Autumn Trip to Butterfly World

As the opening season of Butterfly World (www.butterflyworldproject.com) comes to an end, we took the opportunity for a final visit on this sunny autumn afternoon…

 

Exploring the designer gardens.
Exploring the designer gardens.
Squiggle likes the feel of these leaves.
Squiggle likes the feel of these leaves.
Giant plant pot. Imagine being the size of an insect in the garden!
Giant plant pot. Imagine being the size of an insect in the garden!
Lovely walk in the gorgeous Autumn sunshine.
Lovely walk in the gorgeous Autumn sunshine.
PE in natural surroundings.
PE in natural surroundings.
The butterfly house.
The butterfly house.

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You can also find my previous post here.

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!

Agility Practice

Squiggle really enjoyed the opportunity to watch dog agility at a local fete yesterday. She then had fun doing her own agility practice on the inflatable obstacle course and the agility course that were also at the fete. Today she had fun in the garden with her dad acting out the dog agility race with plastic toy dogs and some garden equipment.

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Squiggle watching the dog agility races.
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She then went on the inflatable obstacle course and pretended to be a dog doing agility practice.
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Squiggle doing an agility course.
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Acting out dog agility races in the garden with plastic toy dogs.

 

Wipe Clean Books

I must admit I am not a huge fan of the concept of wipe clean books, in my opinion they are too prescriptive and therefore have the potential to be very restrictive, limiting the child’s creative thinking, and have limited appeal. To be honest, I fully expected the novelty of them to be very short-lived.

However, they have actually proven to be quite the opposite in our experience at home. Squiggle finds unique and interesting ways to interact with them, coming up with ideas that, to be perfectly honest, I never could have imagined. They reveal her creative side and imagination beautifully and show off her wonderful ability to really think outside the box.

She has spent entire days recently making up stories about the characters from the books, combining a range of media to do so. Here is just one example of this…

Note: this is not the whole story, the actual version went on for several days!

She decided to draw the characters from the wipe clean book having a birthday party.
She decided to draw the characters from the wipe clean book having a birthday party.
The rabbit character from the wipe clean book opened a present. It was a mosaic activity.
The rabbit character from the wipe clean book opened a present. It was a mosaic activity.
She then drew a picture of them singing happy birthday.
She then drew a picture of them singing happy birthday.

Next she drew the same characters having the party buffet then watching fireworks.
Next she drew the same characters having the party buffet then watching fireworks.

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The next day they went to the beach.

The cuddly toy version of the rabbit character in the wipe clean book also became part of the game.
The cuddly toy version of the rabbit character in the wipe clean book also became part of the game.
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“They went to the funfair at night, before going to bed.”
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She wrote the names of all of the characters.

As well as doing detailed storytelling, drawing illustrations and role-playing inspired by these books, she also enjoys using them in other ways…

She enjoys writing her own ideas in the book.
She enjoys writing her own ideas in the book.
Completing the wordseach (upside down to make it more challenging!)
Completing the word search (upside down to make it more challenging!)
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Practising letter formation

Tissue Paper Flowers

Squiggle got a giant paper flower making kit for her birthday from her nan. It is a simple technique, she was able to do it fairly independently, but quite effective. It could be done easily enough with any sheets of tissue paper and pipe cleaners, the kit is not really a necessity but it was a fun activity (and a lovely present!) nonetheless.

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Choose 5 or 6 sheets of tissue paper. Cut the edges into a selection of zigzags, tassels or curves (as per picture)
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Stack the pile of paper neatly then fold it concertina style.
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Twist a pipe cleaner around the middle of the folded tissue paper.
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Fluff out the flower one layer at a time.

 

Here is the video of it from Alex Toys…

 

 

Our Week in Pictures: Water Play

Water play is therapeutic and relaxing for Squiggle but it is so much more fun when it’s outdoors and on a large scale, so there is nothing like sunshine to brighten her mood, just for that reason alone!

