Why Kids Need to Play for Real and Importance of Sensory Play

Having digital natives in our home, plus a techie daddy, make it really challenging to reintroduce organic games and active play, just like the games we used to play as kids. Gadgets have become a part of our daily lives so we are not depriving them of that. I can't even stop myself from using my gadgets, that's why I don't think I can tell them to stop either. But there is always a time for everything, and our kids know that. We all recognize the value of playing for real. Active sensorial play enhances a child's holistic development. That's a fact.

Just last week, the girl and I participated in an afternoon event hosted by Johnson's Baby. It allowed her to play outdoors with some friends so I was very happy to bring her along. What greeted us at the venue was more than what we expected, and it was awesome!

As a mom to two active kids below 12, I always welcome a constant stream of ideas and valuable tips on child rearing from fellow moms and experts. That includes getting ideas about playtime. I am guilty of leaving them to watch TV or play with their gadgets when I need them to be "quiet" or "behaved" for a given period.

During the casual talk, the experts revealed that many parents expressed that they don't know how to play anymore. Parang ako yun! My kids even say I'm not fun! Huhuhu... and sadly, they're right. It's like I've lost my imagination to play pretend, or katamaran lang ba
Do you have the same experience?

(L-R) Host Eliza Santiago, Monica Javier, Fiona Sandoval, Kris de Guzman, Trina Tanlapco

Believe it or not, it's really an effort for me to think about what to do at home for fun, or how to play with them. Easy solution is just to bring them to the neighborhood playground. Mas fun daw si daddy, I must admit, it's true. Hence, I was eager to hear what the panel has to share, so I can get fresh ideas and work on becoming a "fun mom" for my kids, heeheehee!

 Active play is integral and essential in the holistic development of children to let them discover the world around them. As a brand committed to the happy, healthy development of children, this is something we would like to keep reminding parents of. With the information and products we offer, parents can let their children turn playtime to a time of learning while they #playforreal. We believe that every activity that a child does can mean so much more to him.
- Trina Tanlapco, Johnson’s Associate Marketing Director

Kudos to Johnson's for this awesome outdoor set-up that accommodated all the kids, allowing them to explore and experience the various sensory play areas which you can see in this photo, and more as you scroll down. 

The girl was ready to play and was happily surprised to see a team of familiar faces from her preschool, who was there to supervise the activities.

"A child reaps the maximum benefits of active play when his senses are enhanced and maximized in these activities. It is important that all the different senses get stimulated in activities like active play during this period so that the neurons and brain connections are formed better. If this is achieved, there will be more synapses and connections, which can optimize the brain development.”
- Fiona Sandoval, licensed clinical psychologist and play therapist

The Twig Box, Magnetic Field, and Farming Box were perfect for tactile and visual senses. They got curious kids digging for earth treasures like stones, twigs, and leaves. The rice field has metal nuts and bolts that has to be magnetized to be revealed. Picking and shoveling corn kernels make a farm bed for the animals.

Sensory activities allow children to go through a scientific process in a very natural way. While playing, they ask questions, predict, make hypothesis, test hypothesis and make conclusions.”
Monica Javier, preschool teacher for over ten years

Use of coffee grounds is a genius way to awaken tactile and olfactory senses. It looks like soil but it's more grainy and moist. Some may associate the smell with mom and dad's morning drink, or breakfast experience. The girls had fun digging and took home a pail with their chosen plant, filled with coffee grounds. That's M with her former pre-school teacher helping her.

Some of the kids' creations, building their own rockets with empty bottles and lots of imagination.

Experiment with liquid and colors. Mix, mix, mix!

I have observed that most of the toddlers and younger kids were drawn towards the hand painting and stamping area, and with water games. They really don't mind making a mess and getting all dirty, and that's cool!

Fun with water. My kids enjoy swimming and taking long showers or baths. I think it's universal that people enjoy the soothing, cooling, and calming sensations that water brings. It was also scorching hot that day so it was doubly fun to make a splash with water from the pails, and directly squirting from the sprinkler to cool them down! They can't get enough of that! =)

What I learned from the experts - Benefits of sensory play:
  • Stimulated senses help achieve holistic development in children
    • Makes children more receptive to learning about the world around him
  • Children develop fine motor, language and cognitive skills
  • Helps children expand their knowledge about themselves
  • Allows communication with others and encourages cooperative play
  • Makes them more imaginative, creative, and resourceful
  • Fosters stronger bond between parent and child
  • Teaches children about different concepts
  • Helps develop new competencies to prepare them for bigger challenges

Other examples of sensorial activities:
  • Blocks - play and explore with blocks to distinguish sizes, colors, shapes, weight; encourage strategic planning with building blocks
  • Painting - paint with different materials or use their hands/feet; develops creativity; learn colors and textures
  • Clay - explore textures, colors, and create various forms and figures
  • Physical movement - run, jump, crawl, or any form of movement will help develop gross motor skills and endurance

“At home, bath time is also playtime for my kids. We play with bubbles, make up stories, and learn about body parts. Through simple activities like this, we are able to make enjoyable moments together and strengthen our connection toward each other.”
- Kris De Guzman, a mother of two

Of course, after their playtime, time to freshen up. A soothing bath is a must after outdoors time. We've been using Johnson's baby bath since they were babies, and my kids have tried them all. I agree with what Kris said, that sensory play balances out other forms of play. And one type of sensory play happens in our tub, with lots and lots of bubbles and a few odd toys.

I'm proud to say that this girl knows how to play for real, and she knows it. Unlike the boy who's more addicted to his iPad, this girl doesn't need to be reminded about taking a gadget break. I also have her school and her teachers to thank for. They're amazing. She has a self-imposed "no gadget day" and play on her own, with whatever toy she finds in their room. She creates an imaginary world, tells her own stories, draw and write books, use all sorts of materials from ribbons, feathers, toothpicks, scraps from boxes and wrappers. The boy, on the one hand, is a work in progress, hahaha!

We can't deny that gadgets can act as learning tools too, but it's through active sensory play when all their five senses are awakened, leading to more discovery and learning from the world around them. Big thanks to Johnson's Baby for tapping me to share the #PlayForReal campaign. I'm all for sensory play. And to better appreciate what I'm talking about, please watch this short video. It's a heartwarming social experiment by Johnson's to see how the kids responded to gadget play vs. real play. Tinamaan ako! =)

Kids #PlayForReal

Naiyak ba kayo? =)
After learning more about the significance of sensory play in my children's growth and development, I'll try to get more involved in their playtime...effort na kung effort. =)  Playtime can mean so much more, so here's to more sensorial activities for kids to #playforreal!

How do you play with your kids? Do they have favorite fun activities?

Learn more about sensory play at home or in school by visiting Johnsons Baby Philippines on Facebook. 

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