Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Summer Sensory Diet Series: Kerplink-Kerplunk for Sensory Summer Fun

So far in our Summer Sensory Diet Series, we have shared:

Today, I want to spotlight a classic activity that we enjoy whenever we are at a shoreline which offers Auditory, Visual, Proprioceptive, Gross Motor, Fine Motor and a touch of Gustatory Fun:

Got a bucket or heavy-duty? How about some crunchy snacks? Then, you are all set for this simple, but kid-proven activity.

Head to your nearest shoreline. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the ocean, near a pond, along a river or even just a mock-one made from a kiddie pool in your yard.
Once there, hand out buckets or shopping bags and ask everyone to fill them with as many different sizes, shapes and colors of rocks as they can.
What an arm!
Finally, gather at the waterline, make sure there’s no one in the water in front of you and start tossing the collected rocks in– one at a time.  As you do, listen carefully.  Do they “kerplink” (make a light splashing sound) or “kerplunk” (make a heavy splashing sound)?
When arms start getting tired, pull out some crunchy snacks for a break and a bit of oral-motor/gustatory stimulation. (As always, think salty, sweet, tangy, spicy and/or chewy when packing snacks, with heavy emphasis on the crunchy for this activity, since crunchy foods tend to fare better if accidentally dropped in sand or water.)  Then, get back to the rock tossing.

Looking Through Your SPD Lenses

Listening for the sound of the rocks as they splash into the water, of course provides auditory stimulation. Try closing your eyes as you throw to really help you focus on the “kerplink” as versus “kerplunk” sounds for auditory discrimination practice. And, while you’re tuned in, enjoy noting all the other sounds at the shoreline – bird calls, breezes, laughter, etc

Searching the shore for different sizes, shapes and colors of rocks offers visual stimulation. And, if you’re prone to over-stimulation, shades and/or a wide brimmed beach hat can help!

Rock-Hauling Muscles
Carrying the heavy rocks, as well as throwing them into the water works the proprioceptive sense. Try throwing the rocks underhand, overhand, like a fastball pitcher, with two hands, through the legs, and so on to ensure even more muscles and joints get used!
And, of course, the walking and throwing work the gross motor muscles, while the picking up of rocks works the fine motor ones.

Noting the flavors of snacks, not to mention tasting the sensation of sprayed sea or fresh water, offers some gustatory stimulation.


(1) Try to predict which rocks will make a “kerplink” sound and which will make a “kerplunk” sound before tossing them in. Test if the size or shape of rocks makes a difference. How about the way in which they are thrown?

(2) In addition to rocks, collect different natural objects to throw into the water – twigs, sea glass, stones, pebbles, sand... Which ones make what kind of sounds? Do some sink and some float? Experiment and get some extra tactile sensations going as each type of object is grasped to be tossed in.

(3) Make a rain storm by first throwing a few rocks in quick succession, or all at once, and then throwing a big handful or rocks or sand. Try to simulate the start of a storm, a driving rain shower, a mere pitter patter, etc.

(4) Have contests to see who can throw rocks the farthest, make the biggest splash, disturb the surface of the water the least, skip rocks, etc.

(5) Try splashing rocks into the water without using your hands. Balance one on an elbow or knee and jerk that body part away. Hold one under your chin, walk into the water and let it drop. Try to hip check one into the water. (Just be extra careful to give everyone space when experimenting like this, so no rock goes astray, injuring a bystander!)
Onto sandcastle time...
As always, make enjoyment the key aim of this activity.  If it leads to a new exploration, let it.  Follow your child’s interests wherever the activity leads.  Keep your SPD Lenses on and offer gentle suggestions of make pointed challenges in order to make any activity even more nourishing to your child’s sensory system.
We’d love to hear about your favorite sensory-based shoreline activities.  Please share!  And, stay tuned soon for the next part of the series, when we’ll be sharing an idea for your back yard!


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