We have been to various fetes, fun days and dog shows this year. We really enjoy going to these events, not only as a fun family day out, but because they are educational and excellent social opportunities too.
For example, dog shows might seem like an odd place to hang out if (like us) you are not a dog owner but we find they are a brilliant way for Squiggle to initiate social interactions in a relaxed, spontaneous situation. She loves dogs but she knows not to stroke them without first checking with the owner, so she has been learning to judge the situation to decide if it seems a sensible time, then asks the owner’s permission before petting the dog. She sometimes then chats to the owner further, asking questions such as the name of the dog, breed, age etc… Great for building her confidence!
Oaklands Summer Fete in July had a huge range of activities and events going on. This one was a big hit!
St Albans Country Show relocated at the last minute from Aldenham to Highfield Park. This was another lovely event with plenty to do.
These events also inspire her, capture her imagination, bring out her creativeness and motivate her to write. Her are some of the activities she has chosen to do at home after our days out…
Squiggle designed her own dog activity worksheets.
Today Squiggle and I spent the majority of the day building an ‘Eco- Energy City’. It was such an interesting project and sparked lots of educational discussion, such as renewable energy sources, transfer of energy and different ways energy is used. She was really focused throughout and loved the finished product too- a big thumbs up from us!
These are some of the things we have been doing so far this month…
In addition to these activities, we also practised estimating (time mainly) and discussed the difference between a guess and an estimate. We have also played a game several times that she invented whereby we try to recall what we were doing x number of days ago. This proved to be a fun memory game and we enjoyed talking about past events, as well as doing the maths to work out how many weeks, months and sometimes years ago the day was. I also discovered she didn’t know what a typewriter was when she found a miniature toy one (then again, why would she know!) So we discussed technology and how it has progressed, which she found very interesting.
We love Kensington Gardens for a wander around the park and a play at Princess Diana Memorial Playground. This is a favourite of ours as it is a lovely natural playground with lots of sensory input opportunities. And it has wooden boats to play on, as well as a huge pirate ship! Squiggle is very interested in boats at the moment so she was particularly excited on this visit…
Here are our pictures from our visit last month too…
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.
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.