Feeling a bit like ‘Bear Grills’ but armed with a visual timetable and taking a lot of deep breaths! We have ‘survived’ the first week of the holidays, (or ‘winged’ it!)
We haven’t been very blessed with the weather this week (typical start!) And we’ve had to do a lot of indoor activities as both my girls are outdoor fans! We had planned to get out for walks and the park, especially to burn off energy but sadly, struggled.
Keeping our fingers crossed for better weather next week!
On Monday we established some house and outdoor visit ‘House Rules,’ where I sat with Lou and she helped to come up with some rules such as “we are safe inside,” and used the example of when she launches herself off the furniture!
If there is screaming at the top of her lungs (there has been a fair amount this week!) We refer back to the rules which she helped to create, I find that Lou does like rules and boundaries and the fact she helped to create them has given her back some of the control that she thrives on.
Every morning Lou has arranged her visual timetable with what is happening each day, this has reduced some of the element of uncertainty and we refer back to it if she is getting anxious about what is happening next.
The activities we have done this week were:
1. Sensory Dough – we added some drops of Lavender oil to the ingredients, Lavender has been used in our house in the past few weeks in the form of burning oils and room spray as it has had a calming effect on both girls, especially Lou. I realise I had run out of blue or pink colourings to make the dough purple so we added orange instead!
2. Rainbow Cookies – Lou loves the sensory element of cooking and used her rolling and cutting skills to make the cookie shapes, they came out quite big!
3. Free-choice craft and ‘Shopkins Shaker Maker.’ Lou loves a bit of craft, I’ve always found it calming for her and her concentration improves, she thoroughly enjoyed painting her ‘Shopkins’ figures that she made from a ‘shaker maker’ kit she had for her birthday. Lou also enjoys selecting her own craft materials from our craft box and creating something of her own choice.
We made it!!! I can’t believe the end of the summer holidays is here! We have managed a lot of sensory and craft activities and it’s kept Lou going, along with some play dates, trips out, parties and weekly sessions at the SMILE therapy centre in Malvern. As with any plans, we didn’t achieve everything and had to alter things here and there depending on the weather and availability of materials. But I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.
1. Family time.
On bank holiday Monday we had a family barbecue and Lou received a watch ready for starting school. Lou has been fascinated with time for a while now and she’s picking it up really well. It helps her to understand things like “when the hand gets to the 6 it’s time to…”
The girls also received a play kitchen as a gift. Playing ‘shops’ has been a favourite for a while now, this kept them occupied for hours!
2. Last play therapy session of these holidays.
On Tuesday Lou had her weekly session at the SMILE Centre in Malvern. We were lucky that it was a beautiful day and we were able to visit the park opposite the centre. The girls were so happy to see that there were baby ducklings! We absolutely love Malvern, it’s one of my all time favourite places, I hope to take the girls up the Malvern Hills when they are a bit older.
This week’s SMILE session was for Lou to make her own scones. I was amazed that the recipe that the staff had found used lemonade and double cream with self-raising flour to create the scones, which I’d never heard of before! Lou was able to feel the textures of all the ingredients and absolutely loved mixing it all together with her hands, the mixture foamed up once the lemonade was added! Lou got the chance to try Lemonade for the first time but she wasn’t keen as she said: “the bubbles are getting in my face!”
The scones were baked and we got to taste them and took loads home! It’s amazing how we couldn’t tell the difference with using these ingredients to the usual way we’ve made scones with butter!
Wow what a busy week! We were hardly at home this week which meant that we hardly touched on any planned activities for craft and sensory play, but we were so lucky with the weather that time was spent at parks, friends’ houses and trips out.
1. Cous Cous sensory play.
I am always looking for more materials for sensory play, we’ve never tried Cous Cous before but Lou loved exploring this, “it’s like sand mummy” She observed. And then also explored what happened when adding a bit of water: “Now it’s slimy!”
2. Good old cut and stick.
Lou has always taken a great interest in catalogues! I remember when I was younger, myself and my younger sister would cut up old catalogues and stick the items we like onto paper, Lou really enjoyed this and has been waiting to get her hands on the scissors for a while now!
3. Our day out at ‘All Things Wild,’ Honeybourne, Worcestershire.
We love this place! We’ve visited ‘All Things Wild’ a few times since Lou was 2, there’s a bit of everything. We found that there are some new additions to the park such as a large climbing frame with a twisty slide that Lou just loved. Moo really enjoyed watching the Guinea Pigs, Prairie Dogs and rabbits, they were on her level and had domes to put your head in right up close to the animals. Another favourite were the Meerkats and Porcupines. We travelled on the Dinosaur train this time and enjoyed walking around the Dinosaur structures even though it was raining! There were new Digger pits and a sandpit where the children had to uncover Dinosaur bones.
We were lucky with the weather in the afternoon but Lou and Moo enjoyed the many indoor activities on offer, which is great if the weather is bad. Such as soft play, play tractors, and reptile house. There is also a great indoor sand pit room but we didn’t manage get in there this time as we were so busy!
