Using Their Senses to Improve Their Skills

Two students dig through rice to fine objects

Little hands dug through a rice bath, tiny fingers painted with chocolate pudding and entire bodies crawled through a tunnel during a celebration of Sensory Awareness Day at Bayville Primary School. An array of sensory-based activities provided students with opportunities to experience the benefits of sensory stimulation.

Occupational therapist Dr. Doreit S. Bailer created a sensory awareness room where children rotated through multiple stations that required them to use their senses to complete various tasks. “Multisensory environments improve the development of thought, intelligence and social skills, offering those with cognitive impairments and other challenging conditions the opportunity to enjoy and control a variety of sensory experiences,” Dr. Bailer said. She added that multisensory environments generate a relaxing and calming effect and activate different perception areas aimed at basal stimulation for those that are neurologically impaired.

A tub filled with rice contained hidden objects that children had to find using not only their sense of touch, but also their vision to look at cards identifying the objects they needed to find. Crawling through a giant tunnel helped them gain spatial awareness of their own bodies in relationship to the environment. Using their fingers to create artistic designs in shaving cream was not only fun but helped improve fine motor skills. Pinching, pouring and lacing movements are also common ways to build fine motor skills, such as when participants pinched chopsticks to sort a bowl of foam pieces by color.

Bayville Primary School Assistant Principal Dorothy McManus said the activities these students experienced during the sensory awareness program provided them many benefits. “The children thought it was a fun, special event and the benefits they gained were a bonus.”