How do I ‘un-messy’ sensory play for my child

Sensory play can be a super fun experience. It makes play come alive with colours, textures and sometimes, smells. It’s no wonder that any child can spend quite a long time just getting busy with a well-curated sensory bin.

But maybe sensory play can be daunting due to the potential mess it creates. And for all you tired parents out there, having to deal with a mess anytime during the day is such a big turn-off.

messy kid

We hear you. And yes, we super feel you. So here’s 2 big tricks that can help ‘un-messy’ your child’s play experience.

Tip 1: Start small

Think about it. Your child is being served a whole tray of coloured interesting goodies. His/her excitement meter is going to be off the charts. And the next thing that he/she is going to do is start flinging those coloured beauties all over the house and you’re going to end up with a mess that you will hate cleaning up.

small portion sensory play

So start small! If your child is new to sensory play, present activities in small portions instead of a whole tray. For example, on a tray, place a small bowl of coloured beans, another container, a spoon and two toys. In this set-up, your child starts off with a small amount of beans to be played alongside the other materials provided. By working small, you get the opportunity to focus on instilling positive play behaviours and strengthening various fine motor skills. At the same time, the tray catches any spills made. So any mess made is small (because there’s less beans now) and clean-up becomes manageable.

Once your child presents fair fine motor skills and has developed positive play behaviours, you may start expanding your sensory play set-up maybe first to a larger bowl before going on to a whole tray.

Tip 2: Encourage clean-up after self

This tip works hand in hand with the first tip above. Working small allows you to demonstrate and encourage your child to clean up any spills made during scooping or transferring. It is a habit that your child will learn to display well for other play experiences. As with nurturing any habit, starting small is always good.

Child clean up after play

At the end of the sensory play, have a mini dustpan and broom on the ready for your child to sweep up any mess made. Demonstrate using the dustpan and broom, then allow your child to have a go at it. While they may not be able to sweep every single grain or bean that has dropped out from the tray, the idea is for them to get used to cleaning up any spills made from play. Knowing that they are expected to sweep up spills after play makes them more aware not to make as many spills as before during play. At the same time, being responsible for their play area in terms of keeping it tidy after play allows you some breather. There’s no need for you to be cleaning everything up on your own.

So there you have it! Two super tips for you to conquer sensory play!

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