The Importance of Playgrounds: Vestibular/ Proprioceptive Activities

Sometimes I think the importance of playgrounds are undervalued. I have often included in my posts photos and information about our trips to playgrounds and it strikes me that some parents may wonder why this is even noteworthy. Yet everything around us can be considered of educational value in some way. Other than the obvious health benefits of this physical exercise, a trip to a playground also has another clear purpose as well as ‘just’ being fun. Playgrounds are highly beneficial for a child with sensory processing disorder (or any child without!) because they provide plenty of opportunities to organise the nervous system, especially through vestibular and proprioceptive input, which helps to integrate and rebalance the senses. In short, it has a calming effect and helps the child to be more focused and ready to learn. A playground is almost like an informal sensory integration therapy session, with the added benefit of being readily available and often entirely free!

 

Personally we love going out alone to quiet playgrounds during school hours for some unrestricted and unhurried therapeutic play. When we meet up with friends at playgrounds it tends to be a very different experience compared to going alone, both beneficial for Squiggle but in different ways. Whilst one provides a lovely social opportunity, she gets less out of those trips in terms of sensory ‘therapy’ because she tends to play differently at playgrounds when with others, rather than spend as much time on the range of equipment. So she particularly enjoys the opportunity to focus on the environment itself sometimes too.

 

greenwood park zip wire 7 oct 14
Zip wire provides vestibular input.
greenwood park tyre swing 7 oct 14
The tyre swing provides a circular movement as well as backwards and forwards motion.
greenwood park swing 7 oct 14
Swinging can be very calming.
greenwood park seesaw 7 oct 14
Squiggle enjoyed walking along the see-saw so she could feel the movement through her whole body.
greenwood park roundabout 7 oct 14
More vestibular input on the roundabout.
greenwood park sensory mud 7 oct 14
Mud is also a fantastic sensory activity.
greenwood park running 7 oct 14
Space to run- up and down hills and over bridges as well as on flat land.
greenwood park climbing frame 7 oct 14
Climbing provides proprioceptive input.
greenwood park tactile maze 7 oct 14
These are lovely tactile activities. Squiggle had far more patience doing these mazes with her finger than she has for paper and pencil ones.
greenwood park different ways of using equipment 7 oct 14
Using the equipment in different ways (climbing over the tunnel and going down the steps like a crab).
greenwood park slide 7 oct 14
Slides are also great sensory input. She enjoyed using them in different ways too.
greenwood park chilling 7 oct 14
Of course taking time to relax is important too!

Living Crafts (Hatfield House, Hertfordshire)

On Friday afternoon we went to Living Crafts held in the beautiful grounds of Hatfield House. This is an annual event, celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year. Most of the workshops, demonstrations and stalls are in large marquees, which means the weather won’t spoil the fun. There was plenty to see (and do) of interest, way too much to list it all in fact! Just a few of our favourites included glass blowing demonstrations, origami workshop, soap carving, decopatch, watching maypole dancers and listening to steel drums. We actually had so much fun that we returned today for another visit, it is a fantastic educational experience and great for all ages too. We look forward to next year’s event already! For further details see www.livingcrafts.co.uk

Here are just a few of the photos…

glassblowing
Squiggle was really interested in the glass blowing demonstration.
glassblowing goblet
They demonstrated various glass blowing techniques and we watched the whole process of making this wine glass.
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Origami
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Squiggle learning origami.
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We will soon be doing some decopatching at home!
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We saw the paper making workshop so Squiggle wants to research more about how to make paper.

 

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Willow weaving.
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Shoe maker, Squiggle found this particularly entertaining.
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Pottery.
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Soap carving
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Squiggle doing some soap carving.
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Spinning.
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Old fashion wool machine.
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Weaving.
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A work in progress.
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Horseshoe dog sculpture.
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Steel drums.
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Squiggle dancing to the music.
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Maypole dancing.
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Living Crafts was a very educational event, we will remember it well!

 

 

Latest Highlights: Our Fortnight in Pictures

These are the highlights of our week fortnight in pictures…

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Playing in the woods with friends
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Whipsnade zoo.
Squiggle particularly enjoyed comparing her hand to an adult foot and elephant foot, driving along the ‘Passage through Asia’ and seeing baby Mara, as well as playing in the outdoor adventure play area ‘Hullabazoo’. She also loved the penguins and of course the sealions. One of the sealions spent much of the time sunbathing, which she found especially fascinating and hilarious. She was also able to view them underwater (for sealion cuddles!) and watched a member of staff carry out their health checks and enrichment activities, which she found both intriguing and entertaining. Later two of the sealions enjoyed playing under the spray of a water hose, which she was also lucky enough to observe.
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Playing at home.
A few of her self- chosen activities recently include making outfits for her toys, drawing and writing, practising her letter formation, reading books to her toy baby, making mosaic pictures and hosting an imaginary bring and share lunch with toys. Lifting and carrying shopping is a fantastic sensory activity!
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Making magnets using plaster in moulds
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Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington has lots of sensory activities.
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Art group/ Meet up and play
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Local park (with friends, just not pictured!)
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Woodside Farm.
Squiggle loved spending time with family members, playing inside and outside, feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs, and seeing other various animals including goats (including a baby kid less than a fortnight old). llamas, lemurs, ducks and geese.
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This begun has Squiggle wanting to make a zip wire for her toys but turned into an excellent learning opportunity when the ribbon she used broke repeatedly because it rubbed against the other ribbon as it moved. This led to a discussion about friction, investigating how much friction different materials produce and then also a discussion about making fire by rubbing sticks together as well. She decided to use the smooth side of a belt to make the zip wire as it would create least friction out of the items she had available.
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Playing in the garden
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Longacres park

