin
We put together a list of 10 common household items that are affordable, and yet promise to pique baby’s curiosity!
You will need a container to hold these items. Do ensure it is cleaned before offering baby.
Resealable bag or small plastic bag
Empty supplement container
Shredded paper and envelopes
Ladle and spoons
A little warning though – be prepared for flying pasta, ladles, clothes pegs, toilet rolls… just about anything within baby’s sight! Well, that is pretty expected and all in a day of sensorial fun to observe mummy and daddy’s reactions too!
How can parents be involved during the sensory bin exploration?
Parents can choose to be facilitators or play together with your child at various stages of play. Babies are naturally curious, and exploration allows them to discover new things through experience. You would be surprised how they make sense of these newly discovered items that their little fingers are getting hold of!
Sensory bins offer a variety of adventures within the indoors, and are great for rainy days, or when the child needs to stay home. But that’s no reason why they should be denied of excitement in an unconventional way, as we work towards raising world-ready children who are ready to take on new experiences! Are you and your baby ready for the invitation to play?
Does your child enjoy playing with sensory bins too? Tell us what’s your child’s favourite household item that he enjoys playing with!