All posts filed under: Sensory play

IMG_5720.JPG

Truly Lovely Potions

When my children were smaller, largely before Miss J started school, we spent a lot of time engaged in messy and sensory play activities. I invested in a Tuff spot not only to try and contain some of the mess but also to invent small world scenarios. We had such fun, making moon sand, conducting simple science experiments, painting with trains, tracing letters in all sorts of substances (our favourite being Angel Delight powder), and so much more. With the boy not so keen on getting wet and messy, once Miss J was spending her days at school, the fabric of our play changed. The boy and I would mostly play with trains, with a few diggers, dumpers, and wild animals thrown in. I tried to introduce messier aspects, hiding his trains in jelly and ice, but this more often frustrated than delighted him. One activity that really did work for him though were our autumn tracks in the Tuff spot.   We spent the morning collecting colourful fallen leaves at the park then constructed …

IMG_3532.JPG

The Outdoors Project

I always feel that there is something so magical about being outdoors with children. Of course, I cannot speak for all children, but mine certainly come alive. Their movements are bigger and bolder, their language becomes richer, they are coworkers like never before, loyal, trusting and fearless, they dash up trees and build forts; above all, their smiles are broader.    You really do get a sense that they are fulfilled and enriched by such experiences, whether they be by the sea, in the woods, up a hill, or just at the local park. One of our favourite places to play is in a forest or woods. We took a trip to the Forest of Dean last summer and it remains one of our very favourite holidays. There is always something to do when surrounded by trees and wood and nature; and if you’re ever stuck for ideas, just ask a child! Their imaginative play is packed full of more creativity than ever before when captivated by nature. They explore new sensory and messy play …

Compact Gardening

Gardening is good for you, according to a new infographic produced by Compost Direct. Older gardeners have a 36-47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners, and gardening, alongside all forms of outdoor and natural education, is proven to be beneficial for children.  However, with large numbers of people (ourselves included) living in places that simply do not have gardens, the opportunities to grow your own seem to be dwindling. However, all is not lost – did you know that there are many ways to grow crops in small spaces? From potted plants indoors to mini vegetable patches, window box herb gardens, and grow bags, there are many ways to garden within your own home.  I’m excited to discover that you can grow potatoes in compost bags or even bin liners, which is something I cannot wait to do with my little ones. It is also possible to grow crops in specialist grow bags; with just a small amount of space, you can grow fruit and veg to feed your whole household – from tomatoes and carrots to …

Creating a Sensory Garden

Sensory gardens make great play spaces for children and are fairly easy to create.  Ideally, you will need some outdoor space such as an allotment or garden, but you could create a small example in a window box.  Getting the kids involved from the start is a great way to teach them about different types of plants and, if you are using herbs, can be a good start to the conversation about where food comes from.  Everything from planting with compost to watering the finished garden can be done by a child, so it is a lovely project to work on together. For a complete sensory experience, you will need your garden to provide stimulus for all five senses; here are some ideas on what to include for each: Sight: Painted planters/plant pots/wooden structures; sunflowers, poppies, and roses; mosaic features; small windmills. Touch: Cacti, lamb’s ears, silver sage, houseleek, aloe, African sundew plants; small fountain or water feature; water beads; cork; wood. Smell: Chocolate cosmos, lavender, rosemary, mint and lemon balm plants; roses; timber. Hearing: Wind chimes; windmills; …

P1110746

Messy Play, Nature, and Education

I believe, wholeheartedly, in hands-on learning being the best form of education.  You wouldn’t learn to drive by reading about it in a book, or copying text about the mechanical procedures involved from a white board, so why do we expect our children to learn in this way?  To flourish in classroom environments with so few kinaesthetic learning opportunities?  It makes little sense to me.  When we stayed with Forest Holidays in May, it was with great pleasure that we found their beliefs to be in tune with our own. Prior to our holiday, we were offered the chance to enjoy a ranger activity at the Forest of Dean site in which we stayed. When we eventually arrived, we chose the Young Explorers activity session for Miss J and the boy and didn’t think much more about it until the next day.  To be totally honest, I hadn’t expected much from the session.  Perhaps a short walk through the forest and then making a collage.  I am pleased to say it was way more than that. We met up …