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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 60 Spring 2015
15 REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SPRING 2015 - ISSUE 60 Some sensory and messy activities may seem too basic to be important. A baby lying on grass for the first time, or feeling the wind outside are simple occurrences, but it is experiences such as these that lay the foundations for children's learning and development. A baby may find new experiences confusing and this may give rise to feelings of uncertainty (Doorley, 2015) and some babies, in particular, will need to be supported and reassured while they accommodate and adjust to new experiences. As babies and infants become more comfortable and familiar with their senses, educators can provide more in-depth and intentional sensory opportunities. Playdough on it's own is a great and easy way to introduce something new to children's senses. By adding different colours, smells and textures we are offering children new tactile and sensory learning experiences. Providing tools for the children at the dough table is a good extension to the experience, although we should never underestimate the abundance of learning that takes place when children manipulate dough with their hands. Playing with the dough contributes to developing hand muscles and other fine motor skills. Supporting children to use words to describe the motions they are using such as squeezing, squishing and rolling and to talk about what they are feeling helps to extend children's vocabulary and to verbalise their ideas. Supervised water play is 'awash' with experiences for developing children's senses as well as providing opportunities for learning in other areas. Using measuring cups in water play contributes to children's awareness of mathematical theories, such as how many cups of water fit in the bucket and what cup is bigger and which is smaller. By asking open-ended questions during these activities, educators provide children with opportunities to create their own theories and by observing children's participation in an activity, learning experience can be extended. Just as with playdough, educators can add colours, smells and textures to provide points of difference. Water play is very versatile and can be adapted endlessly. By adding whales, turtles and fish, we can extend the learning to be about sea animals. By adding dolls, clothes and towels we can extend the learning experience in another direction. By providing a trough full of water (or access to a hose) and watering cans, we can provide opportunity for children to explore and water the garden, therefore encouraging children to care for their natural environment and contribute to sustaining the environment. Sensory play is something that can be provided each day allowing for open-ended participation. The magic of sensory play is that it is something that is continually evolving, to suit any environment or age, and can be integrated into every child's learning interests. Opportunities to engage senses are present everywhere, from the smell of lunch cooking, the sound of the rain on the roof, the feeling of sand between toes, to the sight of a parent collecting a child at the end of the day. Senses and sensory play contribute to many learning outcomes outlined in the Early Years Learning Framework. Let's all take time to smell the roses, listen to birds and watch the beauty of a child engaging in play. And in relation to messy play, lets make the fear of mess a thing of the past. Let's embrace the magic of senses and of messy play, and spread that magic around.
Reflections Issue 59 Winter 2015
Reflections Issue 61, 2015