Wednesday, 27 June 2012

In the beginning...

A Very Happy Blue Day.

 For my first post I have decided to go back to the beginning of my own sensory journey. Back in June of 2011 I began attending my local Baby Sensory class and I was so inspired and excited by all the simple things I had learnt I could enjoy with my baby. It feels strange for me to recall a time when I didn't necessarily think that doing anything creative with my son would in anyway benefit him or in turn be enjoyable for me. I suppose I just assumed that my son would need to be older in order to appreciate such activities and boy was I wrong! The excitement in his eyes when I introduced him to so many new experiences and the joy I felt at sharing these moments with him just spurred me on to do more.

My first idea was "Colour days" and the idea came about after I got my wee boy dressed and placed him in his blue bumbo, next to his blue blanket and realised he was also dressed in blue! I find that most of my ideas develop organically and most are spur of the moment using whatever I have to hand. Once the seed was planted there was no stopping me and I got rather carried away with the idea. I decided to try out a suggestion given to me by the sensory class leader and in preparation for the blue play I made a bowl of blue spaghetti. This sensory component has to be one of my favourite when it comes to "messy" play!

Its super easy to make and is great fun to play with! To colour the spaghetti you simple add a few drops of food colouring to the water during cooking. Then once drained coat the spaghetti in a smidge of oil to avoid it sticking together and leave to cool before play.

As you can see here my son gets stuck right in and personally I didn't mind about the oil getting into his clothes but I would advise only using old clothes or even better still whipping the bottoms off as this allows them to feel the texture, temprature and consistancy of the material they are playing with. An unexpected sensory element I had not considered with this play was the oil on his skin, Dylan seemed to love wriggling his toes after the spaghetti had touched them and also rubbing his fingers together after touching it. These moments where you are able to watch your child exploring, in there own way, a medium you have provided them with is just magical and is just the positive feedback I need from him to know that what I'm doing with him is right for us!

The majority of items I used for this session where toys but I also used many everyday items I had in the house. For example I covered the floor with blankets and blue towels but also added a sensory element with the bath mat which can be seen in the top left of the above picture. I scoured the kitchen as well and came up with spoons, bowls, a cup and the small containers used to freeze baby food. I was overcoming my misconception that only toys could provide my son with entertainment and was amazed at the number of blue items that where squirreled away in my house! While raiding the kitchen I had also come across a long forgotten box of assorted food colourings and the cogs had started turning, there must be a use for them, and there was. One of the most simple DIY toys I have come across, coloured water in a recycled drinks bottle. I think from Dylan's face in the above picture you will agree it was definitely a success and has been used on many occassions with many different colours.

Another element I added was entirely inspired by my first visit to Baby Sensory and was simply a throw away tablecloth from my local Asda cut into strips. We tied a knot at the top and gently shook the strips to make a lovely swooshy noise and slowly introduced Dylan to the feel of them on his skin and let him reach out to touch them before running them over his body and letting the strips tickle his arms and cheeks. We have since found many other uses for these strips but I will save those for another post.

This session was on quite a large scale and we played with this set up on/off for the whole day but by no means is this an every day ocurrence! My excitement about my new found outlet for my creativity and imagination saw me throw myself into sensory play. This kind of play can easily be recreated on a much smaller scale however and elements such as the coloured water can be just as beneficial and rewarding as a stand alone activity.
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