There are a number of sensory play ideas that can be found on Pinterest or by following a number of different Facebook pages/groups. What is the big deal and really who has time for this???
When our little man was an infant or toddler, I often beat myself thinking I did not prepare enough activity for him. The fact is kids can have fun and enjoy a variety of different experiences without much work from you. Sensory-based activities are the smells, sounds, touch, taste, and sites your child is exposed to.
Sensory activities do not have to be elaborate. Children benefit from changes in the sensory input and output that they are getting. These activities can reduce boredom, calm children, or rev them up. You will soon discover what results your child will get from certain activities.
Here are some fun and easy ideas..
1. Making a fort
Throw a blanket over a chair or table and let your child explore.
2. Throw down a tunnel
You can get a collapsible tunnel that you let your little one explore through. For added fun, you can attach it to a fort.
3. Make your own ball pit
Throw a bunch of plastic balls in an indoor tent, blow up wading pool or large plastic container.
4. Climbing in and out of containers
If you have some empty containers your child can climb in to let him. There were many of times I would turn away for a moment and look back to see that our young man was sitting in the container of toys.
5. A bowl of ice cubes or snow
Let your child play with ice cubes or snow. You can give them a truck or some cars to drive through the ice or snow. You can offer mittens for them to use while playing.
Let’s be real! Baking for little ones is all about eating what you are trying to bake with. This is a great chance for them to learn how different things taste and a great opportunity to learn how to properly test food.
7. Water Play
Fill up the sink and let them play. I would throw a towel on the floor so I would not have to worry about a wet floor. This would (and still occupies) our young man when I was trying to cook or clean up the kitchen. He wanted to be involved so I would throw plastic containers and plates in the sink to be “washed”. Now at 6, he can legitimately wash dishes!
You can also add a number of items to the water to make it a different experience. A favourite in the Toddler Room I worked in was a plastic doll the children could wash. A favourite here was when we would throw in some plastic dinosaurs.
This is when you add 2 parts of cornstarch to one part water. Be prepared to have a fun experience!! When you touch it, it seems hard but when you pick it up it melts 🙂
I love Goop but this was not something our little man enjoyed.
9. Smelling Spices
It is just as easy as it sounds! Let your child smell different spices. If you are up for it let your child taste the different spices as well, Get your camera ready as there may be some weird expressions!!
10. Building with cans
I would put some cans on the carpeted floor and let him build with them. I would show him how to do it and then he would get creative. This did not always keep his attention for long but it changed his mood (and mine for the matter).
11. Make music!
Pots and pans are awesome for this. I would bring out a bunch of pots and wooden spoons and let him hit them. to reduce how loud things would get I would put a dishcloth inside the pot to reduce the noise.
These examples were very basic. You can get way more elaborate but at the end of the day if your child is happy or at least had a few happy moments your job is done for the day!!
It is that time of the year where our little ones are preparing to go to school or go back to school. The first thing I get a number of questions about is how to get your child prepared to get the amount of sleep he needs each night.
When summer hits we often fall off our routines. This is pretty common and honestly, it is to be expected. If you child is going to bed later and waking up later than he needs for school you can help him get back on track.
Where do you start?
The first thing that I recommend that you do is to figure out what time your child needs to be going to bed to get the recommended amount of sleep that he needs.
Here is a link that can help you figure out how much sleep your child needs Recommended Hours of Sleep. Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.
Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.
Now you know how much time your child should be sleeping so the next thing to look at is what time does your child have to be awake to get where they need to be in a timely fashion without you having to rush them out the door (stay tuned for a post about how to get them out the door with your patience and hair intact).
Let us say for example you need to be out the door by 8:00 am so you decide that 7:00 am is a good time for your child to get up.
Currently, your child is getting up around 9:00 am. There are 2 ways you can approach this change:
The weekend before school you can just cold turkey wake your child up at 7:00 am and start your day. I do recommend giving him a few days to adjust before going to school which is why I recommend starting on the weekend. Then have bedtime at the time you figure he needs to be able to get proper rest.
Right about now you can start waking your child up 15 minutes before he usually wakes up. Bedtime will be 15 minutes before he usually goes to sleep. Then every 3 to 4 days, change wake-up and bedtime by 15 minutes. Continue this approach until you reach the desired times.
