Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Sensory-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Story and Play Time

St. Patrick and the Three Brave MiceAs March hobbled in with continued cold, flues and pneumonia here at our home, I had hoped its winds would blow our health concerns away in time to allow us to host a St. Patrick’s Day play date.  No such luck.   Our St. Patty’s Day fun with friends, which we shared ideas for at 17 Ideas for Hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Play Date  at Catholic Mother’s Online, will have to wait for another year.

In the meantime, we are honoring St. Patrick by sprinkling activities in between appointments this week.  Yesterday, those activities took the form of a spontaneous Sensory-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Story and Play Time outdoors. 

Want to enjoy such a time yourself?  It’s easy! 

-          a bell (or a drum, since some stories have St. Patrick scaring snakes away with a bell and others with a drum)
-          a copy of St. Patrick and the Three Brace Mice by Joyce A. Stengel (or an alternate story that includes St. Patrick driving snakes away
-          imagination

Sensory Input and Motor Control with Snake Freeze

One person plays St. Patrick and lies down next to a bell to “sleep”, making snoring sounds if possible (for that extra deep breathing, which can be so good!) 

The others are snakes.  They line up a ways away from St. Patrick and on their bellies or on their feet, move toward the sleeping St. Patrick, of course, being encouraged to make hissing sounds (for oral motor input) and waving slithery arms about (for some extra proprioceptive input). 

 When St. Patrick wishes, he reaches for the bell and rings it (auditory inut).  All snakes freeze.  (Motor control, here!)  They stay frozen for as long as St. Patrick rings the bell.  Then, St. Patrick goes back to sleep and snakes move forward again. 
Keep playing until a snake steals the bell or touches St. Patrick.  That person gets to be St. Patrick next.

Running with Delight with a Snake Drive
After playing Snake Freeze for a while, snakes practice darting their tongues in an out (for oral-motor input) and then gather near St. Patrick. St. Patrick clangs the the bell loudly.  The snakes run as fast and far as they can to get away from the bell.  (Pre-set boundaries, of course, so your kids don't try to run several houses down like mine did!)

Some Visual-Auditory Input with a Read-Aloud
St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice
Read St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice by Joyce A. Stengel aloud, really pausing to enjoy the pictures, retell parts of the story, make predictions about what will happen next, etc.

Creative Dramatics with the Three Blind Mice
Retell (or reread) St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice having children act it out.  If outside, be sure “Snake” gathers grass for tactile input.  Also encourage variations in levels (when slithering, sneaking up on one another, jumping up), speed (moving slowly to sneak and quickly to run in fear), facial expressions and vocal tones (sneaky, worried, scared, angry, relieved, etc.)

Letting the Children Lead with Their Own Discoveries and Ideas at Times
For example, my chidlren tried to find some longer grass to braid rope to pull the bell as the mice do in the story – not necessarily the most successful venture, but fun tactile, fine motor fun.

And, my son spotted “baby shamrocks” growing among the dead, dry grass on our lawn.  We picked one to examine and to play St. Patrick teaching the Irish about the three parts of God.

Whatever you do, savor the sunshine and fresh air if you can (no one says story times have to be held inside!) and Go mbeannai Dia duit (May God Bless You).

This post is being shared at Childhood 101's We Play.  Please click on the links there to enjoy other playful ideas.

1 comment:

Rashi said...

Martianne, I did a craft and read a book as well on St. Patrick's Day this week but your post made me I could have done more. Thanks for all the ideas. Do check out my post @


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