Sticky fin­gers are good

Aye­sha Parak-makada shows you how to turn messy play into an ex­plo­ration of the senses – and she shares her play­dough ideas for sen­sory play

Your Baby & Toddler - - The Dossier -

WHAT IS SEN­SORY PLAY? WHY IS SEN­SORY PLAY IM­POR­TANT? MY TOD­DLER STILL PUTS THINGS IN HIS MOUTH. ARE TH­ESE RECIPES SAFE? SO IS IT OKAY TO EAT IT?

While the recipes are taste friendly, your lit­tle one prob­a­bly shouldn’t eat co­pi­ous amounts. How­ever, if they do choose to “sam­ple” they should be ab­so­lutely fine.

DO I NEED TO BUY ANY SPE­CIAL IN­GRE­DI­ENTS?

Al­most all of the in­gre­di­ents used in this book are staples in most kitchens. The idea is for the av­er­age per­son to be able to whip up any of th­ese recipes with­out much pre-plan­ning or ef­fort.

HOW DO I SET UP A SEN­SORY SCENE/TUB?

When I set up a sen­sory scene or tub, I like to choose a theme first. It makes de­cid­ing what to do just a bit eas­ier. Most of the time I com­bine one of the recipes with an as­sort­ment of ob­jects and lit­tle toys.

WHAT KINDS OF OB­JECTS AND TOYS DO YOU SUG­GEST?

Pegs, spoons, spat­u­las, cups, scoops, even a whisk or comb! Any as­sort­ment of good­ies that would in­ter­est your lit­tle one. As for toys, I use toys re­lated to the theme. I es­pe­cially love model an­i­mals.

IS THERE ANY­THING I SHOULD GET TO MIN­IMISE MESS?

My favourite tools are cheap. I like to set up most of my sen­sory scenes in­side an empty plas­tic sand­pit. If the scene is not con­ducive to be­ing set up in a sand­pit, I use a kid­dies’ plas­tic ta­ble that I set up in my kitchen. Cover it with a plas­tic ta­ble cover and lay down a sheet of plas­tic un­derneath. “Why the kitchen?” you must be won­der­ing. Well, be­cause I’ve learnt from ex­pe­ri­ence that messy play and soft fur­nish­ings don’t re­ally play well to­gether. But the best and eas­i­est place to set up a sen­sory tub… is in an ac­tual, empty bath­tub! And of course, the best part of us­ing a bath­tub is that you can sim­ply wash away all the mess when you’re done.

PLAY­DOUGH IDEAS

There is so much more to play­dough than just rolling it and cut­ting it with cut­ters. Here are a few ex­cit­ing things that you can do with play­dough:

Play­dough can be used to hide tiny trea­sures in. My favourite trick is to hide tiny model an­i­mals in­side balls of dough and then roll the dough to re­sem­ble eggs. I love watch­ing the look of glee on a child’s face as they “hatch” an egg and find the crea­ture in­side.

You can also use play­dough in con­junc­tion with pa­per play­dough mats. You pro­vide your lit­tle one with a pic­ture to help them get their cre­ative juices flow­ing. The pic­ture should act as a scene of sorts, that they can add play­dough ac­cents to.

One of my favourites is a pic­ture of a bowl of spaghetti. En­cour­age the child to make meat­balls out of play­dough and add them to the spaghetti. If you would like the mats to last more than one use, it is bet­ter to lam­i­nate them, or just pop them into a plas­tic sleeve. YB

Any ac­tiv­ity that aims to stim­u­late any one of a child’s five senses. From birth, chil­dren learn about the world around them us­ing their five senses. Sen­sory play en­cour­ages learn­ing in a prac­ti­cal way that stim­u­lates a child’s senses. By stim­u­lat­ing a child’s senses we are send­ing sig­nals to the child’s brain. We are help­ing to strengthen im­por­tant neu­ral path­ways that are in­te­gral for learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment. This helps prime the brain for learn­ing other skills. I’ve cho­sen all of th­ese recipes very care­fully, al­most all of them (un­less oth­er­wise stated) are taste friendly, which makes them ideal for tod­dlers. As all moms know, ev­ery­thing ends up in a tod­dler’s mouth.

This T ar­ti­cle is an ex­tract from the book Sticky Fin­gers, by Aye­sha Parak-makada, mom of two and owner of tod­dler play­group Mums & Cubs. In­sta­gram: @stick­yfin­gers. sen­so­ry­play; se email: stick­yfin­gers.sen­so­ry­[email protected]; web­site: www.mum­sand­cubs.co.za. The book costs R250-R285 and is avail­able from the web­site and lead­ing book­stores.

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