Friday, April 30, 2010

Frugal Fridays (Vol. 2): Sensory and Skills Spring Activity Bags with a Bit of Montessori Inspiration

Today, as I continue to reflect on how blessed I am to have the time (sometimes!), talent (or at least inspiration from other Moms, bloggers and authors) and resources (gotta love recycling!) to provide my children with fun activities, I continue to be thankful for the fun and inspiration Activity Bag exchanges have brought my family. These exchanges provide for a such frugal fun and learning! Thus, I thought I would wind up my recent Activity Bags series of posts with a Frugal Friday one. For, the official Activity Bags are meant to cost but $1 or less each, and, original idea bags can cost even less, especially when they are made using recycled, up-cycled, re-purposed, or on-hand materials. Can’t beat that in this day and age of often costly fun and learning games and activities for children!

And, I cannot beat the gratitude I fe el for one of the best activity swap partners ever, in my opinion, a talented and creative mom named Kim who I just did a second swap with. Her ideas and activities are awesome (see this post to see what she sent us during our first exchangeand this one to see what she ust sent us) and her enthusiasm for parenting and playful learning is contagious (be inspired by her Savino Stories blog) Plus, the motivation that swapping with her gives me to kick myself from “thinking” to “doing” gear is great!

With that motivation in mind, recently, when Kim got in touch with me about a Spring Activity bag exchange, since she and her kids had offered positive feedback on most of the Montessori in a Bag activities I had created for them before, and since I have fallen away from focusing on Montessori with Luke and Nina, but want to get back to it, I planned on creating more Montessori in a Bag activities. But, then I decided, that since we’ve recently discovered Luke has mild SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), and since Kim mentioned she is interested in S.I. (Sensory Integration) activities, I would challenge myself, instead, to focus on Sensory and Skill Activities in a Bag with a Bit of Montessori Inspiration thrown in. Additionally, I sought to limit the materials for the bags to recyclable and repurposed ones, as well as anything I had on hand – as that was what Kim and I had agreed upon for our prior exchange parameters, with both "green" and budget responsibilities in mind.

So, here’s what I came up with, which, admittedly, pales in both breadth and also fun with manipulative when compared with what Kim put together for us, but still has been providing a host of fun and learning for the kids, while offering some additional sensory experiences.

(1) Activity Name: Bunny Blow (Oral/Motor and Practical Life)
Aims: alerting/ “speed up the engine” activity to help with oral/motor function, strengthens the respiratory system and speech articulators (tongue, cheek and lips), increased visual range and accuracy, control of movement, etc.
Activity Directions: Place the “Bunny Box” on the floor. Move away from it. Place cotton ball on the floor. Using straw, try to blow cotton ball to the spot on the “Bunny Box” where the tail is.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Make a stand up bunny out of card stock or cardboard with the tail portion cut out. Try to blow the cotton ball through the hole. (2) With two or more people, race to be the first to get your tail to the bunny. (3) Use different sized straws and other objects of different lengths, widths and shapes to blow – twisty straws, drink box straws, toilet paper tubes, etc. (4) As a Montessori Practical Life activity, use a small broom and add have child try to sweep the cotton ball tail to the bunny.
Control of Error: unable to blow cotton ball to match the place of the tail on the “Bunny Box”
Bag Includes: “Bunny Box”, 2 straws, 2 cotton balls
Source Inspiration: "Spirited Shepherd”, p. 210 of The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.
Spring Connection: Bunnies, of course!
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “--struggles with fine motor... and excels with most large motor activities.” (This activity allows for some gross motor skills as children crawl along to blow the cotton ball, but it also enhances fine motor skills as they use the pincer grasp to hold and point the straw.)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head and small objects which may present a choking hazard. Adult supervision is required.

