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!!
Dreams can be wonderful and downright terrifying! It can be very difficult to explain to children that dreams are not real. Even as adults sometimes it can be very hard to shake off a bad dream.
First lets, chat about what a dream is
Dreams are thoughts that occur during periods of sleep. According to William C. Dement, MD., Ph.D., and author of “The Promise of Sleep”, we dream during all stages of sleep; however, we recall more dreams during the REM stage of sleep.
Our children will be able to recall some of their dreams and may have a hard time understanding that they are not real. The best thing for us to do is to explain what dreams are in a calm manner at a time not associated with sleep.
How can you explain a dream to a child?
Children are very concrete thinkers who respond well to simple and clear statements. A good way for you to explain a dream to your child is to tell them that a dream is a story your brain tells while you sleep. You can explain that these stories are not real but can feel real.
How can you teach your child to cope with dreaming?
1. Empathize with your child
2. Remind your child the dream was a story while he slept
3. Let your child talk about the dream
4. Teach your child to take a deep breath and to think about something different using meditations.
- A basic meditation would be to have your child sit or lay down then have them imagine that their feet feel very heavy, then move the heavy feeling to various body parts of their body and you can head with their head.
- There are a number of apps that help with Guided meditations. One good one we use is Insight Timer.
- You can also get a number of books that are meditations or teach children how to meditate. The follow are my favourite:
- Stress Free Kids has a number of audiobooks. Our favourite is Indigo Dreams
- Sitting Still Like a Frog Mindfulness Exercises for kids (and their Parents)
5. If your child is struggling with their dreams you can try making or purchasing a Dream Catcher. A Dream Catcher is a Native American tradition where a catcher is placed above a child’s bed. Then you explain that the Dream Catcher will catch all her dreams and pass the good dreams on to her.
In my experience, a child seems to be better able to cope with and understand their dreams closer to 4 years of age. This is when the fun begins and children may love to fall asleep so they can dream!
Please feel free to send me a message or start a discussion in the form area regarding your child’s dreams.
Sleep Teaching or Sleep Training can be very frustrating.
I received the following note from a member a few weeks ago:
“This is not going well. Twice we were able to do the drowsy but awake but last night he wasn’t going on that crib for anything. Such a fight. Screaming and crying. Even transferring him was almost impossible.”
I hear this quite often. Typically, Night 4 or 5 is the absolute most difficult. You would think it would be getting much easier. The reality is that things “get worse before they get better”!!
When things are feeling impossible know that it is actually a good thing. This is an extinction burst! Once the burst happens you will slowly start to see change.
Unfortunately, your child’s sleep needs are ever changing which means you may be dealing with night wakings after you have had a few weeks of “bliss’. This can be very frustrating. It begins to feel like all you are doing is trying to figure out the next sleep related issue.
The following is a list of things can have an effect on your child’s sleep:
1. Learning a new skill
2. Growth Spurt
5. Separation anxiety
6. Not getting enough time awake during the day
My best piece of advice regarding this is to know that it is normal and that once you get comfortable with making minor changes as needed you will fly through all these changes. There will be some minor bumps but with time and consistency, your child’s sleep will get back on track.
As always please feel free to connect with me to discuss your child’s sleep concerns. You can send me a message through the website, write a post on a forum, or drop a note into the private Facebook group.
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!