Ritwik ( like all other babies) have always shown more interest in household items, boxes, labels, leaves, textured clothes, bottles, dough, paper, tissues etc than his own set of plastic, electronic or soft toys. We bought couple of expensive toys for him only to realize that he was more interested to play with spoons and bowls and remote controls! (Read my experience of buying an expensive toy, and regretting it here 😉 ). So i started doing my own research, and came across this term called Heuristic Play – which is deeply rooted in young children’s natural curiosity. Toddlers have an urge and curiosity to explore, touch and feel objects that they find adults handling / using – be it household stuff or kitchen utensils. They are more inquisitive to play with a “sensory-box” over an actual toy. Well the deal is really simple – Give your tot a gift and he / she is more likely to be interested in the box, wrapping paper, ribbons, tags etc than the actual toy!
Our parents and grandparents never really had to do their research on this…ask them and they will tell you about the kitchen spoons and bowls that they used to give you to play with…the way they used to let you enjoy feeling the texture of onions and potatoes…i remember making mud toys in my garden with my maid’s daughter! We were never really pampered with all these expensive toys that you see in the market today. We used our own imagination and creativity to create doll houses and tents with scarves and dupattas! My mother used to let me play with dough – and i used to enjoy molding it into varied shapes.
Ritwik’s play area was piling up with toys that he never really gave a second glance at! So one fine day i decided to dump them all in big cartons and bid them bye-bye (at least till he reaches a stage where he appreciates playing with them). For now it is all about exploring, touching and developing his own imagination & creativity for my one year old munchkin.
So what is a sensory box? Create a box with interesting objects like household items, kitchen ware, textured materials etc and present it to your baby and allow him/ her to explore it. If they show no interest in it, that is ok too! Just give them space and time to enjoy it their way sometime later! I do not really like to add actual toys to these boxes as the whole idea is to expose the babies to objects that we find in and around the house. Give this box to your kiddo few times a week (not everyday!) to make it more interesting and exciting, and you can every now and then add newer things to the basket to make it more novel! Let your baby explore the objects on her own, without you guiding her on what to do with it, or how to use it…let her become a “little explorer!”. There is no right way of creating a sensory box…you can invent several ones as per your baby’s style and preference! It is all about letting the baby enjoy an “exploratory play” and develop her senses!
Here are some of the sensory boxes that i have created for Ritwik so far:
Textured Sensory Box – My twitter friend Vikki Moore
@babysensorybr3 suggested this one to me. So basically i filled up this box with lot of textured items – woolens, mittens, silks, socks, fur, textured scarves, loofah etc!
Treasure Basket – i filled in the basket with lot of interesting stuff that Ritwik is really fond of – sponges, powder puff, felt cloths, sieve, soap case, name tags etc…i also customized the basket and called it ‘Ritwik’s treasure basket’ 🙂
Pick-up from a Tissue box – Ritwik totally loves to dig into this box and remove the items from inside. After exploring and playing with them, he will put them back in too! I have filled the tissue box with papers of various textures, small pouches, baby shoes, satin slashes etc!
Magnetic Box – Ritwik currently has an obsession with magnets! He loves to stick them onto fridge and steel cupboards…so i thought why not create a magnet-box for him to play with. I used a cookie box on which the magnets stick easily! I put loads of fun and colorful magnets in the box..my lil baby loves to stick these onto the lid or inside of the box!
I also created sensory boxes as return gifts for my baby boy’s first birthday toddler house party. Read my post on that here.
Do write in to me in case you have any more exploratory-play ideas or have created sensory boxes for your lil one! Till then, happy parenting 🙂
P.S: Always make sure that your baby plays under your supervision, and never include any objects in the box that maybe harmful for your baby or something that may be a choking hazard.