Friday, July 29, 2011

A Summer Sensory Diet Series: Tiny Treasure Egg Carton Walks for Sensory Summer Fun

Today, I want to spotlight an activity we enjoy when summer days are not too hot:  time out on the trails for Tactile Olfactory, Proprioception, Gross Motor and Fine Motor fun.
Tiny Treasures Egg Carton Walks 
Grab some egg cartons and go! What could be simpler than that?

Head to your back woods, seaside trail or any nearby green space or beach and enjoy a family nature walk. The more hills or dunes the better – since walking up and down them works muscles! Fallen trees for balancing, large rocks for lifting and looking under, boulders for climbing up and jumping off, plus varied trail floors (think sand, packed dirt, gravel, etc.) are all extra bonuses. Not only do they add to the adventure, but they help feed the senses a richer diet!

Once on the trail, challenge every hiker with you to fill each section of an egg carton with a different tiny treasure.
For younger children who tire of carrying things quickly, or for any child who needs both hands for balance, consider, bringing along a back pack to hold the egg carton, or simply use a plastic shopping bag with one hole over each of the child’s shoulders, as a make shift back pack.
When you finish your hike, explore each collected item, talking about its texture, trying to identify its name, even sketching things if you like.  Or, like we did recently, add an extra element of tactile input in by capping things off with a sink or float experiment.

Looking through your SPD Lenses

This activity feeds the tactile sense due to the textures of objects found as well as those brushed against while hiking. Plus, if you have tough feet and are in a safe place, the trail floor can give a little extra sensation – nothing wrong with going barefoot!

Trails are full of different scents. Breathe deeply and take them all in for some olfactory sense stimulation!

Climbing hills, moving up and down along trails and lifting logs, rocks and debris to search for tiny treasures are all effective proproceptive activities.

The trunk, leg and arm muscles are employed to navigate the trails, providing gross motor activity, while using the pincer grasp to pick up objects and place them in the egg carton sections provides fine motor focus.
(1) Before heading out to the trails, print pictures of, or sketch, 12 small objects. Tape these to the top of your egg cartons and challenge everyone to scavenge for similar items to fill their egg cartons with.

(2) At the trailhead, brainstorm 12 or more small objects that you might find which would fit in the carton’s sections. Race to find them and fill your egg carton.

(3) Have a contest to see who can find the most unique items. The most items of a specific color in varying shades (think browns, greens, grays –and visual discrimination, too!); the most variation in textures (prickly, sandy, smooth, rough, hard, etc.); the most examples of any one kind of thing (seeds, rocks, leaves, etc.) or the most differently scented items (think pine, blooms, hummus, etc.)

(4) Tie the walk to themes of interest or study – rocks and minerals, identifying tree types by examining leaves and bark, finding plant parts, using one side of the carton for living and one side for non-living things, etc.

(5) Enjoy some fine motor artistry by breaking out pens, pencils, paint or other art mediums after hiking, to create pictures based on objects found. Or, grab glue and paper and make a collage.
For additional egg carton walk ideas, see 7 Egg Carton Nature Walks at Squidoo.  It’s not a well-developed page, but it offers some further ideas.
Or, try a color walk.  No egg carton needed, but a camera is handy!
Also, if you haven’t had a chance to read a Bucket List of Ideas for Summer Sensory Fun , click on over for 15 more ways you can feed your child's need for sensory experiences in the coming weeks.
Finally, be sure to share your favorite ideas for nature walks and summer sensory experiences below and be sure to stop back soon for a sensory-based musical interlude.


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