Yes, since Mike will be away at drill next weekend, and since the forecast said that Saturday was supposed to be the nicer of this past weekend’s two days, we decided to have a “just-us” family Mother’s Day outing that day. And, where did we go? White Horse Beach! The beach Mike and I were betrothed and where we walk with the kids every year on our betrothal anniversary.
And, some of those simple pleasures fit so naturally into toddler/pre-k sensory fun and learning. Perfect! That allowed us to subtly maintain Luke’s sensory diet (which helped stave off potential day-spoiling melt downs in late afternoon) and both the kids’ sense of exploration and fun.
What do I mean?
Then, as soon as we got to a spot to drop our blanket and bags, Luke raced off to the shoreline – a surprise, since last year he would have very little to do with ocean water. Splashing right in up to his knees, Luke called “Daddy, Daddy, play with me!” Poor Mike followed, thinking the water must be unseasonably warm since Luke barely paused upon entry. Wrong! It was frigid. But, Daddy braved it, since Luke quickly declared, “I like the coldness! Come in, Daddy!” (So glad Luke was in a “Daddy-play-with-me” mood, not a Mommy one and so proud that Daddy, who usually refuses to enter Massachusetts’ waters at all costs, braved numbness to ankles and calves to enjoy time with his boy! Besires, someone had to stay with Nina, who had found the munchies...)
Later, there was tracking and tactile fun: following the trail made by a truck’s tires down the beach. While tracking, Luke “discovered” tire-compressed, just a wee bit damp sand wafers he could pick up whole and compared them with the dry, soft, loose sand just off the tracks. Nina and Luke also noticed and touched many textures (rocks, sand, dried sea weed, etc.) and picked up big rocks of different colors and patterns to carry along the trail. Got to love that heavy work!
And, for more visual discrimination along the beach walking way: wish rock hunting! Since childhood, I have followed a tradition of finding “wish rocks” – rocks with white rings all the way around them – to throw in the water with a wish or prayer in mind. Luke and Nina are already learning this tradition, and kept their eyes peeled for wish rocks, racing down to the shoreline to toss found gems into the water, and, then, running back to tell us their wishes and prayers – everything from bringing the dinos back, to meeting Baby soon, to prayers for Nana and Papa. Not bad! Sensory diet, physical fitness, visual discrimination and prayer time all in one simple, fun, spontaneous activity.
Nina and Luke also enjoyed lots of digging sand, making rock and sand constructions and filling, carrying and emptying buckets – no-brainer beach activities that are super sensorimotor activities and introduce concepts of engineering, science and even social skills (respecting one another’s spaces, bodies and constructions!) when you look at them with educator-parent lenses.
And, so it was that we thoroughly enjoyed a family beach day – making me so grateful to be the Mom of two active, inquisitive, happy children and wife to one super Dad -- while easily seeing how the beach and Jammies School (albeit in swimsuits) fit together. (I will now have no guilt about “schooling” at the beach as many times as my preganancy allows this spring and early summer! The SPD-early child lenses I put on there preclude guilt.)