(2) Activity Name: YogaKids Cards (Proprioception, Tactile, Practical Life)
Aims: calming, proprioception activity; tactile activity (if done barefoot), which helps with core strengthening, motor planning, control of movement, balance, calming oneself, concentration, body awareness, etc.
Activity Directions: Place all cards on a plate, face up. Pick up a card and attempt the pose. Then, place card, face down, on the other plate.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Make up your own poses based on animals, vehicles and other things of interest. Try to think of “spring things” to make up your own poses about.(2) Switch out cards with other yoga pose cards. (3) Try to find picture cards or toys to match the names. Put them in a bag or basket and draw one out to decide which pose to do. (4) See MANY ideas and extensions and further explanation of poses in Yoga Kids videos and books by Marsha Wenig (whose website is where these cards fame from!)
Control of Error: unable to perform pose to own satisfaction
Bag Includes: 24 yoga pose cards and 2 plates
Source Inspiration: Yoga KidsMontessori by Hand, Integrated Yoga: Yoga with a Sensory Integrative Approach by Nicole C. Coumo and New Child Montessori
Spring Connection: Better weather! Grab a mat or blanket and do these outside. No mat? No problem? The lawn will provide some great tactile feedback for the feet.
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “...you did these wonderful yoga cards...” (I thought more of a thing that worked would be welcome.)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this
activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head. Adult supervision is required.

(3) Activity Name: Mini Weather Geo-Board (Proprioception, Sensorial)
Aims: proprioception activity for fingers (stretching rubber bands isolate the index and middle fingers and provide traction to those fingers), which helps with control of movement, reinforcement of shapes, motor planning, etc.
Activity Directions: Using the picture-word cards, try to create similar outlined shapes with the elastic on the mini geo-board.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Make shapes freely. (2) Use multiple elastics and layer the shapes. (3) As a hammering or construction activity, make larger geo-boards together using scrap wood and nails or push pins. (4) Practice numbers by challenging child to put elastic around a certain number of push pins. (5) Use tweezers or other “pincer” grasp objects to move the elastic about.
Control of Error: unable to create shapes to own satisfaction
Bag Includes: 1 miniature block-and-push-pin geo-board, 1 elastic, 4 picture-word cards
Source Inspiration: Montessori Services (Email me if you want my cards document for this one.)
Spring Connection: seeing shapes in spring
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “-- is very physical... -- (loves)...anything small or mini.” (My active son loves playing with elastics like this, so maybe yours will, too. And, my daughter, who also likes all things small, finds this just the right size.)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head and small objects which may present a choking hazard. Adult supervision is required.

(4) Activity Name: Tiny Treasure Egg Carton (Tactile, Proprioception, Mathematics)
Aims: tactile (textures of objects found); proprioception (climbing hills, hiking, etc.) activity that helps with one-to-one correspondence, pincer grasp for picking up objects and placing in carton sections, etc.
Activity Directions: Go for a walk outside – up and down inclines, in the woods, if possible – and try to fill each section of the carton with objects from the pictures on the carton.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Instead of using the pictures, simply fill each section of the carton with a different object. Upon completion, explore each object, talking about its texture, what it is called, etc. (2) Before going out, brainstorm 12 or more small objects you might find outside in the spring that would fit in the sections. Race to find them and fill the egg carton. (3) For additional egg carton walk ideas, see Egg Carton Nature Walks.
Control of Error: able to find objects to fill each section of the egg carton
Bag Includes: 1 egg carton with pictures on it
Source Inspiration: a sunny day and an empty egg carton :) (Email me if you want my tiny treasures picture document for this one)
Spring Connection: getting outside in the good weather
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “We are trying to make sure that we get outside more often...” (And here’s a fun way to do it!)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head. Adult supervision is required.

