What is Sensory Play?

 

Sensory Play for All Children!

 

Sensory Play.

You’ve heard those words, but what does sensory play mean, and why is it so very important? Sensory play isn’t just ‘play’. It is learning and developing at a very basic level. Children use sensory to learn about the world around them, even before they can talk or begin to understand the concepts behind it.

 

As the mom of a child with sensory input issues, we have always made sure to include tons of sensory activities in our daily routines. These vary from small activities such as playdoh and water play, to large motor games such as obstacle courses and trampoline time. We also spend a lot of time doing things that have sensory play built right in: swimming, beach time, playgrounds, gymnastics, rain walks, and bike rides. I’ve found that even my two other children with no input issues benefit greatly from this extra emphasis on sensory during the day.

How you ask?

Sensory Play builds vocabulary.

Hard, soft, squishy, crinkly, hot, cold, smooth, rough. These are words that are difficult to describe, especially to a small child. They can however be easily experienced. It is much easier to introduce words like soft, smooth and squishy while playing with a nice soft batch of playdoh. These describing words are critical to a child’s vocabulary, as it allows them to explore and talk about the world around them. It builds confidence and a foundation for creating an extensive vocabulary later in life.

Sensory Play provides answers to question kids didn’t even know they had.

When children play, they often discover things that are amazing. A child playing with playdoh knows it will squish, but how amazing when they figure out that the large ball of playdoh can actually be shoved into that tiny hole! Or when the blue and yellow playdoh they are creating with suddenly turns green! These are learning experiences your child has created all by themselves. Most sensory based activities are very open ended and leave tons of room for exploration

Sensory Play in important to a child’s physical development.

Sensory play helps children develop both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. This makes them equally as important to babies and toddlers as it does for older children. The sooner children begin to develop their motor system, the sooner they can begin to explore their world. As children begin to explore, sensory experiences are much more likely to stick in a child’s memory. They engage the senses, and therefore are more cognitively rewarding that other forms of learning.

Sensory Play is FUN!

Not only is Sensory Play a great learning tool, its fun! Children will often be entertained for hours on end without even knowing they are growing their brain. My children’s most requested activities are all sensory play activities!

 

Check out some of our other posts for some great ideas have fun with Sensory Play with your little one today!

 

Learning with Pokemon!

Make Learning Fun with Printable Pokemon Games!

 

As the parent of children with very active imaginations, I have to be aware of what sort of characters they are ‘meeting’ through television and YouTube. My girls, Bug especially, have many imaginary friends, and will play out very elaborate scenarios and adventures with the characters from their favorite shows. These are occasionally wildly entertaining to listen to, but more often than not they are an excuse to run, flip and shadow fight in the living room.

Currently some of our more frequent guests include the antagonists from PJ Masks, the Octonauts, and a variety of Pokemon.

 

Now, I’d like to take just a moment to appreciate the longevity of the Pokemon franchise. I remember when my brother discovered Pokemon about 10 years ago and was shocked that I was cool enough to be able to recognize several of his favorite characters.  Now Bug is super into the show, and its characters. While I usually try to limit her exposure to violence, I do honestly feel that the way battles are presented in this cartoon are perfectly acceptable. She loves the idea of searching for rare Pokemon and training them to do battle with her.

Learning with Pokemon

As with her other interests, I try to tie Pokemon activities into our daily homeschool tasks, to make them a little less painful (for both of us!). This has proven a bit challenging. Considering how long the show has been running, there is very little in the way of educational games or supplements. I did manage to find some, however, and I have provided the links to some below.

 

Pokemon Endless Cards

What a great idea! There is a small learning curve for putting these together, but it is totally worth it. These Pokemon endless cards by Hattifant and Red Ted Art are awesome, and great for keeping little hands busy! Be sure to check out our printable page for 3 Giggling Twirls own endless cards.

 

Pokemon Optical Illusion Toy

This is a 20th century optical illusion game that has been modified for the pokemon lovers out there. I originally got the idea from a blog post I saw on Pinterest, but I went a little farther with the idea, and made it suitable for a color printer, and added Bug’s favorite characters. We used a glue stick to sandwich a paper lollipop stick between the two layers and then played by rolling the stick quickly between our palms, but they could easily be used in the traditional manner.

Printable Pokemon Toy

 

 

Pokemon Action Cards

ANDNEXTCOMESL is a great website for ideas and advice pertaining to Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Hyperlexia. She has a great idea to have kids read and react to Pokemon Action cards. We loved this ides, and used her free printables for a while, and then I decided to make my own version with the characters and actions that appealed to Bug (and the other two!). Check them both out, and make sure you have plenty of open space to get moving!

