Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sensorimotor Fun for Ezra Jack Keat's The Snowy Day

How do you move from this:

 The Snowy Day

to this:

And what is that anyway?

Let me share: Yesterday, after reading our read-aloud book of the week, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, I facilitated an adapted version of Jenny Clark Bracks’s wonderful Learn to Move, Move to Learn!: Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity Themes Winter Snow lesson. First, Luke. Nina and I rolled “snowballs” on our bodies while singing an impromptu verse:

We roll the snowball on our (body part).
We roll it.
We roll it.
We roll the snowball on our (body part).
We roll it all around.

The “snowballs” were rolled up flexible ice packs for Luke and me and a rolled up burp cloth for Nina, who was not too keen on the cold of the ice packs. Rolling them on our bodies gave us some tactile input, while encouraging body awareness. Singing while doing it provided auditory and oral-motor input. Plus, perhaps more importantly, our “snowball” singing elicited lots of giggles as the kids took turns trying to outdo each other with which body part we should roll our snowballs on next.

Bodies warmed up (or, more literally, cooled off), we, then snuck in a bit of math while stimulating our vestibular senses with a bit of Snowman Freeze. How? We became snowmen by spinning in circles while counting until I called, “freeze”, at which point, we all froze at different levels as short, fat, tall or skinny snowmen. As per Jennie Clark Brack’s suggestion in the Winter Snow theme lesson, we only did this twice in each direction so as not to overload our vestibular sense. That worked for the kids, but not for Momma. I suffered a bit of being off-balance for the rest of the afternoon. So, other adults with aged systems, take not and beware: spinning may be best left to the kiddoes!

From there, it was time for some more vestibular input for the kids, along with a huge dose of proprioception as we jumped and dove into a “snowpile” (a bean bag chair), rolled our bodies into snowballs and rolled around the floor. The kids loved this so much, they have been attacking the snowpile at random moments ever since.

After that, it was time for some balance work, along with some motor planning and auditory input. This took the form of “skating” on styrofoam trays to the “Clap Your Hands” song from Baby Sing and Sign. Amazing how just the addition of the styrofoam trays made the skating activity so much more engaging for the kids than our usual sock-skating has become. (Thanks, Jennie!) And, how much more fun was it to try to skate the actions in the “Clap Your Hands” song. Good times!

Then, for the final guided portion of the “lesson”, we crumpled up sales flyers as “snowballs” to throw at a “snow bank” ( the beanbag chair). This led naturally into free exploratory child-led play. Thus, we did not go on to make any more of Jennie Clark Brack’s Winter Snow lesson our own.

Instead, the kids worked their fine motor and cooperation skills by teaming up to rip apart the styrofoam trays – which had broken a bit during our skating activity – in order to make more snow. Nina, then, went and got her real snow boots to stomp around in the snow, before deciding to play a little fill-and-dump, by making it snow with “different kinds of snow” (the paper and styrofoam) into her boots, dumping it and starting again. She also went and got her broom to practice some practical life skills through sweeping the snow into a pile.

Meanwhile Luke filled his high-need for proprioception by throwing around a giant snowball ( the beanbag) before – and here is where that picture from the top of the post comes in – building a snowman.

I cannot say enough about how “loose parts” inspire creativity (even when I would prefer some of the parts – like our lamp shade – not become “loose”.) and, if you are wondering, the base of the snowman is the beanbag chair. The next "ball" is a couch cushion and the face is made from an old keyboard as the mouth, the round broken knob of a little synthesizer as the nose and some hand weights as eyes, all topped off with a lampshade hat. Luke came up with this 100% on his own as I watched in wonder as to what he was creating -- and Nina liked the creation so much, she left her dump-and-full boot on the couch to come over to play with the snowman!

Together again, Luke and Nina used boppy pillows, a cradle mattress and a hand weight holder as sleds, sliding off couches and chairs and around the room -- another favorite activity they came up with all on their own and continue to do today.

And Jack? He was not so interested in all the snow. He preferred to explore his own sensorimotor world by busying himself with spinning round on his belly on a blanket to grasp toys and chew on nearby backpack straps.

How about you and your children? how have you been enjoying sensorimotor play this week? do share in a comment. And, to enjoy more play inspiration, check out the links at Childhood 101's We Play.


The Sunshine Crew said...

Very cute sensorimotor idea. hope that you will pop by this week and enter some of the giveaways I have going on this week. Have a happy week,

joyce:waddleahchaa.com said...

Sounds like the Snowy Day was a huge inspiration, I love that book. Thanks for stopping by waddleeahchaa. :) joyce

Isil Simsek said...

They must have had such fun :)


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