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
2014-08-03 14.55.59
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.

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.

image
Squiggle watching the dog agility races.
image
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.

 

Sapphire Gymnastics (Hemel Hempstead, Herts)

A couple of weeks ago we held a home education group at Sapphire gymnastics in Hemel Hempstead for the second time. It has a good variety of equipment to cater for a range of ages; facilities include balancing equipment, ropes, bars and rings, spring board and box, trampoline, soft play and bouncy castle. There are two sites, we have not been to the new Mark Road site yet but the pictures look very impressive so we are keen to visit this one sometime too. The following photos are of our home ed group held at the original Park Road site next to the sports centre. For more information see Sapphire Gymnastics website www.sapphiregymnastics.co.uk

 

wpid-20140323_144002.jpg
Balancing
wpid-20140323_140312.jpg
Balance beams
wpid-20140323_142143.jpg
Trampolining
wpid-img_20140330_214442.jpg
Swinging on ropes
wpid-img_20140330_214629.jpg
Bars
wpid-20140323_144355.jpg
Bouncy castle slide
wpid-20140323_144024.jpg
Soft play

wpid-20140323_144127.jpg
Fun at Sapphire Gymnastics
https://livinglifeourway.files.wordpress.com/

Latest Highlights: Our Fortnight in Pictures

These are the highlights of our week fortnight in pictures…

image
Playing in the woods with friends
image
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.
image
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!
image
Making magnets using plaster in moulds
image
Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington has lots of sensory activities.
image
Art group/ Meet up and play
image
Local park (with friends, just not pictured!)
image
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.
image
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.
image
Playing in the garden
image
Longacres park

A Typical Week in Home Education?

In reality there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ week for us, we are interest-led and we tend to go with the flow as we feel this suits our needs as a family. The freedom to do this is one of the many reasons we love home educating. I will share more of our personal educational philosophy sometime but that is really a separate subject so I will leave it for now. However, this post aims to give a flavour of the type of thing we might find ourselves doing and a rough gist of what our week might look like. So here is a brief summary of our week:

Saturday

In the morning Squiggle played outside in the garden with her dad. She also picked some blackberries then helped to clean and feed our rabbits. After this we decided to head to the seaside at Southend for the rest of the day.

southend 21.09 (3)
Playing on the beach
southend 21.09 (5)
Collecting seaweed
southend 21.09 (7)
Paddling in the sea

Sunday

We spent some the day at home then decided to pop to Milton Keynes shopping centre for a little while (where she particularly enjoyed the caravan show and studying the inside of a working clock)

model plane 21.09.13
This is the model plane she made at home

Monday

We went to London Zoo for the day.

London zoo 23.09 (2)
We enjoyed seeing the star fishes and seahorses in the aquarium
London zoo 23.09 (12)
Iguana in the reptile house
London zoo 23.09 (25)
The gorilla striking a pose!
London zoo 23.09 (53)
Petting farm
London zoo 23.09 (54)
Squiggle spent a long time playing in the water fountains with an acorn. She had fun designing a science experiment to see which fountains could hold the acorn up in the water. She did lots of investigating how easily the acorn moved in the little stream as well.

Tuesday

We played at home for a while (self- directed learning) then we decided to go to Paradise Park for the rest of the day.

recognising coins 24.09 (2)
She decided she wanted to play with some coins that had been left on the table so this led to learning to recognise and sort different coins. We also had a discussion on the value of things.
Paradise park 24.09 (3)
Watching how the otters behave
Paradise park 24.09 (4)
We enjoyed watching the white tiger take a bath

Wednesday

We had planned to go to a local park to meet up with some friends in the morning then we also went to Leighton Buzzard park in the afternoon.

fleetville park 25.09 (5)
Fleetville park
leighton buzzard park 25.09 (21)
Counting the shapes then setting the dial to the correct number
leighton buzzard park 25.09 (8)
Developing her climbing skills and confidence
leighton buzzard park 25.09 (11)
These stepping stones wobble to make this more challenging.
leighton buzzard park 25.09 (20)
Balancing skills

Thursday

We stayed at home today so I produced a hidden parcel that had arrived recently, which she was very excited about. It was a zip wire for her hex bugs! This of course inspired her to play with these for sometime, including lots of exploration and discussion about how they work. Activities she later chose included playing Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds on the laptop.

hexbugs 26.09
Hexbugs
maths seeds 24.09 (2)
Maths seeds

Friday

Most of our day was spent at the scout hut for art group then ‘meet up and play’.

art group 13.09 (10)
Exploring clay at art group
art group 27.09.13
Doing scratch art