We hope to visit again in October half term.
I cannot believe that were in our last week of the holidays! There’s going to be a bit of preparation this week for Lou starting school, but hopefully also time for more fun!
We haven’t got a lot of craft done this week, we’ve been busy with appointments, parties, play dates and park visits! It was lovely this week to catch up with people we haven’t seen since the schools broke up, Lou was desperate to spend time some time with her friends, she’s done so incredibly well over the last 4 weeks, out of routine and the structure that an education setting provides, but I felt a bit of “I’m bored with you now mummy” this week! I can’t believe we’ve already done 4 weeks, I think the last 2 weeks will surely fly by!
Activities this week:
1. ‘Cloud Dough’
I’ve been wanting to try this out with Lou for a while now, I used to make it for the children I worked with in the nursery. We used baby oil and plain flour to make a very soft consistency, you can use food colouring but we left it plain. We did this outside with a tray as it does create quite a lot of mess! Lou loved the way she could create shape moulds with the dough she said “it’s like my motion sand!” 2. Sensory play dough
I made play dough using our normal recipe of:
2 cups plain flour
2 cups salt
2 cups water
2 table spoons of oil
2 tea spoons of Cream of Tartar
In the past I’ve then added to the microwave but I’ve found that adding boiling water works just as well.
I coloured the dough pink with food colouring and added Cinnamon. Lou liked smelling the dough and creating her own cupcakes.
3. Glittery Foam
Lou requested to have foam outside so I used shaving foam and to add an extra touch, glitter. She absolutely loved getting it on her hands!
4. Spaghetti, pasta and rice play.
I am hoping to buy a ‘Tuff Spot’ or ‘Builder’s tray’ for sensory/messy play purposes. But for now I used an old under the bed storage box to put some rice, pasta and spaghetti in, both girls immediately wanted to get inside to sit amongst the materials! They used tea set items to transfer the rice, etc. Moo wanted to eat the pasta!
5. Nature shot of the week
There was excitement on Thursday evening when a hot air balloon went straight over our house and landed only a few fields away!
6. Baking ~ Cupcakes
We made some cupcakes for Lou’s friends’ joint 3rd and 4th party. It’s strange how Lou just wants the icing off the cake – yet I gave her a bit of icing and sprinkles in a bowl and she said “I don’t want this mummy!”
This week was a big one for me, some very positive steps forward in terms of my Blogging:
I was asked by a local children’s centre to help run a group for parents that have children with additional needs, I will update more on this as I find out more.
I was approached by the charity Family Fund, who I write posts for, if they could use one of my photos in their marketing materials 🙂 this was the first time that I’ve received recognition for my photography. I now hope to pursue this and get a better camera than just taking pictures on my smart phone!
We’re now looking forward to week 5 🙂 Where I’ll be labelling lots of school uniform and thinking about the complicated task of school shoes!
Thanks for reading 🙂
This week we have been very busy, we haven’t got as many craft or sensory activities completed as last week as we’ve done more organised activities and play dates at the park. The weather has been slightly better than last week so we’ve also spent more time outside.
Cardboard layer heart.
Our main craft activity was creating this cardboard hanging heart. I cut out 3 different sized hearts and Lou pained them in colours of her choice. We let them dry and then stuck the hearts together, and made a hole to thread some patterned ribbon. Lou has requested that she hangs this up in her bedroom.
This was such a popular activity this week. Lou played with this dough every day and it smelt lovely, being scented with vanilla essence! Lou made this dough herself during a session at the SMILE Centre, Malvern.
A social story was used as a recipe guide, using symbols as well as the actual words. The ingredients used were:
– 2 cups of plain flour.
– Half a cup of salt.
– 2 tablespoons of Cream of Tartar.
– 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
– Food colouring.
– Essence – this time was vanilla.
– 1 cup of boiling water.
Mix all ingredients together until they become a dough ball.
Time at the park.
We enjoyed going to our local park and another in a nearby village. The girls met up with some friends which benefitted them greatly as they’ve both missed the company of other children, especially Lou as she’s been used to interacting with other children at Pre School.
This was a set activity I’d arranged for Lou to take part in. Where she made mini pasties. This was a great activity for Lou to explore all of her senses. I’ll be writing more details on this particularly activity in a Blog post on its own.
‘Mess Around’ session.
This has to be the highlight of our whole week! Another set activity that was booked in advance online. The girls arrived to a village hall full of messy play activities, including coloured rice and spaghetti, water beads and gloop. This was the most beneficial session for Lou – my sensory seeker. I’ll be writing an individual Blog post about this session.
We look forward to reporting back about how our week 3 goes.
I have finally got around to finishing my 2 plans for activities to do with Lou over the next 6 weeks of the summer holidays. Lou is the type of child that requires constant stimulation, she thrives whilst doing craft activities and we’ve already seen the positive effects a ‘Sensory Diet’ has on her. I have always been a planner, I need to have everything written out in front of me to focus and ensure that I have the appropriate resources available for the activities. This need for planning comes from being in the childcare profession for the past 12 years, and it never really leaves!
