Friday, July 29, 2011

A Summer Sensory Diet Series: Musical Interludes for Sensory Summer Fun

So far in our Summer Sensory Diet Series, we have shared:
Today, I want to spotlight a fun frugal (read: free) activity that we enjoy out in the community:  time at summer concert series for Auditory, Fine Motor, Gustatory, Gross Motor, Motor Planning, Proprioceptive and Vestibular fun:
Musical Interludes

Got a blanket? How about a picnic bag, a basket or a cooler to pack some chewy or crunchy tidbits into? Then, you are all set for some family fun at your local free summer concert series. 
Okay, you might need to pack a few more things, of course – bug spray, sun lotion, extra clothing, even ear plugs if your child has sensitive hearing – but the bare minimum is the blanket and the food, in my opinion.

Now, it’s not rocket science how this input for great summer sensory input goes. – pack the picnic, go to the venue, spread out your blanket, eat, listen to the music and enjoy.
Through Your SPD Lenses
The difference in just attending a free concert and in attending one as a sensory experience, is all in the details.
Pack your picnic, keeping crunchy, chewy, salty, sweet, tangy and/or spicy foods in mind for the greatest oral-motor and gustatory stimulation.  If possible, have your child help you prepare and pack whatever items you choose.  It’s a perfect natural activity for encouraging strong motor planning and fine motor skill use and gets tactile stimulation in.  Slicing fruits and vegetables.  Putting lids onto food containers.  Doling crunchy or salty snacks into personal portions, placing them in bags and pressing to seal the bags. All these things provide ample opportunity for working fine motor muscles.
Once packed, when you get to the concert venue park a little ways away (but not so far you’ll tire your child out just by getting to the stage area.).  Have your child help you carry the blanket, food and other thing you’ve packed in order to get some heavy work in.
Then, depending on how your child does with loud sounds and crowds, spread your blanket down in a spot you feel will work.  In other words, choose one in the thick of things or on the outskirts, depending on your child’s auditory comfort level.
Spot picked, it’s time to enjoy the picnic and music.  Drumming fingers and hands on food containers to the beat.  Dancing to it.  Jumping to it.  Rocking to it.  Spinning to it.  All these things provide opportunities for proprioceptive and vestibular input.  Just be sure to gauge your child.  Know when to encourage more movement and when it might be time for a calming, deep-pressure cuddle.
(1) Look around at the venue you are in.  What natural elements are there for input for the large muscle and small muscle groups?  Are there boulders for climbing up on and jumping off of?  Hills to climb up and roll down?  Water to toss rocks into?  At each concert venue we attend, we always find such elements that become “traditional” spots for the kids to have fun and for us to know we are sneaking in more nourishment for their sensory diets.

(2) Might you pack any little extras to encourage further vestibular or proprioceptive input?  At one venue we attend, the organizers provide hula hoops, bubbles and jump ropes for the children to play with.  Brilliant!  Most of the children love to play with these as they listen to the music.  Other children ask to take the equipment a bit further from the music area so they can tune out for a bit while concentrating on something else.
(3) Might you add a bit of visual tracking into the experience?  At some concerts, we’ve taken to bringing a small soft rubbery ball with us.  Then, our son can get visual tracking and motor planning practice by playing a game of traditional catch or by tossing it up into the air or against a tree or wall, following its course in order to catch it.
(4) What kinds of instruments can you make with the objects you have in your packed bags or ones found on the site?  Rocks in a plastic food container make a great shaker.  Almost anything can be a drum.  An elastic around and open container can become a stringed instrument for plucking.  (Think pincer skills with that one!)

(5) After attending a concert, let your children plan and set up their own, in your house or outside.  Setting it up makes for great heavy work.  Performing allows for creativity and more sensory input.
How do you slip sensory experiences into your child’s summer through musical interludes?  What do you do to tailor the activities to your child's needs?  Do you have further ideas for weaving fun and input into such experiences.  Do share!
And, check back soon for the next part of our Summer Sensory Diet Series to join us at the water’s edge.
This post is being shared at Life as Mom's Frugal Fridays.


Lisa Quinones Fontanez said...

Great post! Thanks for the ideas :)

Martianne said...

Delighted that someone else can find them useful, Lisa. :)


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