Ever so slowly I am learning about the benefits of sensory play. Its something I’ve steered away from in the past because I associated it with messy play which I don’t agree with. However learning more about it I’ve realised sensory play is more than making a big mess with food. I called on my teacher friend for help who gave me some fun activities. But it was only as I was reading the book Child of Our Time I realised about the importance of the sense of smell. The book fell open on this page.
I immediately started Pinteresting things to do. One of the things I found interesting were scent bottles. You get 3 or 4 bottles with holes in the top and fill each with a different scented item and give them to the child to smell.
I put this all to the back of my head and went to collect my Daughter from school. We went on our daily visit to the park where I decided to collect Fir cones for a science experiment. Unfortunately we found only one. Regardless we carried on our walk too the little forest area where a big branch had fallen from a Fir tree. I remember driving through the hills in Greece on a hot day and being surrounded by the wonderful smell of Fir trees. I picked up a bunch of the spiky leaves and took them home.
When we got home we found an empty spice jar. Spice jars are the perfect size for little hands and they have holes in the top to let the scent out. We chopped the leaves or needles in half to fit in the jar and release more scent.
I layed out the fir cone, branch and the sensory bottle on the floor and let the children play.
Noori is 7 years old she felt the texture of all the items and described how they felt . She smelt all the items and described how they smelt. Lastly she described how they look. This is great for sensory reasons, vocabulary and observing skills. As you get older its funny how we don’t smell things. It takes quite a while to be able to pick up a scent. Try it and have a go.
Abdi is 6 months. He held the scent jar in both hands and was able to move it around and look at the leaves inside without spiking himself. Then I opened the lid and let him smell inside. Afterwards I got some warm water and put the Fir cone inside to see if would expand.
It didn’t but both children enjoyed playing with it in the water. Abdi likes to play with his hands in water. It was a challenge for him to catch the pine cone as it moved away from him. We then let him play with the stick and splash it around in the water learning cause and effect.
We then read Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and did a sensory story. I went through the story and picked out some keywords. Fir tree, lettuce and blackberries.
As each item was mentioned we explored it.
The opening page;
” Peter Rabbit lives with his Mother and sisters under the root of a big Fir tree.”
We used the scent bottle and imagined how living in the Fir tree would smell like the leaves. Imagine if one of those plasticy sharp spiky needles fell on you at your front door.
The next page involved the blackberries.
We picked up a blackberry and described how it looked. Noori noticed that it looked like lots of elderberries stuck together. It was shiny, smooth and bumpy at the same time.
She then smelled the berries and described a sour berry smell.
She tasted it and described it as cold and sour.
We then let Abdi smell it and have a taste.
When I first read the story I presumed the bunnies ate blackberry jam on bread and drank milk with it. As we looked closely at the picture we noticed they were using spoons and eating from a big pot. I googled it and found a recipe.
Noori cut a slice of bread into small squares sprinkled sugar on top and covered it with some milk. We then boiled it up until mushy and garnished it with black berries. We ate it from a dish with spoons just like the rabbits. I read that in the olden days the is what they used to feed babies, so we let Abdi have a small taste aswell.
I thought it tasted nice espcially on a cold day if your were really hungry. Noori said it tastes just ok, like Cerelac.
Next was lettuce.
Again she felt it, smelt it and ate it describing it as ‘a potatoe skin taste’.
It was quite hard to pick up the scent but after a while that was all I could smell.
We had so much fun exploring this story through nature our senses and food. What a fantastic way to learn and bring a story to life.
Have you explored any stories like this ? I’d love to hear all about it.
Also how about any sensory activities using objects from nature.
We have also had fun exploring the book ‘Chickens Can’t See In The Dark’.
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