Preschoolers enjoy sensory play and find it a useful way to pick up concepts and solidify ideas. Here are some ways to incorporate sensory play into school or home play.

Play dough

A standard salt play dough recipe of 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of water and 2 cups of flour can make some all-natural non-toxic play dough. Try dying the play dough with natural food dye for an extra pop of colour.

You can print out some simple sight words on A3 laminated page sand numbers and get the children to roll out 'snakes' of play dough and trace the words and numbers over with the play dough. By physically tracing/shaping the words you help to cement the patterns for the children in an interactive manner.

Rainbow oats

Using wholegrain oats, mix one cup of oats with 1.5Tbsp of natural food dye and dry the oats in the sun or in the oven at 50 degrees. The oats are an ideal medium to soak up the colour and the small amount of moisture means they can be dried back into the same shape. Preschoolers love the texture and can mix the colours to create rainbows, and practise tracing shapes and numbers into a sensory tray. They can also be used as a fun textural craft supply to stick onto collages and artworks.

Cornflour slime

Have an energetic little friend on your hands? Cornflour slime is made by mixing two parts cornflour with one part water and food colouring to suit. This slime thickens as force is applied—known as a shear thickening slime. Get your pre-schooler to see how hard they push it as it starts to apply more force back against the mixing force. It's a great way to increase hand strength in kids who are a little weak in the fine motor areas.

Cloud dough

Cloud dough is another wonderfully textured sensory play material, which can be moulded into all sorts of shapes. Use eight parts of flour to one part of oil to create a fluffy play dough. Add an extra sensory impact by adding some scents: try cinnamon space, vanilla essence or eucalyptus oil. Let the kids identify and experiment with mixing the scents to create their favourite scent cloud.

Enjoy watching your children discover and work out new ways on playing with your sensory materials. They'll find many ways to surprise you and come up with play scenes you never would have guessed. For more tips, talk to local resources such as Centenary Hill Pre-School.