(5) Activity Name: R Playdough Mats (Tactile, Language)
Aims: tactile activity with helps with fine motor coordination, phonics sounds, letter recognition, vocabulary development, etc.
Activity Directions: Using red and blue playdough, make raindrops on one side of mat and any ‘r” objects on the other. Also, using playdough “snakes”, make playdough “R’s” on the outlined “R” and “r” on each side of the mat.
Extensions/Variations: (1) To practice numbers, in dry-erase marker, write a specific number inside the umbrella and make that many raindrops. (2) Draw or print picture cards of different “r” words for use as inspiration for making creations. (3) Pointing to “r’s”, make the phonetic sound for “r”. Then, try to find the other “r” words in the sentence on the mat and decide which color playdough represents an “r” word. (3) Make playdough together and use it in lots of ways.  recipe and ideas at my Playdough in a Tutor's Toolkit post.
Control of Error: unable to fill in “r’s” or to make “r” creations with playdough
Bag Includes: ½ cup red playdough, ½ cup blue playdough, double-sided “R” playdough mat in page protector
Source Inspiration: none in particular -- playdough is a well-known S.I. activity (Email me if you want the two-sided mat document for this one.)
Spring Connection: spring rain
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “We are still working our way through the alphabet...” (Have you gotten to “r” yet? If so, time for a review.)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head. Adult supervision is required.

(6) Activity Name: Puddle Jumping (Proprioception, Language)
Aims: proprioception (jumping) activity, which helps with balance, meaning of prepositions, etc.
Activity Directions: Put the “puddle” on the floor. Using the picture-word cards, decide whether to jump in, over or next to it.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Fill a dishpan with water and put it on the puddle for extra added fun. (2) Add more instruction cards, for example: stomp in, tiptoe through, walk around, etc. (3) Go outside and use the cards for real puddle jumping fun!
Control of Error: unable to match body actions to pictures on the cards
Bag Includes: 1 blue material “puddle”, 3 picture-word cards (in, over and next to), one chant card
Source Inspiration: Learn to Move, Move to Learn by Jenny Clark Brack (frog theme)
Spring Connection: spring rain
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “-- is constantly going, loves to ...just be in motion...” (This activity will focus some of that energy!)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head. Adult supervision is required.

(7) Activity Name: Rain Droppers (Fine Motor/Pre-Handwriting, Practical Life)
Aims: calming fine motor activity to help with focus, concentration, fine motor skills, pincer grasp, etc.
Activity Directions: Fill blue lid with water. Put white lids inside circles on mat. Then, using the dropper, transfer the water to other lids making it “rain” on the “green grass”, on the “trees”, on the “housetop”, but not on “me”.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Draw your own grass, trees, housetop and self. Put in pocket protectors. Then, use a wet sponge – wringing it – to make it “rain” enacting the poem. (2) For fun, watch a you tube video of this poem/song, such as this one. (3) Make up your own things it could rain on and change the pictures on the jars accordingly.
Control of Error: unable to transfer the water
Bag Includes: 1 poem mat in page protector, 4 lids, 1 dropper
Source Inspiration: The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowiitz (p. 305, mention of pincer grasp)
Spring Connection: spring rain
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “-- seems to be picking up anything that -- isn't supposed to ...anything that's 'adult.'” (How about glass jar being used instead of recycled capss?!) “-- struggles with fine motor...” (Droppers are great for developing fine motor skills!)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head. Adult supervision is required.

(8) Activity Name: Make Your Own Clouds (Tactile, Science)
Aims: tactile activity that helps with science vocabulary, nature observation, etc.
Activity Directions: Pick a cloud card. Using cotton balls, create a similar cloud on blue background paper.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Use glue, cotton balls, pom poms, white glitter and paper to make cloud collages inspired by picture cards. (2) Use cards as part of “circle time” to identify clouds outside each day. (3) Make a matching set and play games with them – Go Fish, Concentration, etc.  (Some further ideas for playing with cards can be found at my Card Crazy post.)
Control of Error: do not feel that cotton creation represents picture cards
Bag Includes: 7 cloud identification cards, various cotton balls, several pieces of blue paper
Source Inspiration: ETC Pres Inc. Cloud Types
Spring Connection: getting outside to look at the clouds
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “-- likes cards and note pads, anything --size.” (Thought some new cards might be welcome then!)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head and small objects which may present a choking hazard. Adult supervision is required.

