Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sensory Activity #1...for now! Painting in a Baggie

I must admit that I absolutely love my time away from the classroom, but I still spend a great deal of time working on "school stuff"!  I LOVE spending time creating NEW things to do in the classroom; new activities, new organizational forms, new STUFF!  

No sooner had I placed the Christmas dinner dishes back in the cabinets, stowed the leftovers away in the fridge and sat down to unwind, then I began to drift to "school thinking"!  You didn't?  Well, I DO have this whole week off, so I'll have plenty of time to relax!

So, here's where my mind went:  One of my new goals for the classroom in 2011 is to involve the children in more sensory activities.  This, I must tell you, will be THE challenge of all challenges!  All of the children in my classroom have at least some level of difficulty with eating, sensory processing disorder or general texture avoidance.  For children with sensory processing disorder, touching...or even looking at certain textures can be a huge challenge. 

In my classroom we never ask a child to touch a texture or item they are resistant to touching without a great deal of advance preparation and direct work and consultation with our occupational therapist.  We try to provide lots of fun ways to gain new experiences; whether through texture books, exploring whole foods, experiencing new smells or tolerating touching new items.  We help children slowly desensitize to the texture or item by providing very brief times to touch (or simply allow a food or texture item to be near them).  We work with the child at the point they are at.  This means that if they can tolerate only a brief second of touching or being near a certain texture or item we start here and then slowly move slightly beyond this until they are able to tolerate more exposure to the item.  The idea is always to create the most positive experience possible for the child. 

We have made HUGE progress in my classroom!  I mean HUGE...but we can make more!  After some brainstorming, I have decided to start by introducing painting in a "baggie".  I think, for the children, it may be a bit more acceptable.  I used to use baggie painting and "feely  bags" when I taught the 2 year old classroom, but have gotten away from using them with my current classroom.  Hmmm....we shall see how this works! 

Of course, this is not brain surgery here! The idea of painting in a bag is a simple and well known idea! I just sometimes forget to use some of those simple ideas and occasionally keep trying to jump past the point we're REALLY at! When I spend time at home re-working ideas for the classroom, I often end up really just "pruning" what we are already doing! For the children in my classroom, often less is more. Basically, this is what happened here...I worked backwards!

So, we'll begin with painting in a baggie...and move on from here. Here's the basic "recipe" but of course you could add other things to the bag to create more visual appeal. We'll begin by exploring this in early January, as soon as we're back from winter break. I'll let you know (within the first 2 seconds of this activity) how this works out in my classroom!               
                        Painting in a Baggie

                           *Ziploc baggies
                           *Karo corn syrup
                           *Glitter, sequins etc. or other visual additions
                           *Food coloring
                            *Duct tape

Pour Karo corn syrup and a few drops of food coloring into a Ziploc baggie.  Add glitter and sequins as desired (children may want to assist with this).  Seal baggie with duct tape. 

Children can then explore the texture through the baggie.  Children can also explore pre-writing strokes on the baggie (vertical, horizontal or circular lines) as well as making letters or shapes.

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