Weekend Sensory Play Time! – Part 2

Weekend Sensory Play Time! – Part 2

Feeling stuck on what to do with your child this weekend? Need a little INSPIRATION?

Well, you are in luck! This is a second part to this fun segment. It includes weekly activities for you to play with your child. Sensory experiences are important for every single child. These activities provide the opportunity to explore and develop their sensory systems. They can be done any time and aim to inspire and guarantee a fun time.  Each week you and your child will have the opportunity to experiment, explore and live a Sensory Lifestyle.

As each child has different sensory preferences I will include tips on how to modify the activities where appropriate.

So let’s get started!

Week 1 Sensory Play

Spice Imprint

Spice Imprint

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, bilateral coordination and hand eye coordination skills Tactile, olfactory (smell) and visual senses

How to play:

Equipment needed: Black contact paper, spices of various colors (e.g. curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, ground rosemary, cayenne, ground pepper) and differently shaped items (e.g. leaves, sticks, shells, small rocks).

First cut out a small piece of contact paper. Let your child place any item onto it. Then, sprinkle the spices all over it and the contact paper. Once completed take away the item and see the beautiful imprint left behind.

Week 2 Sensory Play

Painting with Jell-o

Jello Painting

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills (finger isolation), bilateral coordination and hand eye coordination skills Tactile, gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell) and visual senses

How to play:

To get going with this delicious activity get yourself some Jell-O. I would recommend a few flavors to get a few colors going. Then in individual containers mix a few spoonfuls of jell-o with some water. You want the consistency to be more like paint than water. This means add only a very small amount of water. Start with few teaspoons and watch the consistency as you mix it.

Once you have your jell-o paint ready give them some white paper and have them create with the colors you provided. It really is an open ended activity to create what they want.  You just gave them an alternative to use as a paint.

We also know that some may sneak in a taste test! Enjoy!

Week 3 Sensory Play

Mud Kitchen

Mud Kitchen Fun

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination and cooking skills 😉  Tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

This is a fun open ended activity that allows for lots of exploration and experimentation.

Equipment Needed: Dirt, water, bucket, play kitchen cookware (pots, pans and cooking utensils), sticks, leaves.

Once you provided the above equipment let them have fun mixing dirt and water and playing kitchen.

Week 4 Sensory Play

Bowling tricks

Bowling tricks

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Balance, motor planning, hand eye coordination, foot eye coordination, core strength, upper body strength Vestibular and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

Here is a fun twist on the standard bowling game. The traditional way to play bowling is to knock down the bowling pins while rolling the ball forward. This is usually done standing upright. This game mixes things up a bit. You still have to knock down the bowling pins but this time try doing it using these alternatives:

  • Knock down the pins by kicking the ball forward.
  • Turn away from the bowling pins making a wide stance. Then bend down and throw the ball at the bowling pins through the gap between your legs.
  • Lie down on your belly and roll the ball forward towards the bowling pins.
  • Sit on the floor, put your hands flat and lift your bottom off the floor. Once in position kick the ball forward knocking the bowling pins.

Do you have any other ideas? Feel free to add them to the comments below.

Week 5 Sensory Play

Play dough with Mr Potato Head

Mr Potato head

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand strength, hand eye coordination, bilateral integration and body awareness

Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Play dough is one of those awesome activities that has endless amount of benefits. The benefits depend on what and how you play with play dough. This week’s skills aim to support the fine motor skills as well as building body awareness.

How? By adding Mr Potato Head parts to the mix.

Let your toddler explore through placing the eyes, the mouth, the ears onto the play dough. See what they will create. Initially their creations might be very abstract. Encourage them to look at your face or their friend’s face and ask questions about where their eyes go? Do they go at the top of their face or the bottom? Where should we put the nose or the arms?

Let them explore and have fun!

For more fun play dough activities check out my play dough post.

My favorite no–cook Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients
• 2 cups plain flour
• ½ cup salt
• 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 ½ cups of boiling water
• Food coloring

What to do
1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
2. In another bowl add water and mix it with food coloring
3. Add both mixtures together
4. Stir until combined (it may still be sticky)
5. Allow it to rest
6. Take it out of the bowl and knead it until the stickiness is gone
7. If after a few minutes of kneading it’s still sticky then keep adding small amounts of flour. Keep adding until you have reached perfect play dough consistency.

Week 6 Sensory Play

Potato Stamping

potato stamping

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Visual perception and hand eye coordination skills. Tactile and visual senses.

How to play

This is such a fun activity. Cut potatoes in half. Then carve out few shapes. See examples above.

Then let your child run wild stamping away and creating a masterpiece.

Week 7 Sensory Play

Exploring the outdoors

Exploring outdoors

This is a must! The opportunities for experiences and growth are endless. Whether it’s a park, playground or a beach. Every sensory system will benefit. As their sensory system develops, they strengthen all their skills including fine and gross motor skills. Check out my post on Exploring the outdoors for specific play ideas.

Week 8 Sensory Play

Messy Play: Fun with mashed potatoes

Colored Mashed potato

 

Skills developed

Targeted senses

Fine motor skills, eye hand coordination and motor planning Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Equipment needed: mashed potatoes, food coloring, variety of containers and utensils.

