Sensory play often targets children's senses of touch, smell, taste, and sight, but less so with their sense of hearing. There are so many ways we can encourage children to ‘check in’ with what they’re hearing and explore and expand on different sound experiences. We can set up more structured ‘music activities’ or it may be things like going outside and listening to natural sounds in a more deliberate way. The key is to be curious yourself and help your child develop an awareness of the hundreds of different sounds we hear in a day.
Why is it important? Sensory music experiences help develop a child’s language, social skills, fine motor skills, and ability to self-soothe (regulate). By exploring different types of sounds, children learn about cause-and-effect and the ways they can impact the environment around them. Engaging in sensory musical experiences is also a fantastic way to connect and have fun with your child!
Where can you do it? Sensory Musical Play can happen anywhere and at any time. Music can be alerting and used to get us energised and excited, or as a way of slowing down our senses to help us become calm or get ready for bedtime. We may listen to the different sounds in the supermarket; play on the pots and pans ‘drums’ while doing the dishes or cooking; or make up fun and silly songs to help with trickier times of the day such as teeth brushing or getting in and out of the car.
What do you need? Your ears and imagination are all that’s needed. Other ‘ingredients’ can include:
pots and pans
boxes and string
Tips to get children involved:
Be curious yourself! Children learn best when we model the activity, as well as letting them explore it themselves. Help your child understand what they’re hearing and experiencing (i.e. “ooh, that was a very big sound wasn’t it? It looked like it gave you a shock! I wonder if we can make little sounds on this instrument/pot/voice/etc as well?”).