A child’s sensory education begins at birth when she is first held by his mother. Her exposure to sensory experiences continues as she take in the comforting aroma of her mother’s skin; the sight and sound of everything around her ; clothing against her tender skin; the taste of first food. Montessori believed that we can build on this by encouraging babies and young children to focus on the physical world, exploring with each of their senses. Exercising children’s senses, by creating opportunities that draw their attention to aspects of everyday life or through specific sensorial activities, can greatly improve their awareness. In the years from birth to six, exercises to develop sensory awareness are especially valuable because this is when the nervous system is developing.
During the first year the best ways to develop sensory awareness is through “touch and feel” books or “treasure baskets”. For later years “sensory bins” are the best opportunities to create sensory experiences.
A very simple way to put together a sensory bin is add any grain (rice, pulses or legumes) to a large tray, few objects of different texture and size and let your child explore the objects through all his senses. These bins can also be used to exercise fine motor skills. Add small cups and ask baby to transfer the grains from one container to other. Use a spoon or tongs to transfer the grains. You can add mix of grains and ask baby to segregate the grains. For practical life skills prepare water bins by adding water and baby shampoo to a box. Put small toys, give small brush or sponge and ask baby to wash his toys. . Gardening is again a perfect example of sensory play .There is endless learning to sensory bins.
I started using sensory bins for my son when he turned 10months old. Previously we did lots of treasure basket activities. And now at the age of 2 years we have progressed from the unstructured bins to structured bins. We have been learning about farm, ocean, trees, washing utensils etc. Themed sensory bin helps in learning about particular subject in more detailed way. It engages child’s all senses in an activity stimulate his senses in ways that requires him to notice and discriminate between the properties of different objects.
The most common concern all parents have is the mess created by these activities. Well, I will be truthful here that this is messy and even I was worried about the mess when I started the sensory bins. After 2- 3 sensory bin accidents I took it as an opportunity (mess) and turned it as learning in disguise. Post every activity I asked my son to put everything in their respective places, mop if there is any spillage and sweep the floor. it gave him great pleasure to be able to do what adults can do. It has become our habit to clean up the area as part of the activity (practical life skill).
If you will search the internet for sensory bin pictures, you might e overwhelmed by seeing those perfectly set up bins, but to be fair most of the things used (perfectly sized animals, plastic tongs, scoopers, droppers etc) are not available in India or if they are then they are quite expensive. Don’t be disheartened rather make the best of the resources you have.
Here is the list of basic things which are required to put up a sensory bin:
While putting together a sensory keep few things in mind:
During the first 5 years baby’s mind is like sponge it absorbs every piece of information and knowledge provided to him. These first few years lays the foundation of your child, spend them wisely!
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