First, boil your potatoes. Then mash, and add food coloring. I like to divide the potatoes so I can use more than one color. It is also fun watching them mix them up and see how colors change.

When mashing the potatoes, don’t worry about doing a perfectly smooth mash. A few lumps are good for the extra tactile sensation.

You can get really creative with what you can do here. Some examples include:

–       Explore with hands

–       Explore with feet

–       Manipulate the potatoes with a variety of objects or utensils

–       Move between containers

–       Find hidden objects

–       Create large balls/towers/shapes and then squish and destroy them

Week 9 Sensory Play

Messy Play: Gelatin sensory tub

gelatin play collage

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Hand skills, hand eye coordination and bilateral coordination Tactile and visual senses

How to play

Once you have purchased the Gelatin follow the instructions on the box on how to make it.

Then simply cut it into small cubes and place it into a ‘sensory tub’ or what I also call a plastic container.

You can then let your little one run wild and explore the textures and shapes with their hands or even feet. You can also add a variety of containers, spoons and cups for extra creativity and experimentation.

Week 10 Sensory Play

Textured Collage

textured collage

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination and attention Visual, tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

Equipment needed: Large construction or card board paper, glue, scissors, textured materials (sponge, yarn, tissue paper, pom poms, various textured papers etc.).

Get all the materials set up and ready. Depending on your child’s age you may want to encourage them to cut few materials into smaller pieces while practicing their scissor skills. Then just let them paste and create.

Occupational Therapy Tip:

For the little ones who are too young to use glue you can use contact paper sticky side up as your canvas.

Enjoy creating!

 

Week 11 Sensory Play

Read & Play

Read & play activity

Reading to your child has many benefits. Some of which include:

  • Promoting listening skills
  • Increasing language development
  • Assisting in the development of attention span and memory
  • Promoting bonding between you and your toddler
  • Instilling the love of reading

A fun way to expand on the reading activity is to make it more interactive. Make your toddler a more active participant. Some ways can include:

–       If reading books about animals you can practice sounding the animal noises.

–       Read books that involve actions that can be copied. A great one in our household is ‘From Head to Toe Board Book‘ by Eric Carle.

–       You can even practice fine motor and eye hand coordination skills while reading books. Reading ‘The Mitten‘ is an excellent example. This is a great book that can keep your toddler engaged. It is about various animals that want to hide out in the mitten. As you read, your toddler can place individual animals in the mitten. You can download individual animals and the mitten from here. http://www.janbrett.com/put_the_animals_in_the_mitten.htm

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

Why is Sensory Lifestyle important

Why is Sensory Lifestyle important

Sensory ~ A word often used by Occupational Therapists (OT) when referring to a part of child development. This word is now becoming popular outside of my profession. I hear it from all my mommy friends and parents which I meet at playgrounds when I take my son out to play. Everyone keeps talking about the need to do sensory activities with their babies.

Fantastic news, but not so fast

The spread of a need for sensory activities in our community is great. But keep a weary ear on the context and application of these activities.  Each child is an individual and has a unique sensory profile.

Let’s take an example: making tactile activities such as sensory bags or sensory boxes. Some children might be able to jump straight in and explore the various textures that you have provided. However, some might be more sensitive and require guidance and grading of the tactile input. So the lesson is, know your child, never push an activity onto them but also educate yourself. Hopefully this website will be able to provide you with all the needed information to provide your child with best sensory activities.

 

When I think about my childhood I remember being outside running around with my friends until dusk. My favorite activity included playing ‘shop’. My parents bought me a scale. My girlfriends and I would play for hours. Gathering leaves to use as currency and adding water to sand to create different products to ‘sell’. This is just one of many activities which I enjoyed. I remember that my other favorite activities included getting dirty, climbing trees and playing on the playground structures.

Josh playing in the sand

Josh exploring

Josh exploring

 

Playground fun

Playground fun

Sensory development while living with technology

Times have changed. Technology has engraved into our culture. It is a part of everything we do. It has also lead children to became more sedentary with their preferred activities. Parents feel more pressure to get their kids out to play outside. Finding a balance can be stressful and overwhelming.

But it is possible. And I will show you how.

My goal with this blog is to provide you with information about all our senses. I will also provide you with ideas of activities. Activities which you can encourage your children to do. And in time, they will go back and play like we used to when we were children.

Providing your children with the opportunity to experience our world the right way by integrating their senses should be a parent’s priority. Having a sensory lifestyle is not only for kids with sensory processing disorders. Sensory experiences should be part of everyone’s day. Every day.

Play is an essential part of a child’s development. As children interact with their physical environment they use their sensory systems. Sensations are like ‘food’ for the nervous system. Without a good supply of diverse sensations the nervous system cannot develop to it’s maximum potential. Thus, functioning in the everyday life can become challenging. Learn how to avoid this and help your child start on the right foot.

Nothing better than some messy time

Nothing better than some messy time

 

Exploring grandparents garden

Exploring grandparents garden

 

Peek a boo

Peek a boo

Higher level cognitive activities like reading, writing and play are a result of a well integrated sensory system. The sooner you start the foundational building skills the better. Foundations are pivotal to your child’s success. If you start the process early, you will be helping your child develop coordinated bodies and strong minds. Welcome to living a sensory lifestyle.

~ Urszula