I was starting lunch, and noticed that the kiddos were looking, well, kind of antsy.
“Want to look for rocks?” I ask, to an assent of cheers, as they scamper away to grab little plastic bags and their shoes.
Finishing up their lunch, I make my way to the yard and see my three little explorers in separate yet close areas of the same grassy area, grabbing large stones and placing them into their plastic bags. Just think of all the messy play and the sensory benefits it reaps-specifically on the tactile system, which is responsible for the perception of touch. As this was a child-directed activity, the individual had complete control over the stimuli, leading to improved sensory processing, and overall self-regulation. In general, I have found the most success when utilizing natural manipulatives and surfaces with children with sensory integrative or modulation difficulties, as they tend to ground children (and adults!) to their center.
“Look how strong I am!” My eldest daughter exclaims, a while later, holding a bag filled with rocks over her head, a look of pride evident on her face. Of course, my son follows suit.
We make our way inside, with a promise of a super-fun project. They were pretty confused. You mean, we can have the rocks inside the house? We can keep them? That was the basic gist of the questions I was being asked:)
First, I had each child wash two rocks in the sink. Turning the sink on to the proper pressure requires good hand control and stability, and holding the rock while washing it requires good fine motor strength and coordination, as well as bilateral upper extremity coordination and integration. Searching for dirt worked on visual motor and perceptual skills.
Next, I gave each child a few paper towels and they scrubbed their rocks dry. This part of the activity focused on crossing midline, bilateral upper extremity coordination and integration, and fine motor strength and coordination.
Each child was then given a plate. One rock was placed on the plate, where they were free to decorate it with different types of markers to their hearts content. When they were through, they placed each rock into the community/family centerpiece bowl, and moved onto their last rock. They acted as scientists, talking about their observations, with coaching; for example, when a rock had a smooth texture, all markers were able to easily write on its surface, but when a rock had a rough texture, my children noticed that highlighters worked best. This portion of the activity honed in on cognitive skills, fine motor skills, visual motor skills, sensory skills (mostly tactile), and imaginative play skills.
Have a wonderful rest of the week, and a beautiful weekend!