We love to provide opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world. ‘Sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.
This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.
In our Sit Spots we focused on our senses and discussed all the different sensations we experienced.
In our Taste Garden we planted many different seasonal herbs:
Fennel (fun taste test to do with the dill as they look so similar)
- Add 1 tsp each of dried rosehips, chamomile, peppermint, orange peel, rose petals, hibiscus, and lemon balm in each jar.
- Add 1 small pinch of dried stevia to each jar.
- Cover with 2 cups of spring or filtered water.
- Set in the gentle rays of the setting sun for 1 hour.
- De-stem 15 to 20 stems of garden herbs - we used oregano, rosemary, thyme, and winter savory.
- Coarsley chop herbs.
- Add chopped herbs to 2/3 cup sea salt and briefly grind in a suribachi or mortar and pestle.
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/4 cup of spice - cinnamon, turmeric, and paprika
- 1 cup salt
- 1 tbs oil
- 1 cup cold water
Mud is also an excellent medium for learning. The same release of serotonin that occurs when playing in Mycobacterium Vaccaedirt has also been shown to improve cognitive function. And the rich, engaging sensory play children partake in while playing with mud allows them to express their creativity while enhancing their fine motor skills. Children practice social skills such as cooperation, negotiation, communication, and sharing as they work together. Emergent math and science skills are practiced as children make before and after comparisons, solve problems, test theories, and measure and count ingredients for their mud pies. This is the scientific process in action!
Mud is a wonderful art medium, it is in ample supply, can be easily molded to create endless sculptures, and responds differently than clay or play dough. The open-ended nature of mud encourages creative thinking and allows children to freely create without fear of making mistakes. This also contributes to a child’s sense of self, helping to build a strong inner sense of competency.
Mud play is inclusive of all children. It allows children to play at their own developmental level. Mud is an open ended material that meets the diverse needs and interests of different children. Younger or less skilled children might focus on the sensory experience whereas older children may have more specific goals in mind for their mud play. Allow children to explore the mud at their own comfort level. With mud, there is something for everyone and there are no wrong answers.
Playing in the mud inspires children to feel a connection to nature and develop an appreciation for the environment. Many children today have limited opportunities to play outdoors and it is difficult to care about the environment if you have not had the chance to spend time in nature. By providing time outdoors and the chance for muddy, messy play, you facilitate a love of the earth."
Shaving foam with food coloring is so much fun!
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of corn flour
- 10 tablespoons olive oil
- food coloring
- baking soda
- dishwashing soap
- hydrogen peroxide
Waldorf Curriculum - an awesome free resource!
Cultivating gratitude has been shown to help increase children’s happiness and self-esteem, while also improving their relationships with others.
Continue the learning at home by creating a gratitude journal with your child. Journaling is a great way for children to express creatively, self reflect, practice fine motor skills, and develop an appreciation for the people and things in their lives. Below are some tips for getting started.
1. Create the journal
Bind together different colors of construction paper. Encourage your child to decorate a cover for the journal using markers, crayons, stickers or photographs. On each blank page of the notebook, write “I am grateful for” at the top. We tried to leave several blank pages for you to continue the process at home.
2. Integrate journaling into your child’s routine
Determine the best 5-10 minutes each day for your family to sit down and journal without interruptions. Have your child draw, write or describe to you items that he is grateful for. Consistency is key for developing a habit, so try to follow the same sequence of events each day (i.e. dinner time, journal time, bath time, bed time).
3. Give prompts if needed
Expressing gratitude might not come easily at first for your child and that’s okay. Prompt him by asking questions, such as “Who is a family member or friend you are grateful for and why?”, “What is one thing you enjoyed doing today?” or “What is one of your favorite toys?” Ask your child to draw a picture and if age appropriate, write a few words describing the drawing. Model positive behavior by sharing your own moment of gratitude for the day.
4. Set small goals
Set a short term goal with your child, such as journalling each day in November. At the end of the month, remind your child of the fun they had by reviewing the entries together. You might be surprised to learn that your child wants to continue using the gratitude journal! If so, brainstorm a new goal and create a new journal if necessary.
No amount is too small to make a difference!