Be prepared for some protest from your child. Reminding your child that you are doing this to help him get ready for school can have a positive effect on the push back you may receive.
Have fun preparing for back to school!
This time of year usually means that most children over the age of 3 are embarking on a new adventure. Often a 3 or 4-year-old is off to preschool for at least two days a week. Children that are 5 and up are usually gearing up to start school. We start school after Labour Day. Some families have started and others will be embarking on this adventure in the next few days.
This means that as parents we are trying to best prepare our children for a smooth transition to this next part of the year. This can be exciting and stressful all at the same time.
1. Start talking about it now.
- If you have not started talking about the new school year this is a great time to get the children geared up. Try to stay focused on the positives (making new friends and learning new things).
2. Validate their feelings.
- If they are excited; but, you are nervous to see them off to school stay focused on their feelings. Be excited (“Fake it to Make it”) for them. Validate your feelings with other adults.
- If they are nervous let them talk it out. It is important not to say “You have nothing to be nervous about?’. Instead try asking “What is making you nervous”, “What scares you?” and for the really young ones try asking “What is making your body feel scared or nervous?” and then problem solve with them. Give them ways to deal with their concerns. Click here for tips on how to deal with separation anxiety.
3. Getting their sleep patterns on track.
- Start moving their bedtime in 15-minute increments every few days until they get to the right time.
- You can use the same stately for the early morning wake up. Either set an alarm for your child or start waking them up 15-minutes sooner than usual. For teens, you may have to speed up the process a bit so I would suggest doing this in 30-minute increments.
4. Returning to or developing structure and routine.
- Developing a Routine that works for your family may take a bit of time. You may discover that the routine you have set up does to work for your spouse or child. To avoid this it can be helpful to sit down a discuss the things that need to be done and together you can come up with a plan that works.
- Posting a list of the routine helps. For younger children, pictures work well. The lists can prevent you from feeling like a nag. The child can be reminded of their chart and hopefully, they will follow it.
- Here is a previous blog post that discusses the reasons routines are a good thing in my humble opinion.
5. Involving the children in the preparation.
- Insert sigh or panic here!
- On a more serious note by involving your child in picking out the supplies and clothes (if needed) you may see their enthusiasm for school increase. The reason is that they cannot control the fact they have to go school but they can control what they bring with them or where.
- In addition to the supplies and clothes that may be needed, it is time to get the cupboard, freezer, or fridge filled with school snacks. If you are at a loss for what to send hit Pinterest!!
Now I am off to bake some cupcakes (with my son) so my son’s teacher can put them in the freezer for special occasions.
Feel free to contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a phone consultation if you would like more tips to make the transition to school a positive one.
Bye for now!
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” Thanks to a certain office supply store, this song repeats in my head every year at back to school time. I love the song but I am not so sure it is true. If you talk to my 13-year-old stepson he will tell you that school is okay but he enjoys his unscheduled summer.
This time of year is filled with back to school shopping, going back to school, early morning wake ups, lunch prep, homework, and the never ending extra-curricular activities. Insert a big sigh…
That was my glass is half empty approach! People that know me well know that I am a glass is half full kinda girl.
The things I like about this time of year are as follows: I know when I need to do school pick up; when I get to cheer on my boys at basketball; when we do toddler friendly dance and gymnastics; when I have time to spare; and when I need to get ready to pull out my hair.
Children crave and require predictability and routine. Visual schedules and calendars with lists of activities are helpful. Do not forget to schedule some down time and time to explore with their imaginations. I have observed that children that know what is going to happen next are less anxious. A very good example of routine and schedules would be bedtime!
A bedtime routine should be no more than 45 minutes in duration. A typical bedtime is as follows:
- Brush teeth
- Read Books (no more than 3)
- In bed
- Lights out
I believe that predictable routines and schedules make life as a parent so much easier!! Visual schedules (lists of words and pictures) are great for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. When you include your child in making the schedules they seem to follow them with more zest. Children love pictures! Schedules with pictures and words serve a double purpose (just do not tell your kids!). These schedules can help keep children on task and they teach word recognition! Have fun making your visuals!
Schedules and routines rock!
Take care and happy sleeping,