School got out really early this year in our district, and since I’m a teacher, I’m home nearly 24/7 with my kiddos during these months. Camps are not cheap, so we have opted to attend “Camp Mom” all summer, as I’m calling it, where I plan activities for us all each day. Here in week three, the “newness” of summer is wearing off and the cries of “MOM! What is there to do around here?!” are becoming a daily occurrence. I’ve written before about the benefits of sensory play for younger children, but at ages 7 and 5, my kids have been there and done that…over and over, when your mom teaches preschoolers for a living!
It’s time to break out some sensory play for the big kids.
Even for big kids, sensory play is a great idea. It helps build brain synapses through new sensory input, it builds muscle control (both gross and fine motor), and it fosters cooperative play. Even though elementary school children might be bored by a rice table or some play dough, that doesn’t mean sensory play is not for them! Here are some of our favorites:
Planting is a sensory experience. Filling the pot with dirt, watering the soil just the right amount, and adding the plants of your own choosing are all great sensory input. Spend some time at your local nursery. Give your child a small budget (maybe $5 each– also a great opportunity for them to earn that money by doing extra chores around the house!), and let him chose his own plant. We planted tomatoes and cucumbers, and we are really looking forward to watching them grow and eating the fruits of our harvest (hopefully)!
We are lucky to live in an area that provides both salt and freshwater habitats. Grab a library pass for the CT State Parks– admission is free with the pass– and explore nature. Observe the animals and plants around us. Check out a field guide from the library while you’re there, and see what you can discover.
Speaking of library passes, a great spot for sensory exploration is our many local art museums! We loved our visit to the Eric Carle Museum last summer, and this summer I am hoping to take my sons to the Yale Art Gallery to explore centuries of art and culture– all for free!
While the price is really high ($14 per person for one hour…ah!) we watch for coupons and make trips to our local trampoline park for some awesome fun and gross motor play. I have at least as much fun as the kids do. This place was intimidating and overwhelming when my kids were younger, but now…it’s a favorite activity. Jumping is great exercise and sensory input.
Another sensory project we love is “kid in a bubble”. It’s definitely very messy, but also, tons of fun. Our tiny kiddie pool doesn’t get much use now that my sons are older, but it’s perfect for this. Fill the kiddie pool with about 2″ of water. Add in one 16 oz water bottle filled with dish soap and approximately 1 ounce of glycerine (which you can get at any pharmacy). Gently swirl the mixture into the water. Place a step stool in the middle, a kid on the step stool, and a hula hoop in the soapy water. The kids take turns raising a giant bubble around each other.
I hope you’re all enjoying your summer together thus far! Enjoy having fun and exploring together!