Recovering Play – Sensory Sensations!

Sensory Sensations!

Sand, water and messy play.

What is it?

Opportunities to explore the world using their senses is the way children begin to learn. Touch. Taste. Smell. Sight. Hearing. There are endless opportunities for these in nursery. Sand, water and playdough are amongst those used most often but there are many others; including foam, pasta, cereal, painting using fingers and hands, gloop and slime.  By adding colour and or scent to some of these you can increase the sensory opportunities available.

Why is it important?

Some young children find it soothing and comforting as they use their hands to touch and feel, many find this through a soft toy or a cuddly blanket. Various textures provide different responses from children. Some children will simply stand and allow water or sand to just run through or over their hands and find it soothing.

It can also aid fine motor skills as they manipulate the resources themselves and the tools to go with them. These opportunities provide many language opportunities as they can describe what it feels like and talk about what they are doing. Many of these opportunities can also be taken outside and others such as mud, grass etc. are found outdoors.

How to bring it back

At least one sensory experience and ideally more should be available daily. Ensure you have reasonable amounts of these resources to allow lots of exploration and creativity. present it in a way that children will want to come and engage. Keep in place all relevant cleaning processes and be aware of any allergies.

Sharing with home

Explain to families the benefits of sensory play opportunities and share how to make some of the resources you use in the setting and how they could use them at home, both indoors and outside.

This is one of a weekly series of posts highlighting different spaces, experiences and interactions that practitioners have told us are not all easy to get back after the pandemic restrictions.

It’s all about playing, talking, and having fun together – so we hope they are useful.  If there are any ideas you’d like us to highlight, just get in touch with your link EYESO.

For ideas about family engagement, you will find a “home” version of this post on