Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WFMW: Happier Children Through Sensory Play

Once again, it is Wednesday, the day in which I pass on a priceless gem of knowledge that "work for me." Like most other great tips, this one is not original, but rather an adaptation of something I learned from other moms. To join in on the tip-giving madness, check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

How do I keep four small children happy all day?

With God's grace and a whole lot of sensory play.

You have probably heard about the benefits of sensory play -- it is calming, organizing, and a really interesting way to discover new things. In our house, sensory play takes many forms. Currently most popular are cooking, pillow crashing, play-do, fingerpaint, shaving cream, and rice.

Lots of rice. In fact, a wading pool of rice located in the corner of our art room. We keep buckets, shovels, egg cartons, empty spice bottles, coffee cans, and (on occasion) pine cones or branches. For added interest we color the rice with food coloring and rubbing alcohol.

Rice play is open-ended. Baby P likes to pour rice into buckets and kick his legs back and forth to make noise. Agent 004 and Cousin F pretend to cook. Agent 002 builds roads with his plastic construction tractors. All four kids would spend the bulk of their day in there if they had the chance, but the room has a door and they are only allowed in with direct adult supervision.

A word of warning: this is a "Works for me Wednesday" tip that may not work for you. If you are a neat freak or if your vacuum cleaner is underpowered, a large sensory pool would probably drive you over the edge. The rice gets everywhere --on the floor, in the kids' hair, and even inside of the baby's diaper. As a result the mess does spread somewhat to other parts of the house. We have decided that the benefit far outweighs the cost, but I thought that it was only fair to warn you of the downside. Remember, however, that even small children can learn how to use a dustpan and broom (see Monday's picture for evidence).

9 comments:

Jenny said...

What a great idea- I'm going to remember that when it gets too hot to play outside! One of my daughter's favorite things to play with is a tray of a 5-bean soup mix and a few measuring cups, so I cant imagine what she'd do with a whole pool full of rice!

happyhousewife said...

Great idea, I did this with puffed rice, the only problem was the baby liked to eat it!

Nichole said...

That's a cool idea! I think I'm going to start with Jenny's tray of beans, though. I don't know if I'm ready for ricediapers.

CC said...

Sensory play is awesome for so many kids! and rice is fun fun fun!! Just a note. Rice and beans will (this is yucky here) often get worms in them after a few months. So you should expect to replace it every few months.

Jennifer said...

that is a great idea! I am always looking for new sensory ideas. Thanks!

Meshellyn said...

At our baby sign language class last night the instructor had a rice tub with toys inside. I joked I'd have to buy a 55 gallon tub so I could just sit my dd in with all of the rice and let her go to town. I love it!

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

My little guy LOVES this, although I haven't gotten brave enough for a whole wading pool yet. You're making me think maybe I should do a little bit more of this kind of thing. It does keep him happy for hours, which is a nice bonus for all of us.

Kate in NJ said...

I wish I had room for one..we use a
cat litter box (never used for any cats )for our sensory stuff.

Michie said...

My daughter loves playing with rice and such things too. I wish I had enough room to have a whole rice pool! What a great mom you are!