Nature’s Touch – An Outdoor Sensory Play Activity for Kids
Sensory Play is such an important way to teach kids about senses in early childhood development. Touch is one of the most used for kids I feel and this Nature's Touch: Scavenger Hunt activity does just that. It allows them to explore our world in a creative, imaginative, and adventurous way. See here why sensory play and being outdoors in nature is so important as well as how to grab this FREE activity.
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WHY IS SENSORY PLAY SO IMPORTANT
Sensory play includes activities that help develop the 5 senses: touch, smell, taste, hearing, and seeing. According to Educational Playcare you can also add balance and body awareness as part of the different senses. The importance of developing these senses is to help get your child used to the different environments around them. This can be feeling something slimy or being okay to be around loud noises.
Let me give you an example. If you let your child is a picky eater and doesn't like certain textures of food, having her play with those textures during early development will open her up to this texture and eventually teach her to start trusting it. Some parents use this for spaghetti like it has a wet texture. They will dye some spaghetti and let them play with it in a bin helping them to smell, touch, and play with it.
LETS TALK ABOUT TOUCH!
In this article I want to go more into detail about touch though. It is important for a child at a young age to become aware of the things they touch. Things that are wet, cold, hot, sharp, rough... you name it. The list goes on. Touch is a very important one. Kids are always touching everything they see.
When we are at home or outside, my daughters are always picking up rocks, playing with the mud, collecting acorns, and just grabbing everything they can get their hands on. That's great! Let them pick things up and be little explorers but do it cautiously too. You wouldn't want to pick up the wrong thing.
This is why it is important to do these sensory activities. They can learn about the different textures through sight and touch. For instance, you can take a thorny branch and show them that the thorns are sharp and pointy but the stem is soft by carefully showing them (sight) and letting them gently touch the safe areas (touch). By doing so they are also developing body awareness.
According to Educational Playcare, body awareness is the feedback our brains receive from stretch receptors in our muscles and pressure receptors in joints which enable us to gain a sense where our bodies are in space.
WHY IS BEING OUTSIDE IN NATURE IMPORTANT FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES
Being outdoors can be so helpful to every single one of us in so many different ways. In today's technological society we have found ourselves indoors more than we are outdoors. From TV's, tablets, laptops, and even cellphones. Growing up I remember always being outside running up and down the streets with my brothers. We would ride bike, skateboard, and even build the flimsiest of ramps to jump them. When we lived with out grandmother in Puerto Rico, we would climb trees and play in the woods for hours making mud pies, digging holes, and even capturing lizards. Now a days the lifestyle is very different but despite it all, we should still find balance between being indoors and outdoors.
NATURE DEFICIT DISORDER
Did you even know that was such a thing? Yes! I had no idea till I started doing more research on sensory play and the importance of early childhood development. I'm not a professional at this topic but definitely want to share what I have learned with you all. First of all, don't freak out. It's not something serious as it sounds. It's not a disease or something awful like that. In fact this disorder is more of a rhetorical term as they put it.
In recent studies about the difference between indoor play and outdoor play, the study focused more on what the child can gain from playing outside versus inside. According to these gains is where this so called disorder comes to play. According to the Children & Nature Network, "an expanding body of scientific evidence suggests that nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the “epidemic of inactivity,” and to a devaluing of independent play. Nonetheless, we believe that society’s nature-deficit disorder can be reversed."
If you are into reading then "Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Richard Louv is the perfect book for you to learn more about this topic.
WHY NATURE IS GOOD FOR KIDS, AND YOU!
Its not just about scientific evidence suggested above. You and your kids can gain so much from nature. Some of these include:
** Referenced below **
NATURE'S TOUCH ACTIVITY GAME ** FREE DOWNLOAD **
Ready to get outside? Let's make it fun! We love going out in nature and exploring but along with their cute and creative imaginations, I like add a little education and sensory play into the mix. I recently created this fun Nature's Touch: Scavenger Hunt that will help your children play with nature and learn about the different types of textures that they can find. From wet mud, rugged rocks, to even crinkly leaves.
You can find out FREE Nature's Touch: Scavenger Hunt in our Resource Library. Just enter your name and email below and you will receive the password directly to your inbox granting you access to not just this fun nature activity but many more.
ITS NEVER TOO LATE TO GET OUT IN NATURE!
It's not too late. Get out there with your kids. Enjoy the small and big things that nature has to offer. Make it fun and interactive. I always find that you can make the greatest memories when you are outdoors and not in front of a screen.
What other activities would you like to see in our Resource Library? Let me know in the comments below.
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- Why Sensory Play is Important for Development
- Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature
- Nature Deficit Disorder
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