Rain, rain, go away! You wouldn’t know it today with the rain hammering down outside but the start of Spring was promising with bright blue skies, birds singing, the village sheep baa-ing, bright yellow daffodils in full bloom and the kids and I spotting our shadows as we enjoyed our walks to and from school…apparently its due to brighten up tomorrow!
When we said goodbye to our chickens earlier this year I was determined to use the space for something the children could still all enjoy and benefit from. In their place we now have two raised beds, one for growing fruit and vegetables, and one which I am creating a sensory garden in.
I have made a start on this by planting the last of my sunflower seeds that I have used in previous years, I hope the bright colour and eye-catching flowers will be popular with this years mindees.
Along the front of the bed I have planted some mint taken from a cutting elsehwhere in the garden and also some basil and some rosemary which hopefully the children will enjoy using their sense of smell to enjoy.
Next up, I would like to plant something called ‘Lambs ears’. I loved this plant as a child, it has incredibly soft leaves which I hope the children will enjoy with their sense of touch.
I also plan to plant some lavender that we like to use our playdough for a more sensory experience.
I am pleased to report that the sunflowers have started to grow already and I will keep you posted as to how it all progresses.
I keep reading about lavender playdough and have been desperate to try it! Yesterday afternoon the children cut some stems from the lavender plant in the garden. We then made fresh playdough which they love – taking it in turns to pour in a sachet of cream of tartar each, taking it in turns to stir and pour the flour in. We then added the lavender and got kneading! It was a very calming, soothing sensory play session!
I love using playdough with the children, it’s not just fun to make and play with but covers lots of areas of learning too –
By making the playdough from scratch together, the children learn about measurement and numbers by filling the cup and comparing the size of teaspoons and tablespoons, and about counting as we add the ingredients.
Children note changes in shape and size as they comment on, compare, and contrast the objects they make (“I made a triangle” and “Mine is a tiny ball and yours is big”). Others notice who has more or less playdough.
It encourages mathematical thinking – “What shape is that?” “Which snake is longer?” or “How many pieces do you have now?”
Children practice counting, learn about shapes (geometry) and how they relate to each other (spatial sense), and practice sorting and classifying.
While poking, rolling, and squishing playdough, children develop the small muscles in their fingers and hands. They use hands, fingers, and tools to pound, push, poke, shape, flatten, roll, cut, and scrape. Through these manipulations, children develop eye-hand coordination, the ability to match hand movement with eye movement. They also gain strength and improve dexterity in their hands and fingers, critical areas of physical development for writing, drawing, and other purposes.
Communication and Language
Children practice listening to and talking with others
It helps children build their vocabulary as they explain what they are doing. For example, when a child exclaims, “Chop!” as she brings down the plastic knife, she uses just the right word to describe her action.
Children use language to invent stories about their playdough creations.
Creativity and Imagination
Children express their ideas through art and make-believe play. At the same time, they learn symbolic thinking by pretending that the playdough is something else (“That thing with the antlers is a moose”).
Social and emotional development
It lets children feel competent (“I’m good at rolling the dough”) and proud of their accomplishments (“Hey, I made a dog”). Pounding, flattening, and squeezing are healthy and safe outlets for extra energy. They can also help children cope with strong feelings like anger or stress.