MTA showcases sensory resources to enhance children’s skill development
With an ever growing body of research pointing to the value of incorporating sensory materials into the early learning environment to enhance fine motor skills, balance and movement for all children, but especially for those children with additional needs, early childhood education and care (ECEC) services are finding themselves presented with more options than ever before to meet children’s sensory needs.
To meet the demand for carefully curated resources which not only engage children, but represent the best value for money for services, the team from Modern Teaching Aids (MTA) have selected the following resources to showcase some of the best of the market currently available.
Balance and movement
When children engage their vestibular senses and engage with challenges against gravity, they are not only learning to manage difficulties in equilibrium, balance and self regulation, they are also adjusting to typical sensory input – all important ‘building blocks’ for core skills like walking, playing on the playground, engaging in sport, and sitting to do table top activities.
Tools such as these Sensory Balance Pods, which come in a set of eight, featuring four different colours and two different textures, support children both indoors and outdoors to explore tactile sensory processing, balance and coordination.
Balance pods can be used for gross motor activities, combined with active play equipment, or used in group time games.
The Large Body Wheel supports children to roll while lying on their back or stomach, as well as being able to be used while standing. The wheel can support children to learn how their body moves through space, and allows them to explore the sensations of vestibular stimulation in a safe and controlled way.
Finally in this category is this Set of 24 Activity Rings, which support children to develop agility, gross motor skills and coordination. Made from a soft and durable material, they are suitable for children aged three years and up.
As an open ended resource, the use of the brightly coloured rings is limited only by the imagination, with some possible uses including balancing the rings, using them in music and movement activities, combining with other indoor or outdoor resources, or perhaps even for a hybrid hopscotch game.
Fine motor skills
The development and refinement of fine motor skills is a key priority area for many services, given that these skills help children to perform important self help tasks such as feeding, grasping toys, buttoning and zipping clothes, and of course, writing and drawing.
Resources such as Pastel Counting Rods not only solidify core academic skills such as early numeracy (patterning and matching) and colour recognition, but also support the development of fine motor skills as young children grasp the beads and place them on to the self correcting rods.
Crafted from sustainable rubberwood, and painted using non toxic finishes, this resource is suitable for use by children aged two years and up.
The 40 piece Wooden Threading Cotton Reels resource is also suitable for use with younger age groups, rated for children 18 months and older. As well as improving fine motor skills, this resource builds pattern and ordinance knowledge and can be used as a loose parts resource for building or stacking, or even in heuristic play collections.
Finally, these Mosaic Tiles from Masterkidz are simply captivating with beautiful gemstones which are sure to capture children’s attention as they learn about colours, shapes and creativity, all while building and enhancing their fine motor skills.
As well as the visual appeal of the resource, the gemstone tiles offer tactile stimulation as the children explore the pieces. This 38 cm board and associated tiles are suitable for use by children aged three years and above.
Sensory and tactile exploration
An underutilized sensory opportunity in many early childhood settings is scent. The presence of different scents in children’s learning environments can invigorate, calm, inspire, and even support children’s immunity as we head into the cooler months.
The Wellness Aromatherapy Kit resource includes aromatherapy oils and a diffuser. The oils in the kit are Immune Booster Oil (LIV373), Stress Relief Oil (LIV371), and Sniffles & Coughs Oil (LIV364). The diffuser holds 500ml of liquid, and the oils are 10mls.
Continuing the calming theme is the delightful Theo the Therapy Dog, who is the perfect anti anxiety companion, comfortably weighted to support children to cope with stressful situations by providing deep pressure stimulation, warm or cool temperatures, and a soothing lavender scent.
His warm, heavy body feels lifelike, which can help to relieve stress and sharpen focus without the responsibility of caring for a live animal. Theo’s beads, fur, paw-pads, ears, eyes and nose all provide unique textures for tactile exploration.
Colour and visual stimulation
The overhead projector works using a focusing lens, projecting light from an illuminated slide onto a projection screen where an image is formed.
When paired with the colours kit, the projector becomes a glorious STEM or STEAM provocation, inviting children to explore colour, shapes, patterns and combinations of light and shadow.
Overhead projectors are an open ended resource which allows children and educators to work alongside one another to build on children’s needs and interests, allowing them to explore scientific thinking including the ability to make predictions, observations, comparisons, reasoning, experimentation and evaluation.
To learn more about any of the resources featured in this month’s collection, or to arrange an onsite visit, please contact your local MTA consultant, or explore the range online here.