Edit: In my rounding up of activities, I forgot about the well done Camp Pokemon app. camp-pokemon-gallery-6If your kid is into screen time, this is a good app for them to play in their down time. Its not exactly educational, but it is way better than a lot of other apps they could be playing! The app is free and available for both Android and IOS. I also know about the super popular Pokemon Go app, and I’ve read some things about it being an asset in one way or another for home schooling families. We do not have any personal experience with it, however.

So now you have a couple ideas, and there are more on my ‘Learning with Pokemon‘ Pinterest Board. Now get out there and try ’em all!

 

Let us know what works for you, or if you have found any other cool ways to make Pokemon a part of your homeschool…

Animal Research Adventures!

A New Year

2018… apparently is shaping up to be one hell of a year. Went to bed last night with three snotty, coughing children (one of which gagged, vomited down the back of the top bunk, and went back to sleep) and a bit of a queasy stomach myself, even before the whole top bunk fiasco. Woke up this morning to a 54 degree house and an outside unit that makes enough noise to wake the dead when I attempt to turn it back on. Awesome!!

So here it is, 7:22am and I have piled blankets on the sleeping children, layered up and grabbed my robe, made the coffee, and texted a family friend in a desperate plea for his expertise in the matter of furnace mutiny. Despite the cold day, inside and out, today is the day that life officially gets back to normal after the holiday season. As always, the end is always bitter sweet. There will no longer be an excuse for eating cookies for breakfast, no more sneaky spy elf to carry tales of misbehavior to Santa,  no more pretty sparkling lights. However, when all of these Christmas decorations go back to the attic, and we reinstitute the ‘no toys downstairs’ rule, I may actually get my living room decently tidy!

 

Animal Research Day

Even though we don’t really go with the public school schedule around here, we have had our winter break and it is definitely time to get back on track and back into good morning routines. Today was to be the start of 2018 in our morning binders, the start of our Fish, Amphibians and Reptiles animal kingdom units, and a good solid math review. Unfortunately, our school room is in the basement that is already about 15 degrees colder than the upstairs on a normal day. Sure, we have a kitchen table and various other locations that could easily accommodate school work, but Bug doesn’t work so well upstairs. Too many distractions.

So on to Plan B:  A day of sneakily educational TV under warm blankets.

 

Today’s marathon of choice will be anything involving animals, mainly Wild Kratts, with some Magic School Bus and BBC Documentaries thrown in to keep it interesting.

Bug has long since decided that she wants to be a vet when she grows up. She wants to travel around the world helping animals who need her (as opposed to Boo, who just wants to catch them for an unspecified and most likely nefarious purpose). This love of animals led Bug to her current favorite show, Wild Kratts. The show is about two adult brothers that help animals. It has both live and cartoon segments, all filled with facts and information about the episodes chosen animal. Chris and Martin Kratt are fun, engaging and knowledgable. They also have a few other shows, including Kratts Creatures and the original Zaboomafoo. These shows have been great for Bug since she has such good recall of things she sees and hears, especially when it is a fact or other interesting information. These two men, traveling and helping animals, have now become the embodiment of what Bug would like to do in life. She shall learn everything there is to know about animals, and then she shall set out to travel the planet in search of creatures that need her help. She figures this ought to be able to happen by the time she is 10.

 

Oh boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the true spirit of our semi-child driven homeschool, we took this opportunity to create our very own Wild Kratt Animal Research Journal. If one is going to learn everything about animals, then there needs to be a place to record all of this knowledge!

Our ‘Research Like A Kratt’ Journal

This notebook holds several printed copies of a simple Animal Research page, a list of animals she would like to add, and a zip up pouch with vocabulary words. I am currently toying with the idea of making a binder section for random knowledge; yesterday in the car she spent 5 minutes telling me the science of bioluminescence and it’s 3 main uses.

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Our notebook with extra pages and a zip pouch for vocab cards!

 

 

Our first entry into our awesome notebook somehow managed

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Our first Shark page. Believe it or not, Bug’s handwriting has improved a lot this year!

to be the Tube Nosed Bat.. which very little is actually known about. After that, I guided the animal choices a little more. It has been a very successful venture so far.  So much so that Bug often wakes up and comes downstairs asking to do some animal research. She even willingly writes down 90% of the information she finds! That, my friends, is huge. Bug does NOT like to write. Far too much sitting still and concentrating for my little fireball. However, she is determined to learn all she can before she turns 10 and begins her grand adventure. For now I will take any motivation I can get.. and I’ll deal with the fallout in about 3 years.

 

 

 

If you want to grab a copy of the Animal Research paper we are using, you can click the link below.

Wild Animal Research DL

Feel free to leave me a comment with an idea for an interesting animal to research, or a good show/YouTube channel to learn more about animals!!