Sensory paths! What the heck are those?
A sensory path is a colorful, creative and playful way for kids to build sensory pathways, connections in the brain that are responsible for sight, touch, sound, etc., which enable kids to complete complex, multi-stage tasks. A sensory path is a great way for kids to develop motor skills like balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness, and is normally made with stickers that can be stuck to any surface.
A typical sensory pathway, like our Stick-On Stencil Nature Set, consists of several exercises specifically designed to develop the motor skills I mentioned above. Some, like the Daisy Hopscotch or Tree Pose, help with balance. Others, like March Ants, aid with spatial awareness. The high-energy nature of many of these exercises, which require kids to hop, step, and jump, can also be a great “brain break” throughout the school day. Sensory paths are the perfect mid-morning or post-lunch break, especially if your school doesn’t have access to indoor or outdoor recess.
Sensory paths are also an important part of a concept called sensory play, which is exactly what it sounds like: play designed to stimulate and improve your child’s five senses. This can be play designed to improve sense of smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight, but also balance and spatial awareness like I mentioned above. Examples of sensory play can include anything from playing in a sandbox (stimulating touch) to exploring candy (or veggies!) in a box (stimulating touch, smell, and taste).
In addition to helping kids become aware of their own senses, sensory play (and, by definition, sensory pathways) also function as an excellent “brain break.” High-intensity activities like a sensory pathway get the blood pumping, helping children to sit still and focus for longer periods of time in the classroom. But don’t just take our word for it.
“[Sensory Pathways] assist those that need to increase their energy and arousal level as well as those who need to calm and organize their bodies,” said Pepper Franchina-Gallagher, BS/MS OTR/L, owner of Coastal Kids Occupational Therapy in Kennebunk, Maine. “Not to mention the added benefits of focus, academics and physical coordination while encouraging socialization and problem solving skills!”
What are some examples of sensory play at your school? Do you have a sensory path? Let us know!