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2 min read

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”
- Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori and other developmental psychologists understood that young children learn using all their senses. 

That’s why the Montessori classrooms offer materials that are rich with sensorial properties - sandpaper letters, kitchen and food prep activities, golden beads, etc

But you don’t need all the technical Montessori materials at home to provide lots of sensory learning opportunities. 

All that you really need is to give your child the time and space for sensory learning. They already know how to do the rest. 

Sensory Play Activities At Home

The best places for sensorial exploration for infants and toddlers are outdoors and in the kitchen. Sensorial exploration happens naturally in these areas. 

Oftentimes a child doesn’t even need instructions or an invitation, they’ll put their hands in the dirt or explore a bowl of flour. It’s almost as if sensorial exploration is calling to them.  

Here are 8 activities that you can encourage in the kitchen or outdoors to promote sensory learning:

  • Sensory Bins 
    • All you have to do is fill a large bin or container filled with loose parts, sand, rocks, dried rice or legumes, fabric swatches, or water, and give your child time to explore.
    • If you’re interested in setting up themed sensory bins or the ones that look more Pinterest-y, go here to check out ourSensory Bin Guide.
  • Nature - spend time outdoors, providing proper outerwear that will allow your child to climb, explore, and get dirty. 
  • Baking - even young children can begin to help with baking. Give your toddler a little bowl of flour with a spoon to explore and mix. 
  • Mealtime - provide a variety of textures and let them explore with their hands, even if they don’t always taste the food. Research shows that sensory play with food can help children become more adventurous eaters (source1,2, and3).
  • Bath time - add plastic containers for scooping and pouring
  • Backyard -  Sit baby in the dirt or grass and let them dig around. They will eat the dirt so watch carefully! You can add some small garden tools for your toddler or older child to dig or weed.
  • Finger painting - make your own oruse a kit like this one
  • Playdough - also great for hand strength, great for preparing the hands to write. 
  • Make a mud kitchen - Offer a few old bowls or pans, some water and a mixing spoon. There's no need for a fancy set up. 

The key is to simply slow down and make time for sensory learning. Instead of hurrying through the day and minimizing the mess, think about all there is to gain by giving your child these experiences. 

And while this does mean that thingswill often get a little messy, remember that they won’t learn like this forever and you can set limits.