Sensory play is important to brain development, not just for babies and toddlers but also for preschoolers, kindergarteners and children within the early years of school. Playful activities that develop each of the senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste – need not be difficult or involve lots of fancy toys or resources, often the simplest of materials from around the home or classroom suffice. The following five activities use little more than a feather, a scarf, your voice and your touch.
5 Games to Develop the Sense of Touch
1. Feather tickle
A favourite with my toddler, this game involves simply tickling parts of the body with a feather. As you tickle each body part, name it. Allow your child to have a turn to tickle you too.
2. Finger plays
Common finger plays are fun for little ones but preschoolers and kindergartners enjoy them too. Try;
This Little Piggy
This little piggy went to market, (wiggle your child’s big toe)
This little piggy stayed home, (wiggle the next toe)
This little piggy had roast beef, (wiggle the middle toe)
This little piggy had none, (wiggle the next toe)
And this little piggy ran all the way home! (start off wiggling the littlest toe and then tickle your fingers around the foot, up the leg and body to the underarm).
Round and Round the Haystack
Round and round the haystack, (run your index finger around the palm of your child’s hand)
Ran the little mouse, (continue as above)
One step, two step, (touch your child’s arm midway between the wrist and inside elbow and again inside the elbow)
Into his little house. (run your fingers up the top of your child’s arm and tickle under the armpit).
Slowly, slowly, very slowly, creeps the garden snail, (slide your index finger slowly up the inside of your child’s are, from their wrist to their elbow)
Slowly, slowly, very slowly , up the wooden rail.
Quickly, quickly, very quickly runs the little mouse, (run your fingers up the inside of their arm from their elbow to their armpit)
Quickly, quickly, very quickly ’round about the house. (tickle under your child’s armpit).
3. Jack in the Box
Ask your child to lie face down in a child’s pose. Cover them lightly with a large scarf or small, lightweight blanket. Place your hands on their back momentarily to help encourage them to lie still. Chant slowly;
Jack is quiet down in his box,
Until someone opens the…. lid (encourage your child to jump up from under the cover on the word lid).
4. Tickly Rain
I first heard the song Tickly Rain at a music and movement class with Immy when she was about two and a half. It reminded me of infant massage, something that we had done little of since she was a young toddler. The actions are very simple – have your child sit on your lap or in front of you and then make a gentle pitter patter motion with your fingers, touching each part of the body mentioned in the song. On the line “It’s raining again,” gently sweep your fingers from your child’s head, down over their shoulders and down their back. With the words, “Drip drop,” touch your fingers a little more firmly to random parts of your child’s body. It really is a lovely song to enjoy together. (From the Teddy Jumps album by Kids Music Company. You can listen to a sample and purchase the song here on iTunes).
5. Draw on your back
A simple game for quiet touch and bonding with preschoolers and older children, simply take turns drawing with your finger on each others backs. Try to guess what the other person is drawing or writing. The level of difficulty is easily adjusted by modifying what you ‘draw’ – start with shapes for young children, progress through letters of their name, numbers, letters of alphabet, phonic blends and addition or subtraction sums.
Activities to develop your child’s sense of touch aid physical development (body awareness), their sense of safety, language acquisition and emotional health. Plus they are lots of fun and provide a wonderful opportunity for you to bond with each other.
Do you have any simple games or activities to add to this list?
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