Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Uncategorized | 9 comments

sensoryactivities

One of the best things I learned from this book is that sensory activities are a major benefit to Ryan.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’d never heard the term “sensory activities” before reading that book. Here is how author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka describes how these activities benefit spirited children:

“Spirited kids are very sensuous. They enjoy activities that allow them to touch, smell, taste, hear or see things. Using their senses calms them.”

It explains why Ryan gravitates toward toys like Magna-Tiles, Legos and Play-Doh. Spirited kids are both emotionally intense and exceptionally creative. They get bored playing with toys the “right” way. They want to use their senses while inventing their own scenarios.

I’ve never really focused on creating sensory activities for Ryan; but looking back, I can see that I intuitively knew these sorts of things calmed him down. Whenever he got particularly rambunctious during warmer months, my go-to move was to march him outside to fill up his water table. After every rain storm, we splashed in puddles. Once the weather became colder, we started doing mid-day bubble baths and baking LOTS cupcakes so that he could help crack the eggs, mix the batter, separate the cupcake papers and apply the sprinkles.

I knew these things calmed him down, diffused his intensity and focused his energy. I just didn’t fully understand the why part, so I wasn’t taking full advantage of it.

Now that I know the why, I am working hard to create at least one new fun sensory activity for him each day during the week. As a one-working-parent household, we’re very budget conscious, so all the activities I’ve dreamed up have involved materials we already have sitting around our house.

Here are some of our favorites so far:

We call this one "Dirty Dinosaur." One large bowl of dry oats, one cup of water, and other assorted cups for pouring and mixing. And then, of course, some plastic dinosaurs for dunking and burying.

We call this one “Dirty Dinosaur.” One large bowl of dry oats, one cup of water and other assorted cups for pouring and mixing. And then, of course, some plastic dinosaurs for dunking and burying.

Dry rice, two large bowls, a measuring cup and a plastic lobster.

Dry rice, two large bowls, a measuring cup and a plastic lobster.

One large bowl, one box uncooked penne pasta, one random plastic cupcake container leftover from some Valentine's Day treats and, yes, a plastic dinosaur.

One large bowl, one box uncooked penne pasta, one random plastic cupcake container leftover from some Valentine’s Day treats and, yes, a plastic dinosaur. (In case you’re curious, the triceratops is about to dive into the bed of penne to go to sleep. Just like in nature.)

A large shipping box and lots and lots of bubble wrap.

A large shipping box and lots and lots of bubble wrap. (“Can you find me?!?”)

Another variation: Box of packing peanuts.

Another variation: Big box of packing peanuts. (“I’m crackin’ these eggs.”)

And perhaps our favorite so far: Shredded paper, one plastic storage tub, one large bowl, a pair of kitchen tongs and - you guessed it - a plastic dinosaur.

And perhaps our favorite so far: One plastic storage tub, shredded paper, one large bowl, a pair of kitchen tongs and – you guessed it – a plastic dinosaur.

Are these activities messy? Yes. Yes, they are.

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But the clean-up often becomes part of the activity. If there’s one thing my kid loves more than playing with shredded paper, it’s helping to sweep it up.

Even so, I’m very much looking forward to spring, when I can bust that water table out and maybe add a few new messy outdoor sensory activities to the mix.

(In the meantime, yes, it has crossed my mind to set the water table up on my kitchen floor with a vinyl tablecloth underneath it. Depending on how long this winter weather keeps hammering us, I haven’t entirely ruled it out yet.)

One day when I’m feeling particularly dedicated, I’m going to attempt to recreate this amazing “Glow Bath” concept that my bloggy friend Stef dreamed up.

If you have kids, do you do these sorts of activities with them? If you’re a teacher, do you incorporate them into your classroom? I want any and all suggestions you have.

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