Monday, February 26, 2018

What Is Sensory Play? And Why It's Important? Plus A Great Sensory Activity!

What is Sensory Play Why it is important

The first time I heard the phrase "sensory play" is when I was working with children who had autism and had difficulty processing different sights, sounds, textures, and even different smells or foods.

I remember there was one child who was having major eating issues. And the sensory activities we would do with him is playing with different foods he was adverse to, with ZERO expectation of eating it. We had all sorts of fun with those foods trying to keep him engaged and interested. The first time that he touched some spaghetti noddles was just amazing!

So due to my past work experience, I always just thought of sensory play for children who had sensory difficulties. I'm embarrassed to say that it wasn't till after I had my first child that I realized No! Sensory play is so important for all children!!!

Yeah, I know I feel really silly that I didn't put that together earlier!

But let's forget about that and move on to why sensory play is so beneficial to all children.

So What Is Sensory Play???

Sensory play blocks

Simply put it is hands-on playing that engages the senses; Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and Taste.

By stimulating the senses you are helping your child's brain grow and develop. Research has shown that when engaging in sensory play the brain will lay down nerve connections that will help your child be able to complete complex learning problems.

Sensory play encourages language development as children will learn new ways to describe their world. In the sensory activity I did with my girls we played with snow inside, we spent a lot of time talking about the snow, how cold it was, how we could mold it into different shapes, and what was happening to it as it was inside for longer and longer.

Another benefit of this type of play is it will help in fine motor development. As your child explores they will be reaching, pinching, pouring and manipulating whatever they are playing with, all of that will help them when they are learning to do zippers, buttons, tieing their shoes and developing their handwriting.

Sensory Play aprons

Another amazing thing about sensory play it that is can be used to either calm or excited your child. I'm sure if you take a moment and think different activities your child enjoys you will be able to tell if they have a calming effect on your children or if it winds them up! For example, after a bath, does your child seem to be a little calmer? I think of myself as a child, I loved going on the swings, I could stay on them for hours and I always felt better afterwards. As a child, I just thought I was having fun and playing, but now as an adult, I know that yes, I was playing and having fun but also that the sensory input I was getting from the swings was calming and self-regulating. That sensory input and self-regulating can help your child overcome whatever internal discomfort they are having, whether that is boredom, restlessness, or some other type of agitation.

Sensory play a way a child can grow in creative thinking and problem-solving. It is also the way children discover and making sense of their world.

So now that you have learned a little bit more about sensory play and its benefits, let me share with you the simple sensory play I did recently with my girls.

It is was SUPER simply, I got two plastic bowls from my cupboards, went outside filled them up with snow, came back inside got a few bath toys put them in the bowls as well and then BOOM! A sensory activity!

Sensory Play with Snow

Now you do need to have snow outside but if you didn't have snow you can very easily use water and put a few ice cubes in to have it be a little more exciting then just water. And that way your kids will be able to see the ice cubes melt. Which for kids is pretty cool to see!

Anyway, now that you have your sensory snow bowl, all you have to do is play! I find just following my girls lead is best, they took me on some wonderful snow adventures where their little toys made new friends, had to go to the doctors, got lost, built a snowman and many more snowy filled adventures! My girls played with the snow for over an hour! I had to go out and get more snow a few times for them.

Toys for sensory play activities

In all honesty, I couldn't play with them the whole time, my pretend play skills are a little rusty and I just wasn't able to keep up! But thankfully they are super good at playing with each other and are able to keep the tears to a minimum.

So if you are trying to fill the day with fun activities that will keep your kids attention for more then 5 minutes, then give this a try! They will just love it!

If you liked this post and activity, then you need to check these posts out as well!

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Great Activity To Teach Children Mindfulness Using Their Senses

This past Valentine's Day my sweet Husband gave our little girls each a gorgeous rose.

The girls LOVE them! They are always asking to see them and wanting to touch them. Any visitor we have over and the girls insisted that they come over and take a look at their beautiful flowers.

This got my brain turning, I could use their fascination with their Valentine's gift as a wonderful opportunity to teach some mindfulness practices without them even knowing!

Which let's be honest, is always the best way with kids, especially young ones!

Now for this activity you just need one item, we used our roses, but you could use a feather, a favourite stuffie, or even a favourite treat! Really anything that will engage your child will do just fine.

I had the girls sit down on the couch just because I knew that they would be comfortable there and that they would be willing to sit there for a little bit.

The first thing we did was focused on TOUCH

I had the girls put the flowers on their cheeks, and asked them how did it feel? Was it cool? Was it soft? I asked them about the steam, was it soft?

I asked them if the Rose felt heavy in their hands?

Then we focused on SIGHT

I asked them what colour was it? Did they see any shapes in it?

Then we focused on SMELL

Did it have a smell? Did it smell sweet? Did they like the way it felt?

Then the last few things few questions that I ask them was did they like there Rose? What did they like best about it? I asked them to remember how it felt when their Father gave them their flowers?

Doing this activity with the girls really did take that long, approximently 10 minutes give or take.

And the girls really enjoyed spending time playing with their flowers!

Now you may be thinking, "okay this sounds like a fun activity to teach kids about the 5 senses." (obviously, I did not go over all senses as I didn't want the girls to taste the rose. But if you were using a favourite treat or food, you could!)

But what does it have to do mindfulness!?!?!

