I have to say, the toys that are used the most in my setting are the Treasure Basket and the box of curtain rings. Every day they are used. Sometimes by the babies for exploring and investigating. Other times by the preschoolers and older children who use them in a similar way but also like to add them to their play to represent other items. I am always on the look out for ways to expand these loose parts and sensory play resources. Charity shops and car boot sales are the best place by far!
Why introduce Loose parts and sensory play to young children?
As the children play, they use a lot of descriptive words.They talk about how the items feel, how they have different textures. Wood is warm to the touch compared to metal or stone. A spoon is hard and smooth compared to say a piece of natural sponge, that is soft and rough. A baby will hold these loose parts and sensory play items and explore the textures with their mouths. All the while making new neural pathways and connections. The more chance a child has to explore and investigate these items the stronger these connections will become. They will start to form a little database in their heads of these textures and sensory experiences which will help them to make sense of the world they live in. A pre-school child can learn to describe these textures. Learning what smooth feels like and giving it a word. They can compare two items.” This one is hard and this one soft.” They can talk about the weights and sizes of items. Comparing, grouping and sorting loose parts and sensory play items is a fun and inexpensive learning activity!
Little “L” enjoys putting as many of the rings on her arm as possible. She starts off saying they are smooth, light, cold. After filling her arm, she tells me they feel heavy!
She finds two pebbles in the basket and tells me that they are smooth and cold. She starts to bang them together and tells me they are noisy, while laughing at what she is doing!
As well as loose parts and sensory play items, I also like to have instruments that are in easy reach of young children and that are made from natural materials. These are also used on a daily basis. Not always for singing and rhymes but often just to experiment with sounds. Talking about loud and quiet sounds. Comparing the sounds and volume that each instrument makes.
- To provide the children with a natural and cheap play experience which allows them to use all their senses safely to explore and investigate the items.
- To provide the opportunity to extend their vocabulary by talking to the children about the textures as they play. Using descriptive language such as hard, soft, rough and smooth. Also to introduce simple mathematical language such as larger and smaller, comparing and grouping items by size or shape.
I will look to provide more resources to expand this play. Different instruments from around the world, Some crocheted items, maybe a kitchen towel holder to stack the rings on too. I would like to find some large shells as well.
Today’s play meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
- Physical Development
- Communication and Language
- Personal, Social and Emotional.
- Understanding the world.