Our Week in Pictures

Here is a small snippet of some of last week’s activities…

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Splashing in puddles
Drawing, spelling, reading and writing in a wipe clean book
Drawing, spelling, reading and writing in a wipe clean book
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Woodland walk
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Various activities (see below for more detail)

Activities at home this week included water play (sensory activity), studying a particularly friendly ladybug, discussion about the weather (with myself as well as our cat obviously!), drawing lots of different pictures including a cat character and Igglepiggle (as well as many others), making a decorated model house for her seal, sorting beads and inventing her own target games using a set of foil containers she found in the cupboard. In additon, our egg experiment can be found here. We also met up with friends at a local soft play centre.

Science Experiment: Egg in Vinegar

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Cover the egg in vinegar.
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Cover and leave in the fridge for one week (change vinegar after the first 24 hours)
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Carefully remove the egg from the vinegar.
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Gently wipe off the shell with a tissue.
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I am not entirely sure if this is supposed to happen, especially since it then dripped slightly from this bit. Perhaps we weren’t careful enough. Squiggle said the shell looked and felt like sand as it rubbed off.
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The egg is now quite squishy and rubbery!
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Squiggle enjoyed bouncing it around the table.
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Of course it is still an egg so therefore not entirely indestructible! When it finally broke from all the (over-enthusiastic) bouncing, the shell felt like latex but gritty and was almost whole. Squiggle found this very interesting.

Our Week in Pictures

Here is a snippet of some of this week’s activities…

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Writing
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Art group
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Being creative at home.
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Playdough
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We even found some unexpected educational fun in Asda looking at life cycles. She also got to meet a character, which she loves doing!
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Other activities at home.

Following Interests: Seals

A couple of months ago Squiggle developed a keen interest in seals. Therefore some of her recent learning experiences have been related to seals in some way. Below are some examples of how we have followed this interest in various ways and covered several subjects doing so.

Drama (and imaginative play): Squiggle acted out Christmas day with her seals. (19th November 2013)

Seals acting out Christmas 19.11.13
Seals acting out Christmas 19.11.13

Geography: Her lost seal ‘returned’ from Germany, which sparked a discussion about countries and travelling. We also looked it up on the globe. (26th November 2013)

Seal returns from Germany 26.11.13
Seal returns from Germany 26.11.13

ICT (and research skills): She wanted to know the difference between seal lions and seals, so we researched on the internet (2nd December 2013)

Literacy: She made herself a seal book (2nd December 2013)

'That's Not My Seal' book she made herself 02.12.13
‘That’s Not My Seal’ book she made herself 02.12.13

Maths: She realised Maths Seeds has a walrus in, which is a similar enough to a seal for her liking, so she played this for several hours over the course of a couple of days. (3rd and 4th December 2013)

Using a number line to add and subtract 04.12.13
Using a number line to add and subtract 04.12.13

Design and Technology: She did some baking with her daddy and tried to make the mixture into seal shapes. (15th December 2013)

She tried to make her baking into seal shapes (with daddy) 15.12.13
She tried to make her baking into seal shapes (with daddy) 15.12.13

Maths: She used scales to compare weights of seals, using mathematical language. (25th December 2013)

Comparing weight 25.12.13
Comparing weight 25.12.13

More maths: She also used her toy seals for counting and calculating within her games several times.

Counting and calculating within her game of seals on the bus 27.12.13
Counting and calculating within her game of seals on the bus 27.12.13

We then visited the Sea life Centre in Weymouth to see real seals close up and observe their behaviour. She really loved this, especially as she was able to watch them peacefully for long periods so we spent several hours watching them, over the space of a few days. (13th- 15th January 2014)

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Development is not a race- the joy of seeing fine motor skill progress at her own pace

Here is squiggle’s writing development over the past few months, since she first decided to pick up a pen in order to try to write:

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This was her mark making in February 2013
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This was her ‘writing’ in May 2013
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June 2013- starting to form letters, some correctly. This says ‘book, bus, london’
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‘happy fathers day’ (15th June 2013)
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‘grandad’ (written backwards!) June 2013

And here is her drawing development (see the creative development page for 2011-2012 for comparison)…

milenium wheel drawing 11.03.13
London eye drawing March 2013
map of st albans 08.04.13
This is a map of St Albans she drew in April 2013
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This is her drawing of a person 9th May 2013
drawing of big ben 11.05.13
Big Ben drawn and cut out independently May 2013
drawing 06.06.13
London eye and a london bus June 2013
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London bus with a funny face drawn in late June 2013
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People in a garden looking at flowers June 2013
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Crocodile June 2013
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Observation drawing from a book 25th June 2013
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Funfair wheel 9th July 2013 (the circles in the middle are the cogs she noticed while riding on it)
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A very busy paddling pool! July 2013
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She copied the picture her dad had drawn for her and then added her own ideas to. July 2013
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Pigs on a swing 10th July 2013