Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sensory Activities

I have recently discovered that I have a sensory seeking child. I mean, I've always known that she loves to cuddle, run, spin, jump and dance (constantly). I've always known she's waaaaay more energetic than most kids her age. I've always known that if I put her in water when she's cranky, she transforms into a different person (just like her mama!). I've always known that she will dive right into any messy activity I set up for her. I noticed very early on that as soon as we open a book she has to climb into my lap and be held as I read to her and she has to touch the pictures and turn the pages. I've always known that when we go shopping she wants to touch everything. When we're at home, she loves rough-housing with Daddy and always wants him to toss her in the air. She often pulling at my shirt just for fun and wants to sit in my la as soon as I sit down. She loves bear hugs! Yes, I've always known these things about her personality. What I didn't know, was that all of this combined means that she is a sensory seeker.

What does this all mean? Why am I excited about this discovery? Because....I have realized that when my sweet, adorable, fun-loving 3 year-old becomes an argumentative, aggressive, bratty child who is depleting all my energy, if I engage her in a sensory activity then a calm comes over her, the balance in the universe is restored, birds sing beautiful tunes in my head and I can once again, hear myself think. I gather supplies and introduce her to more sensory activities, I'll be posting them, so if you have a child who is also a sensory seeker you can add these activities to your toolbox and regain your child's sense of inner peace and maintain your sanity! Sensory activities are also good for children who are not sensory seekers, but rather the opposite, and aversions to sensory stimulation. Every day we are exposed to different textures, sounds, sights, and smells. Exposing young children to different sensory experiences can make them more comfortable when faced with different sensory stimulation out in the world.

This realization was sparked by the book Raising Your Spirited Child, but it became clear what a sensory seeker, Taylor is when I read this checklist and read the section on sensory seeking behavior and hyposensitivity to movement. Don't get me wrong, I'm not labeling my child with Sensory Integration Disorder. Her sensory seeking behavior doesn't impair her learning or her daily functioning. This is simply useful for me to see her behavior in this light because it helps me curb her tantrums, give her opportunities to regain her composure and comfort herself.

Taylor loves the sandbox but summer temps can get into the triple digits where we live, so sitting out in the heat watching her play in the sand isn't always ideal. So, the other day I poured some almost empty bags of rice and alphabet pasta into a plastic shoebox. Then I buried some "treasures" for her to find. I buried a pom-pom, a jumbo paperclip, a few large buttons, a safety pin, a crayon, a scrap of ribbon, a plastic ring and an eraser. I then gave her some tongs to use to dig for the treasures and picked them up with.

The next day, I pulled it out and gave her some kitchen utensils to play with. I set up the rice on the floor with a kitchen mat underneath, because it seemed too awkward for her to play at her table and dig into the bucket. Daddy was not too excited about her need to scoop the rice out of the bucket on to the mat. I think that's part of the fun and exploration. We came to a compromise and he used a binder clip to clip 2 tubs together so she could move the rice from one tub to the other. Brilliant!

As you can see, she was enthralled in the activity! I'm keeping the rice tub ready to go in her craft cabinet for easy access.

Do you have a child who is a sensory seeker? One with sensory aversions? What sensory activites do you do with your kids? I'd love to hear them!


soil mama said...

we've let zoe play with rice in tupperware containers on the counter, floor or table. She loves it, but it does get pretty messy. she likes to scoop, but she really loves to dump, so I'd worry about her dumping the WHOLE shoebox :). I try to involve her in baking and I have a simple recipe for oatmeal bars (diary and soy fee, no sugar either) that is great for her to mix with her hands and help me pat into the pan.
At Z's daycare/preschool, they have a sensory table that is a giant tub and they fill it with different materials every few weeks (oats, potting soil, rice...).
other ideas would be to let them help make playdough, and oblek (cornstarch and water) which makes a semi solid substance that is fun for kiddos to play with.

I looks forward to hearing other ideas!

Crafty Mom said...

Those are great ideas! I'm leary of the potting soil b/c Taylor planted some seeds at preschool a few wks ago and broke out in a rash. I actually saw her rash and was playing detective until she showed me the beautiful pot of soil with seedlings waiting to sprout ;). She played with Ooblek last summer, and we'll definitely be doing that again, soon. I have some other things we've done in the past that we'll try again and I'll share with all of you! Oh, and Taylor LOVES to mix oatmeal cookies with her hands!

Cristi said...

After you've used this for a while, what do you think of the size of the container? In the past, I've done much bigger containers full of rice and/or sand. I wonder if I'd be happier this time around if I just did the shoebox sized ones so that Lauren could have a few different ones to choose from -- sand in one, rice in one, perhaps pony beads in one. Are you (and Taylor) happy with the shoebox size or do you wish it was bigger?

Lisa D said...

WOW your dd sounds just like my son. While I hear lots of mum's talk about their sensory child it is always the opposite of the stuff my child does/likes. But the climbing in the lap, touching the pages and so on, that is him to a T.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I swear your first paragraph could have been written about my daughter! We're just discovering SPD and sensory seeking at her age 4. Looking forward to reading through your blog.