Well, often we are going about our lives on autopilot. We rush around to point A to B so fast, our minds thinking about the 101 things on our to-do list. That we miss out on different moments of our life's. Sometimes they are simple things such as watching a bird tending to her young her nest, or maybe it is feeling the way the sun hits your face as you step out the door. Yes, they are simple moments and maybe seems unimportant but those lovely little moments add up, they help us see the beauty and richness of life.

Even more unfortunate when we are zooming around on autopilot we can miss cues from our friends and loved ones when they need us.

I feel ashamed to admit that sometimes that as I have been rushing around the house doing different chores or trying to finish a different crafting project. I fail to notice my girls or baby giving me cues that they are in need of some love and attention, till it is too late and I having a crying upset child on my hands.

Yes, I do have things I need and want to get done, but all I need to do is plan just a little bit better. The things that I need to focus on, have to wait till the children are sleeping so I can give whatever I'm working on my full attention, be present and mindful of that project or task.

 And when I do need to do a few things around the house while the childern are awake I need to be sure that they are projects I can stop and put down without any problems. So that I don't miss any of those cues.

So going back to our Roses! By doing that great activity with your children you are teaching them (and yourself) to get off autopilot! To enjoy life moment by moment, to see the joy in the simple things and moments of life. You are teaching them Mindfulness!

I would love to hear your tips and tricks to get off autopilot. Please let me know in the comments below!
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Painless Blotto Painting Valentine's Day Project

You know sometimes you get in a funk and just can't think of new arts and crafts to do with your kids, which is fun, easy and keeps the clean up to a minimal.

Well, that happened to me recently, I just was feeling "blah” and my creative juices were just not flowing so I couldn't think of a preschool-friendly craft to do with my kids.

Thank goodness for good friends! No word of a lie, but the day I was feeling this way, a good friend sent me a message with a link to a super great painting craft for kids!

Not only did it look fun and easy but it looked like there would be a very minimal mess!

So I thought I would share how our experience went with this Painless Blotto Painting Valentine's Day Project went!

Items You Will Need;

Paper - I would recommend a thicker paper like card stock just because you will want the paper to be strong enough not to rip when it comes time to rub it.

Paint - Any and all the colours you want!

Painting Shirts - Just to help clean up quick and easy! I just used my husband's work shirts.

Garbage Bag - You don't NEED this but I like to spread it out over our work area that way when we are done our craft, I can just roll it up and then BOOM! All Cleaned Up!

Okay on to the craft!

Step One:

Cut the paper into a heart. 

I did this by simply folding the sheet of paper in half and then I cut half a heart shape along the folded edge.

Step Two:

Add the paint! 

Depending on the age of your children, you can let them do this step themselves or if you have younger kids (like me) it might be best for you to add the paint. But if you are adding the paint you can still get your young children involved by getting them to tell you what colours they want. You can get them to show you where to put the paint and even how much! So there are lots of ways to keep this step fun and exciting for your younger children.

Step Three:

Fold and rub the heart all over to squish that paint all around! 

This is the best part! You can even turn it into a game! Have them rub it fast! And then slooooow. Get them to see if they can make the paint go all the way to the sides of the heart! That was a big hit with my girls they thought it hilarious to see the paint squish out the side and even on their hands! Yes, that made things a little more mess but to hear their laughter made it all worth it!

Step Four:

Open your heart and see your Beautiful Painting Masterpiece!

Ooooooh, Aaaahhhhh!

Yup! They will be that beautiful and most important it is that painless to do a great painting craft with your kids!

If you liked this Craft for Kids, you should go and check these out as well!

Simple Painting Activity For Kids

How to make adorable Love Bugs 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Love Bugs and Beautiful Butterflies: A Lovely Valentine's Craft For Kids

How many sweet little pet names do you have for your kids?

I have about a million that I like to rotate through but lately, the favourite seems to be calling my sweet girls my little "Love Bugs". The girls think it is hilarious! Whenever I call them that, they will laugh and say "No! Mommy, you're a little love bug!" The best part is that then they will run over and give me lots of hugs and kisses!

So with that in mind, I thought it would fun to make some sweet little love bugs for Valentine's.

This is a great craft project for kids and one that has very little cleanup! Which is a must for me!

The Supplies That You Will Need;

Popsicle Sticks
Markers or Crayons
Colourful Paper
Pipe Cleaners
Googly Eyes

Art Supplies

Step One:

Draw out the wings aka Hearts! I used the Popsicle sticks as a guide to make sure I drew the hearts the right sizes.

Valentine's Day Craft For Kids

Step Two:

Cut out the wings!

Step Three:

The best part decorate the hearts! On the wings, I drew lines where I was going to glue the Popsicle sticks just so my girls wouldn't put any stickers there making it difficult later gluing it together.

At this point, I also coloured the Popsicle.

Valentine's Day Art and Craft Project for Kids

Step Four and Five:

I did these steps while the girls were decorating their heart. First, I glued the googly eyes on, let them dry for a bit. While they were drying I cut little pieces off of the pipe cleaner to make antennae for our little love bugs. When the eyes were dry, I used a hot glue gun to attach the antenna, just to make sure they would be really secure.

Art and Craft Project

Step Six:

Once the wings are beautifully decorated, glue them to the Popsicle sticks! But before you glue you need to decide do you want a sweet little Love Bug or a Beautiful Butterfly!?!?

For a Love Bug put the heart/wings upside down, and for a Butterfly put the wings right side up!

Love Bug Valentine's Day Craft Project

Valentine's Day Art and Craft for Kids

It is that simple!

I just know that your kids with love this Lovely Valentine's Craft just as much as my girls did.

If You Liked This Great Kid's Craft Project, Check These Out As Well!

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