Updated: Aug 7
What are Sensory motor Skills ? Sensory Motor Play Sensory skills involve your 5 senses: smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight. It also involves balance and spatial awareness. Whilst motor skills involve movements such as coordination of both sides of your body, muscle strength, fine motor skills, rhythm and timing. Also known as sensorimotor skills; Sensory motor skills provide the foundation for children’s development and both sensory and motor skills work together well and are linked to learning and behaviour. Within children sensory motor skills are techniques that help them move and interact the world around them, these skills are most beneficial from birth to around 2 years of age but is great to continue sensory motor play for years to come!
Why are sensory motor skills important? These skills encourage a child’s learning journey through curiosity, problem solving, creativity and exploration. Sensory motor skills comprise of:
1. Spatial awareness → which is important for the development of visual motor skills which are essential for learning how to write and important for social interaction. These skills are also essential when older too as we use it a lot when driving!
2. Laterality → knowing your left from rights as well as how to cross the midline of your body, these skills are essential for reading and writing
3. Balance → Sensory motor skills has been known to develop good balance through the inner ear
4. Centering → Without centering children tend to walk as if both their legs work independently from one another therefore encouraging good sensorimotor skills from a young age increases their coordination and reduces overwhelming feelings in the future.
Activities for Sensory Motor Play
Going on a texture walk: go out with the aim to find lots of things with different textures. For example ‘Can you find something that feels bumpy/ soft/ spikey’
Sand box: something that they can put their hands and feet into, where they can dig. If you don’t have sand or your baby is very young you can blend cereal into really fine grains. You can also hide things in the sand for your child to go digging.
Tummy time: is fantastic for babies, it allows them to experience different textures on their hands and allows gross motor movement for pushing up on their hands, rolling etc
Blowing whistles: or bubbles or even having a cotton ball race to develop good breath control.
Make shadow puppets: to help with fine motor movement and to understand the visual changes that come with light.
Petting animals: Brings calmness and exposure to soft fur textures
Walking like a crab: on all fours upside down lets their hands and feet experience different surfaces as well as encourage good core strength
Playing catch: with different textured objects such as stuffed animals, oranges, frisbees, or balloons helping develop catching skills as well as exposure to different textures
Balance beams: go to the local park and find something to balance on, you can also do this at home by placing a strip of masking tape on the floor and challenge your child to walk along the line
Plant a herb garden: The exposure to different texture and aroma of plants here is great as well as the benefits of learning about food growth and being patient.