Your sense of touch allows you to discover how the world around you feels. Your skin is packed with millions of sensory nerve receptors of various kinds and each type responds to different sensations. They can tell you if something is hot or cold, dull or sharp, rough or smooth, wet or dry. These receptors transmit what is felt on the skin up to the brain which is then able to interpret what to do with what we feel. For example, when you touch a hot object, the signal will be sent to your brain, and the brain will quickly send a message back to your hand to stop touching the hot object. Although your brain receives messages all the time, it filters out the less important ones. That’s why you are not constantly aware of the clothes against your skin. The most sensitive parts of your skin have the most touch receptors in them. Your fingertips, lips and toes are all very sensitive.
Fun fact- nerves carry thousands of signals every second from the touch receptors to the sensory area of the brain.
- Feely bags- choose a variety of items from around the house and put them, one at a time, inside a bag or a box ensuring your child cannot see the object. Ask them to use as many words to describe the object as possible before guessing what it is. Is it soft, hard, rough, smooth, sticky, thin, thick, wet, slimy, dry, big, small, cold, hot, heavy, light etc? For example, a polished rock could be described as: hard, smooth, heavy, cold, and small.
- Touch receptors- which parts of your body have the most receptors and are most sensitive? Blind fold your child or ask them to close their eyes then, using a very light touch, tap your child in the following places: forehead, nose, lips, cheek, ear, neck, collarbone, arm, finger tip, palm, back of hand, inside of wrist, stomach, back, leg, top of foot, sole of foot, toes. Ask them to identify the body part as you touch it then at the end ask them to identify where they felt the sensation the strongest and the weakest.
- Textured playdough- try adding rock salt, rice, lentils, split peas, sawdust or sand to your usual playdough recipe and discuss how it feels while playing.
- Sensory footpath- create a circle of different sensory items for your child to walk through. I have done this previously by putting large trays on the ground and filling them with sand, soil, water, jelly, rice, spaghetti, grass, beans, gloop etc. Each time the child went round the circuit they had to think of a different word to describe what their feet were feeling. If you don’t have trays you could use large Tupperware tubs, shape some kitchen foil into a tray shape or (to be slightly more environmentally friendly) if you use natural materials just put it straight onto the garden path and hose it off later.
- Touch and feel book- glue various items such as cotton wool, a nail file, sand etc on to paper then write down as many words as you can think of to describe these objects. You could link this to the feely bag game and ask your child to draw the objects they felt or stick in photos of the objects and write down all the words that were used to describe them.
- Drawing on your back- to emphasise that we feel using all of our skin and not just our hands, tape a piece of paper to your child’s back then draw a picture on the paper and ask them to draw the same picture on a piece of paper in front of them just by feeling and copying your movements. Start simple by just drawing a circle, a triangle etc then you can get as creative as like. Swap around and have your child draw on your back. Comparing the two pictures should provide some interesting results and a few laughs!
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