 

 

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Decopatch

Squiggle saw Decopatch at Living Crafts and was very interested in the technique. Therefore she was bought some Decopatch for her birthday (she got a starter kit from us and then got some more lovely items to decopatch from a very kind friend too). Here she is hard at work (and thoroughly enjoying it)…

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Our Week in Pictures

Here are some of our adventures this week….

Greenwood park
Greenwood park
Southend beach
Southend beach
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Squiggle made our pet cat a ‘pouch’ then set up a treasure hunt around the house so he could follow the picture clues (with her help of course!) to find the prize at the end.
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Painting in the garden
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Balancing in the garden
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Designing her own clothes
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Playing at Grandad’s house
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Fun at soft play

Embracing Unexpected Learning Opportunities

This morning Squiggle was awoken by the sound of a loud noise coming from outside. She was clearly anxious but I reassured her it was nothing to worry about and went to investigate so I could tell her more about it. It turned out our neighbours were having their trees cut back by some professional tree cutters. I realised this was something we could either try not to ignore, whilst Squiggle got more and more distressed by the noise, or I could see what I could do to turn it into a positive experience for her. So I excitedly called her to the window and enthusiastically explained what they were doing, then invited her to watch for as long as she wanted. Thankfully, this successfully turned it around and not only relieved her anxiety about the unexpected noise disruption but it sparked lots of interest and discussion about nature, uses for wood and recycling, then led to some lovely role-play with her toys too. It was great how something she was initially ‘on edge’ about and therefore could have caused alot of stress, ended up being a really positive learning experience.

 

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Lowering down a large log with their rope pulley.
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Chopping the logs using chainsaws
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The wood chipper
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Squiggle role playing using her toys
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She enjoyed recreating the events she observed

Easter at Mead Open Farm

Having always found Mead Open Farm to be relatively quiet, even at weekends and holidays, and having found Willows somewhat less crowded than we had expected last weekend (previously we have always found Willows to be the busier of these two farms), we found we were in for a HUGE shock when we arrived at Mead Open Farm this afternoon. The car park was literally covering most of a massive field, one that we had never even experienced the need to ever use for parking on any previous visit, it looked PACKED. Caught in the unenviable position of choosing a meltdown over change of plans or meltdown from over-stimulation we decided the latter was preferable and proceeded as planned.

 

Luckily we had not been here during their Easter event specifically before so Squiggle held absolutely no expectation as to what it might be like, which did make the unexpected volume of people abit easier to manage. We decided to totally ignore the schedule of events and go with the flow, but we did manage to find the Easter Bunny for a cuddle and wandered over to the marquee to do an Easter hunt, which Squiggle really enjoyed. I did have a look at the schedule of activities earlier this evening, after we got home, and there seemed to be some nice Easter activities going on (more real animal encounter type activities than Willows but less in the way of shows) although I think at least some of the activities are regular ones, not exclusively for Easter, so I don’t feel we missed out on much.

 

The new natural play area has just opened so was very popular, both with Squiggle and clearly also with the majority of other children there today too. It has a great selection of equipment and is well designed to cater for a range of ages. Squiggle was happy she got to play for a while and was clearly very impressed with it but it was much too busy for her to fully make the most of it. We look forward to returning soon in term time though for a quieter play, as it is certainly worth revisiting.

 

Here are some photos of today…

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Easter bunny

 

The aim of the Easter hunt was to find 5 letters hidden in ‘Hoppy’s Hamlet’ and work out what Easter-related word they make (which Squiggle worked out independently) to claim a prize (a chocolate bunny lolly)…

Easter Hunt
Easter Hunt

 

The brand new natural play area…

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New play area
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New play area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few of the animals we saw today…

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Feeding sheep
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Lambs
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Baby bunnies

 

All things considered we are glad we went, it was worth the crowds for, and Squiggle had an absolutely wonderful time. A good Easter day out!

 

For more information about Mead Open Farm in general (although I have noticed that they don’t detail event schedules/ specific timings of activities on their website, which is a shame) see their website www.meadopenfarm.co.uk