(9) Activity Name: Spring Flowers Find –n-Color (Proprioception, Fine Motor, Pre-Writing)
Aims: proprioception activity (if the nature walk includes lots of climbing and “hard” walking), fine motor activity that helps with fine motor, nature observation, colors, etc.)
Activity Directions: Go on a nature walk to search for each of the flower types. Inspect them. Note their colors. Then, come home and color the pages.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Use the coloring sheets as playdough mats, making playdough insects fly on and around the flowers. (2) Play “Run and Get” inside with another person by laying all the flower pictures face up and having one person call the name of a flower while the other runs to get it. (3) Play “Run and Touch” outside with another person by having one person use the pictures as calling cards and the other person running to touch an appropriate flower, something that is the same color as it, something that starts with the same letter as it, etc. (4) For even more sensory input, use scented crayons or markers for coloring and be sure to smell the flowers!
Control of Error: unsatisfied with coloring
Bag Includes: 5 coloring pages in a page protector, crayons
Source Inspiration: Activity Village
Spring Connection: Spring flowers
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “--likes coloring, reading, and writing...” (Well, then, these should be a hit and should help with a nice nature walk.)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed overhead. Adult supervision is required.

(10) Activity Name: Spring Match-n-Run Cards (Proprioception, Sensorial)
Aims: proprioception activity to help with visual discrimination, language, memory, etc.
Activity Directions: Put one set of cards face up on the floor. Some distance away, place the control cards on the floor, face up. Close eyes and drop a pom pom on the control cards. Run/crawl/hop/jump to find the matching car for whatever picture the pom pom lands on. Continue until all cards are matched.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Cut second set of cards and lay “Go Fish”. (2) Cut second set of cards and play “Concentration”. (3) See Maitri Learning's good ideas. (4) Adapt ideas from my Card Crazy post.
Control of Error: cannot match cards – cards left over
Bag Includes: 1 sets of 16 spring photo cards, 3 pages of control mats for cards, 1 pom pom
Source Inspiration: Montessori for Everyone
Spring Connection: Spring objects and scenes.
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “-- likes cards.” (These cards should be appealing then, and as both kids love to be on the move, all the running will be fun!)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head and small objects which may present a choking hazard. Adult supervision is required.

(11) Dandelion Life Cycle Models (Tactile, Science)
Aims: tactile activity that helps with fine motor, motor planning, science concepts, nature observation, etc.
Activity Directions: Look at Dandelion Life Cycle Cards. Choose one. Using pom poms and chenille strips build a model of a dandelion at a specific stage. Untwist everything and try making a model of a different stage of the dandelion.
Extensions/Variations: (1) As a connected motor activity that helps with oral/motor function, strengthens the respiratory system and speech articulators (tongue, cheek and lips), go outside and find dandelions in different stages of their life cycle and then, blow, blow, blow some for seed dispersal (2) Place cards in the correct order of a dandelion’s life cycle.
Control of Error: cannot make models to satisfaction
Bag Includes: 2 white pom poms, 2 yellow pom poms, 2 green pom poms, 3 green chenille strips, 6 Dandelion Life Cycle cards
Source Inspiration: Sparklebox  (I am taking down the link to Sparklebox and giving warning to all about something I just learned:  The woner of the site was jailed for reasons related to children and the internet.  See this article.)
Spring Connection: Dandelions are growing.
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “-- struggles with fine motor.” “We are trying to make sure that we get outside more often...” (Making the models will help with fine motor skills will presenting different tactile sensations. Getting outside to the see the real is a great connection! Plus, somewhere in your blog, I thought I saw you mention the kids love pom poms!)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head and small objects which may present a choking hazard. Adult supervision is required.

