‘How am I going to keep the kids entertained during these school holidays?’ If you’re a parent, this is likely the question on your mind right now — especially if you’re preparing for the possibility of another lockdown. Because, as easy as it would be to give them a phone or iPad or put them in front of the TV, it’s not the most nurturing option for their growing minds and bodies.
You need an inventory of fun activities that are going to allow them to learn, grow and explore. The good news is, you don’t need to organise playdates or elaborate activities for every day of the week in order to do this. With just a few simple materials, you can organise multisensory activities at home that keep the kids busy and engaged for hours. These are activities that engage multiple senses at a time — for example, sight, smell, feeling, and taste — which assists with whole-brain learning and builds important skills.
Keep reading for 5 easy multisensory activities for kids that combine play and learning.
Play with clay
Who doesn’t love to roll up their sleeves and get their hands busy with some dough? This is an excellent tactile activity for kids that you can also combine with the other senses. You can make your own DIY play-dough at home by mixing flour, salt, oil, food colouring, and cold water. Knead it all together and you’ll have the perfect multisensory tool that should keep for at least a month.
You can also add some scented essential oils into the playdough mix, and ask the kids to describe what they can smell. Or, you could turn it into an game of Pictionary, where the kids have to use the clay to build things and the other person has to guess what it is. The options are endless!
This engaging activity combines phonic learning with touch to help the kids work on their spelling! All you’ll need is a large tray (baking trays work perfectly) and a powdery texture. such as baking powder flour or sand. You can also use wet materials like shaving cream instead. Then, give the kids words to trace out in the mixture. It’s just like a whiteboard (in that they can easily wipe it out if they make a mistake and start again), only way more fun! To elevate it into an even more multisensory activity, you could also add cinnamon, garlic powder, or essential oils to scent the mix.
Make craft with leaves
Craft is always a great way to keep little hands and minds stimulated. But, with a few simple updates, you can make it an even more multisensory experience. Before the kids get crafty, ask them to collect some leaves, sticks, and other interesting materials from the garden. This alone will occupy them for hours!
Then, once they have their toolkit, they can combine them with other supplies like paper, crayons, and stickers to create works of art. Ask them to pay extra attention to their senses and express what they notice — such as the crunching sound of the leaves, or the earthy smell of a rock.
Create a sensory bin
Here’s an activity you can set up once, then keep the kids entertained for hours or even whole days with minimal supervision. Think of it as your one-stop-shop for all things multisensory!
A sensory bin includes small, interesting materials that will ignite the kids’ various senses. The best part is, you can build it with things you have around the house. Pasta, cotton balls, sand, rice, slime, and even plastic toys all make great additions to a sensory box. You can also include some of the other things you’ve already prepared from this list, like the clay.
Don’t forget to also add some tools like bowls, mixing spoons and plastic cups — these will help the kids play with their materials. Put them all in a box or plastic bin and pull them out any time the kids complain of being bored.
Have a balloon bath
With the weather heating up, this is the perfect multisensory activity for those days where it’s too hot to do anything else up. Simply fill up a bathtub or inflatable swimming pool with cool to lukewarm water.
Then, get the kids to help you fill-up the balloons with cold water, and tie them with knots. The kids will have a blast squeezing, dodging, and squelching the balloons! To make it a more educational activity, get the kids to describe what they can hear and feel. And, if you’re feeling particularly brave, you can even fill the balloons with food dye and get the kids to pop them in the bath (just be prepared for some clean up afterwards.)
These multisensory play activities are so fun and engaging, the kids won’t even realise they’re learning. Give them a try these school holidays, and beyond.