Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2016
Welcome to an exciting time in your toddlers life. Your toddler is learning to explore, ask questions, listen for new sounds, see new things, taste new foods (well maybe not so much) and touch anything they can get their hands into. With those ideas in mind we are so excited to introduce you all to our new program. We are working on a multi- sensory program for all of our toddler groups from the Wee Starters to the Bright Starters. Our team has been working hard to develop this program. While we are increasing asked to "teach" our children more and more to ready them for kindergarten and beyond, we struggle to maintain a curriculum that keeps in mind they are toddlers. Our program will "teach" through hands on multi-sensory learning. We believe the children will have a more balanced learning experience as they prepare to move onto the next age group.
The Benefits of Sensory Play
We know that young children are oriented toward sensory experiences. From birth,
children have learned about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing.
Sensory play also contributes in crucial ways to brain development. Think of it
as “food for the brain.” Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that
help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning. For example,
as children explore sensory materials, they develop their sense of touch, which lays
the foundation for learning other skills, such as identifying objects by touch, and using
fine-motor muscles. The materials children work with at the sand and water table have
many sensory attributes — they may be warm or cool, wet or dry, rough or smooth,
hard or soft, textured or slimy. Discovering and differentiating these characteristics is a
first step in classification, or sorting — an important part of preschoolers’ science learning
While sensory materials are very rewarding for young children, they also present unique challenges for teachers. Below please find insight into the different types of learning that occurs during sensory experiences and play.
As children experiment with different sized containers in cornmeal or sand, they develop math skills such as size, conservation, counting, timing (how long it takes the sand to sift versus the dirt), matching (finding the same size or shape beans or buttons), and classifying and sorting (what are buttons, beans, macaroni). As children manipulate the materials, they learn to understand concepts such as more/less, full/empty and sink/float.
Science concepts such as cause and effect (what happens when water is added to dirt), gravity (water comes down the funnel not up), and solid to liquid (cornmeal and water mixture) are also explored.
Children have the opportunity to work on their problem-solving and decision-making skills as they determine how they are going to use the materials. For example, children decide how to turn the whipped cream green or how to make the sand stick together.
For children to appreciate and fully utilize their language skills, they must have experiences interesting enough to talk about. Sensory experiences are exciting because each child can use the materials differently. Children also develop pre-writing skills as they pour, spoon, grasp, and work on eye-hand coordination tasks as they use the materials.
Social and Emotional Development
Sensory experiences provide children with the opportunity to feel good about their decision-making skills - they control their actions and the experience. Self-discovery occurs as children become eager scientists. They take pride in their predictions, make observations, and respond to their findings. In addition, children learn to cooperate and work together around the sensory table. As the children work together or side-by-side, they learn to understand someone else's viewpoint. The children also have the opportunity to express themselves and become confident in sharing their ideas with others. Children need an opportunity to try out their emerging concepts about their world in a safe environment as well as have appropriate outlets for relieving tension. Pounding, squishing, feeling water through their hands are all ways of staying in contact with feelings while learning to control what he does about them.
Children reinforce and practice their small motor skills while pouring, measuring, stirring, whisking, and manipulating the materials. They learn to control their bodies and give their bodies directions to accomplish tasks as they explore. Gross motor skills are refined as children explore, usually outside, with running through a sprinkler, examining surfaces with hands and feet, or foot painting.
Sensory experiences provide open-ended opportunities where the process is more important than the product - how children use the materials is much more important than what he makes with them. Using creative thinking skills and expressing one's creativity are important self-esteem builders.
We are so excited to be developing this program for our toddlers. While they will still be introduced to a “Letter of The Week”, work on name recognition, colors, and shapes in the Bright Starters, it will be done in a hands on multi-sensory discovery.
Our Wee Starters will be very happy getting messy each day and discovering new textures, learning new words and developing all their five senses.