Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lenten Sensory Bags and Bad Plumbing

Last Thursday was a mess at our home – literally!

Just after I began a Lenten sensory activity with the children, one of the kids had to go potty.  After several minutes, a voice cried out, “Mom, the toilets clogged.”  Thus, began the mess.

While I played plumber with the toilet – and the bathroom sink, which ended up clogged as well (long story!) – the children wanted to continue their sensory activity.  I did my best to keep tabs in both the bathroom and the kitchen, but, before I knew it, the bathroom was a mess of overflowing toilet water, disassembled sink pipes and wet towels and the kitchen table was splattered with body products and – almost – food coloring.

Note what Jack is reaching for.  Food coloring.  Ohhhh no!

All’s well that ends well, though.  By evening, the bathroom toilet and sink were again working and the kids were asking to play with their purple sensory bags again.

Just what was in the bags?

A 3-in-1 Lenten Sensory Experience: Purging, Praying and Playing

Enjoying Lenten-purple sensory bags.

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I am committed to continuing to purge clutter from our home.  This is a much-needed undertaking that has stopped and started for – oh – almost as long as we have lived in our home. 

Last Thursday, I decided to purge some of the bathroom closet clutter, which included hotel-sized shampoos, conditioners and body lotions that were either opened or too old for me to consider creating donation baskets with them. 

So, rather than just trash the hodge-podge of body care items, I thought we’d pray and play with them first.

After watching the Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure segment about purple being a color of penance in Lent, the kids and I said some prayers and talked about penance.

Then, we got busy making sensory bags to play with.

Jack, vigorously shaking a bottle, determined to get the stuff in it to plop inside his bag.

First, we got tactile and olfactory input in while pouring the body products into sandwich bags.  Some of these did not want to come out of their containers, no matter how vigorously the kids shook and squeezed, so between unexpected plumbing duties, I helped the kids cut, squeeze and otherwise get as much goop out of each container as they could.

Mr. Independence,squeezing out some lotion, with a hodge-podge of other bottles and tubes to add to his bag.

Then, came the food coloring.

Nina counting out dye drops.

Luke and Nina remembered which two colors combine to make purple, so each of the three kids took turns using their pincer grasps to drop red and blue dye into their bags.

We sealed the bags and the kids got in some hand heavy work through mixing away while I took another turn at playing plumber.

"It's making purple."

Not long after I had re-entered the bathroom for another turn at the toilet, I heard the kids calling out with delight as they noticed their bags turning different shades or purple.  They asked me why each of their bags did not turn out to be the same shade.  So, I paused plumbing pursuits for the mini art and science lesson:  different ratios of dye drops, different products combos on each bag and all that.  Then, I went back to the bathroom, and the kids went back to their sensory explorations.

Once I found myself under the bathroom sink with water spurting out a portion of pipe that I had pulled apart and cleared, a call for Mom came again.  With giggled and shouts, Luke and Nina informed me, "Jack’s sensory bag exploded!" 

Out I came to the kitchen to double-bag it.

Luke writing letters on his bag.

Why double bag?  Because with all the plumbing issues beginning right after the sensory bag making did, I had overlooked getting out duct tape to seal the bags as I had intended to do.  Then, because the top of Jack’s bag was covered in purple-slime, and I did not have the patience to try to clean and reseal it, I had to come up with some other solution.  Since I didn’t relish transferring its contents to another bag, double bagging seemed the most expedient option.  Thankfully, Jack was happy enough with that.  

Jack's sensory bag "fixed", the children returned to their excited pushing, squishing, and drawing of letters on their sensory bags.  Me?  I returned to the cupboard below the bathroom sink.

"Mom, my bag has a hole!"  Nina called out just as I was reaching an apex of frustration with the sink and toilet.   So, glad for the opportunity to actually fix something, I went to the kitchen.  As I had done with Jack’s bag, I doubled Nina’s, all the while reminding myself to use freezer bags instead of the thinner plastic ones next time I set up a sensory experience like this.

Bags leak-free, the kids returned to their sensory play, enjoying the squishy feel of the bags and the smell of all the body products emanating from them

Me?  I returned to conquer the bathroom plumbing, which I eventually succeeded at. 

To conquer plumbing, that is, and a pile of laundry.  As you might be able to tell from the photos above, I ran out of towels sopping up messes in the bathroom, so diaper stuffers and old burp cloths had to suffice for the kitchen mess.  Wow, did I end up with a lot of laundry.

Some laughs, in retrospect, a few new plumbing skills and a worthwhile sensory activity to repeat with the kids with different colors and product hodge-podge on another day.  Praise God!

Have you incorporated sensory experiences into your Lenten activities this year? 


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