Before I dive into the activity, I want to talk a little bit about sensory play. So why sensory play? It has a lot of things stacked up against it: it’s messy, it’s dirty, it can take time to set up…and, oh yeah, you have to clean it up!
BUT when you think about a playground, a children’s museum or even a preschool, what is the one thing they all have in common? Most of the time, the feature attraction involves sensory play. It can be a sand box at the playground, the water area at the museum, or the “sensory box” at the school. And kids love it!
So why is it beneficial to use senses when teaching children new skills? Well, Amanda Morgan at Not Just Cute put it really well:
“Children are wired to receive and utilize sensory input from day one”
Meaning that using their senses is one of the only skills they have had since birth. During the first stages of a child’s life they are making neurological pathways as they understand how their senses work. That is their focus. So when you pair a language activity with a sensory activity, the child is able to make a connection easier because they are able to process it through their senses, which happens to be their strongest skill set.
So I thought, why not start teach my daughter the arabic letters using a sensory activity. Now, like most of you, I don’t like messes and I don’t like to go out and buy material specifically for an activity. So I came up with this sensory activity using only what I had at home: cookie sheet and salt
It’s simple, really – pour salt into a cookie sheet with edges. Make sure it has edges or else you will be vacuming for a while after!
Let the child discover writing and drawing in the salt. It’s the feeling of a sandbox without the sand.
It’s okay if they don’t really draw the letters correctly back – modeling it for them goes a long way. Hearing you say the letter and write it, even if it’s hand over hand, gives them a verbal and textual memory and helps them remember things longer.
When doing the activity with my daughter, I play The Arabic Alphabet song to engage yet another one of her senses: hearing.
Another fun addition is to printout the letters and place it under the salt. The child can “discover” letters by brushing away the salt to reveal them. There are several printables available – the one I’ve linked to is the first one I found.
Tip: If your kid doesn’t like touching sand/salt. Hand them the eraser part of a pencil to use instead!
How did you introduce Arabic Alphabets to your children? Do you use sensory activities at home?