What is a Sensory Box?
It is a collection of objects for children to explore that are organised into categories according to the physical senses. But why separate the senses? Surely children investigate any object using all their senses at once?
By focusing the attention on one sense at a time, awareness of that sense increases without the distracting bombardment of input from the other senses. For example, shut your eyes and pick up a pine cone. Allow yourself to feel its texture as if for the first time. Really focus and concentrate on the sensation through your fingertips.
Did you notice any background noises or smells while you did this? The other senses temporarily seemed to shut off. We have learned to filter out unecessary input. But a small child can get confused by too much going on at once. Have you noticed how easily distracted they can be? A baby is often overstimulated and distressed by too many people or too much noise. Maybe it gets confusing trying to process multiple pieces of information all coming in at the same time. So it might be helpful to keep activities simple at first. One thing at a time, and allow time to digest and for new brain connections to form and strengthen. This a Montessori way of learning.
Watch next time your baby investigates a single object. They will probably forget to swallow, and drool a bit. See the faraway look in their eyes when your child listens to music or a story. Their sight seems to switch off, their mouths fall open and they enter another world. At these times their brain is processing the new information and pattern matching it to data already recorded, whether it is a sensation, a song, an idea or a new taste. Neurons are connecting in the brain before your very eyes.
So I decided to maximise these precious moments when new brain connections are formed, and created a Light Box for stimulating the sense of sight, a Smell Box for facilitating olfactory awareness, some Tasting Games for encouraging sensitivity to different flavours, a Feely Box for increasing discernment of different textures and materials and a Sound Box for widening the world of sounds and fine-tuning the sense of hearing.
The children seem to enjoy it!