(12) Spring Bug Hunt (Proprioception, Science)
Aims: proprioception activity (if using a lot of crawling, hill climbing, lifting rocks, etc.) that helps with one to science vocabulary, one correspondence, fine motor skills, pincer grasp, etc.
Activity Directions: Choose one strip of bug picture cards. Take it and the clothespins outside. As you spot a bug, clip a clothespin to its picture.
Extensions/Variations: (1) Go to Sparklebox. Print a second set of pictures and use them for Lotto or other matching games. (2) Using playdough or modeling clay, try to create models of the bugs. (3) Set a time limit and try to find as many of the bugs as you can during it. (I am taking down my links to Sparklebox as of 5/2/10 after learning that the owner of the site has been jailed for reasons involving children and the Internet.  See this article.)
Control of Error: cannot find bugs and clip clothepins to cards
Bag Includes: 3 bug picture card strips, 6 clothespins
Source Inspiration: Sparklebox.co.uk
Spring Connection: The bugs are all coming out this season
Swap Partner’s Descriptor Inspiration: “-- struggles with fine motor.” “We are trying to make sure that we get outside more often...” (Clothespin work helps with fine motor and pincer grasp – a great pre-writing activity. Looking for the bugs will get you outside.)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head and small objects which may present a choking hazard. Adult supervision is required.

Of course, I would love to hear about variations others do with activities modeled after these or with similar types of activities, as well as to receive links to posts about additional Activity Bag and Sensory Integration Activities (bag or no bag). So, please leave a comment.

And, if you just cannot get enough Activity Bag ideas, please be sure to click here for my growing series of posts on them. In doing so, you will find posts with pictures and descriptions of over 50 different bags that we have enjoyed so far – Montessori, Fun and Learning, Skills, Travel and all!

Finally, if you would like to check out others Frugal Friday tips, I invite you to visit the links at Life as Mom for tips on all topics - homeschooling, housekeeping, sewing, shopping -- you name it!.

11 comments:

Hartley said...

Hi,

I have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder as well, and I absoultely LOVE your ideas!

Are you interested in doing a guest post on my blog where you can make some suggestions for sensory activities my readers can do over the summer with thier kids? I think my readers would love it. Let me know!

Hartley
Author of This is Gabriel Making Sense of School
www.hartleysboys.com

Jennifer said...

I have a child with SPD and these are great activities. Spring is a tough time of year for my son with so many changes in clothing and daylight and covers on the bed, etc. I am always looking for new sensory activities.

Martianne said...

I am so glad to be able to share ideas that might be able to help other families with SPD children. Seasonal changes (and simply life ones!) are always challenging, but some of the challenges, provide lots of opportunity for learning, creativity and love, right? We are all blessed by our unique kids!

Discovering Montessori said...

Hi!

You have wonderful ideas. I really like the cloud and dandelion work.

Mari said...

wow geat ideas. i have a child whom is 2 with spd as well as a 10 y/o but for him he is too old lol. but i am highly interested in creating these activity bags. how do is it done? thank you www.sprinkles-of-fun.com

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I loved the dandelion and the spring hunt with pegs (from Sparklebox site) - Is it possible to still get these pictures? I don't have access to the site for the reasons mentioned.

Martianne said...

I am not sure who "anonymous is" so I cannot post a personal reply. To be 100% honest, I believe the site is still up, but I would not recommend using it and will not use it myself, even though I liked the resources there. It would be easy enough to recreate similar ideas using clip art, and, in doing so, you would not be supporting a felon... Just a thought. And, if you care to give me your contact info or a blog link, I would be happy to reply to you personally to help you with ideas for creating similar activities.

2 Pequeños Traviesos said...

HI Martianne! I'm really impressed by all the creative activities you have here. I'm also interested in finding out more about SPD. I'm suspecting something "weird" is going on with my 3 yo. Sadly, he's usually angry and in a bad mood. I'd love to be able to help him. I had this other blog-mommy that recommended me books and sites about the subject but can't seem to find it.
Your help will be greatly appreciated!!!

Leslie said...

Hi Martianne,

Thank you so much for posting a link on my blog to this post! What a lot of great ideas!!! I need to find time now to make some of these too.

I've also been using your ABC alerting cards with my child with SPD and am thankful for your willingness to share them! I'm hoping to blog on SI sometime soon and will share a link to your blog.

Again, thank you so much for sharing!

Blessings
Leslie

Kim said...

Linked from Pinterest!!!!!

VenessaWilson said...

I loved all the ideas you shared. Thanks a lot for sharing. I'm really going to implement all of these.

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