I’ve written a lot of research posts recently, sometimes this blows my mind, but it’s so helpful in my quest to try and understand my child’s behaviour more and why she does what she does! This post is more of a ‘what’s on my mind’ post, and there’s always a lot on my mind!
The summer holidays will soon be upon us, it feels like I’ve blinked and missed the past few months, When i was working in education I remember that feeling of elation that the end if term was nearing, knowing that you’d given your absolute all during the term and this was rewarded often with a meal, several drinks and socialising with chilled out colleagues! When I returned to work after having Lou we explored everywhere possible during the holidays, we went to parks, visiting friends and relatives and walked for miles with Lou enjoying the scenery of the countryside from the comfort of her pushchair. The last summer holidays in 2015 was the first time that Lou had experienced ending Pre School and not returning for 6 weeks. We lived in an upper floor flat on a new build estate with a park that wasn’t completed. We had to walk for about 30 mins until we reached a park or a shop, with Lou saying “my legs hurt” which since I recently found out she has hypermobile joints, does make me feel very guilty. The times we were inside the flat Lou would get frustrated and would throw any item she could get her hands on, which she is currently repeating at the moment. Even though she now has full access to a garden! I remember that feeling of absolute desperation, of trying to interact with Lou, setting up activities but she wasn’t interested in spending time with me, she wanted other children and was craving the routine that pre school provided.
Around June time in the back if my mind I started to get anxious about the impending holidays as I’ll do anything I can to avoid a repeat performance of last year’s holidays.I often feel guilty about the fact that I don’t drive, I wonder if I took the children out further afield if this would reduce some of the stresses, I’ve tried lessons a few times since having an accident at 17, but it just petrifies me, I just don’t feel safe as I go into a trance like state when panic takes over behind the wheel, I don’t feel that it’s me controlling the car, and it’s very scary. I would also worry about distractions if Lou wasnt coping in the car. I’d love to be able to take my girls here there and anywhere but I also have to keep in mind that as I’m not currently working and we’re a one income family for the time being, and we’re busy saving for certain equipment for our home in order to help to keep Lou safe. I am also at the point where I cannot take both children out without the help of someone else there, as Lou has had a meltdown everytime we’re in public and I’m often having to abandon Moo, like the time Lou ran upstairs in our local library and I had to leave Moo downstairs to quickly retrieve Lou as she was also screaming loudly and running around! I’ve had to accept that for the time being my child sees the world differently and therefore I can’t be getting jealous about what other people are doing with their children, as we have to take small steps with everything. We are lucky that we live only a few minutes walk from a train station and this allows myself and my partner to take both girls on days out, as Lou gets older she may cope better with train journeys so that we can visit places in the holidays, but as with everything, we’ve just got to wait and see.
My key is to plan, plan, plan. Here’s a few ways I think I’ll try and survive the weeks:
1. Make a sensory diet plan – As I discussed in my previous ‘sensory diet’ post I will set out specific activities to allow Lou to thrive in her ‘sensory seeking’ this will have a big emphasis on messy play. If there’s a time when we are at home and Lou is getting a bit frustrated or is running around I will get out the plan and offer her an experience that will hopefully keep her focused and absorbed. See: http://wp.me/p7BVlE-6S
2. Use Pinterest ! I get a great deal if my ideas and activities from here. I found a picture of a fairy jar recently and this was a huge successful activity for engagging Lou. Lou loves craft, getting the glue and the glitter out. See: http://wp.me/p7BVlE-4l
3. Outings with friends and play dates – we are extremely lucky to have made a wonderful and supportive network of friends in the past 12 months of living here, they understand Lou has certain difficulties and are so accommodating. Lou thrives when in the company of others, she responds better when it’s not just myself and Moo in the picture. Some days out are trips to a park or play dates around at each other’s houses which doesn’t cost anything.
4. Visiting grandparent’s – Lou and Moo are very lucky to have their grandparents (my parents) only a 6 minute drive away! Lou absolutely loves my parent’s garden it’s far bigger than ours and she has a slide, swing and climbing frame that we can’t fit in our garden, Lou has named their garden ‘The Park.’ Lou also enjoys a visit to the park in the village, and there are some lovely parks to visit in the surrounding villages.
5. If in doubt… get outside! Fresh air does wonders, we have noticed after time outdoors, the public access walks through fields and countryside, that our children sleep better. Lou is a born explorer, she will collect stones, flowers etc, and is more chilled in an outdoor environment.
6. Accessing the SMILE centre in Malvern, Worcestershire. I’ve written a post regarding the benefits of Lou attending the SMILE therapy centre. She has requested sand messy play for her first session of the holidays. We hope to see the benefits of these sessions such as a calmer approach to situations, as these sessions allow Lou to be in full ‘seeker’ mode – she will attend for 1 hour per week of the holidays. For more information please see: http://wp.me/p7BVlE-Y
I hope to report back on how our holidays are going, I look forward to taking lots more photos to share the experiences we have.