Waterside Walks

Squiggle is very interested in different types of boats at the moment so we have been enjoying waterside walks in various locations. Here are a couple of the latest visits…

lee valley river 25 oct 14
Lee Valley riverside walk

 

Apsley Marina (21st October 2014)
Apsley Marina (21st October 2014)

Stanborough Lakes, Hertfordshire

We had an interesting and peaceful walk around Stanborough lakes, inspired by Squiggle’s current boat interest…

Squiggle enjoyed seeing and discussing the different types of boats.
Squiggle enjoyed seeing and discussing the different types of boats.
Bridges and waterfalls.
Bridges and waterfalls.
We had a relaxing walk around the lake.
We had a relaxing walk around the lake.
The wildlife.
The wildlife.
The south lake. Various watersports are held here.
The south lake. Various watersports are held here.
The North lake. This is one of my favourite photographs from this visit. The way the water came out in the photo is so interesting, it reminds me of a painting.
The north lake. This is one of my favourite photographs from the visit. I love how the photo has captured the beauty of the water, it reminds me of a painting.
My other favourite photo of the day.
My other favourite photo of the day.

Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire

River
River
Mini waterfall
Mini waterfall
Canal
Canal
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Autumn at Cassiobury park

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!

Our Week in Pictures

sylvanian skiing aug 14
Imaginative play- skiing
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Face painting Fluffy. She sounded out ‘flufe’
garden balancing aug 14
Balancing on the logs with Gingerbread, our cat.
pick your own in garden aug 14
Picking fruit from our garden, lots of blackberries and a few apples too.
person collage aug 14
Collage person.
art group aug 14
Art group, using different tools for painting.
connect four models aug 14
Using connect four counters to make models. She made a 2D dog and a plane, plus a well balanced 3D tower.
designing parachutes and exploring gravity aug 14
Learning about gravity and designing parachutes for her seals. She compared which fell fastest and we talked about why. She then modified her design several times to try to improve it’s effectiveness.
acting out park aug 14
Design and technology, plus imaginative play. She built a park out of duplo for some of her toys. She also designed and made paper clothes for them to wear.
paradise park aug 14
Paradise Wildlife Park
erinne party blog photos aug 14
A friend’s birthday party.

Highfield, St Albans

We had a lovely time in Highfield, St Albans for a few hours this afternoon. We know this part of St Albans very well as we used to live there so we enjoy just generally wandering around the area. Highfield Park itself has lots of open space and a tree trail, details of which can be downloaded here A60148_Highfield_Park_Leaflet_P5. There are several small toddler play areas dotted around, mostly tucked away in quiet corners of the residential streets. The Trestle Arts Base and Charters Health Club are also situated in Highfield, both of these venues have various classes and activities for children and adults alike. We have many happy memories from community events that have been held in various locations within Highfield over the years, such as Larks in the Parks and an Olympic Themed Fun day to celebrate 2012, as well as various other fundraisers and of course the annual Highfield fete. There are also regular Health Walks that happen here too. More information about Highfield Park, including information on various events and activities that occur throughout the year, can be found on their website www.highfieldparktrust.co.uk

 

Balancing
This play area is on Russet Drive, opposite the main entrance to Highfield Park itself.
Squiggle enjoyed collected pine cones in this play area.
Squiggle enjoyed collected pine cones and playing in the ‘maze’ (as she calls it) in this play area.
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Quick stop off on the way past during our walk.
This play area is across the road from Highfield Park.
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Squiggle enjoyed ‘exploring’ to find this one furthest away, down one of the residential streets at the other end of Highfield.

 

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.
agility course 12.07.14
Squiggle doing an agility course.
acting out dog agility 2014
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.
SAMSUNG
“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

Haven: Allhallows, Kent

We spent a couple of days at Allhallows in Kent. Our favourite things about this site were the direct access to the beach, helpful staff, lovely play area and nice pool. I do think the layout could be improved- for a child with sensory processing difficulties it was very overstimulating to have to keep walking right through the arcade and restaurant to get to the outside play area and it was a shame that the soft play is not sectioned off abit too rather than in the centre of the noisy arcade. The entertainment venue felt abit cramped, it needs to be abit bigger or designed better to give a more spacious feel. Overall though we enjoyed our stay and would happily return.

haven beach july 2014
Beach (direct access from site)

 

Drawings in the sand
Drawings in the sand

 

haven play area july 2014
Onsite playground

 

haven characters 2014
Dancing along at the disco and meeting Bradley bear and Anxious elephant from ‘The Seaside Squad’.

 

 

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…