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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

5 Ideas for Playing with Sensory Balloons

With Calvin on the injured list, we are staying home as much as possible to avoid having to strap him into his car seat with the sling and all. Tomorrow we've got his appointment with the orthopedist to get his clavicle x-rayed again. It is only Wednesday and I already have cabin fever. On the upside, I am all caught up on laundry for once! And (in-between more episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse than I would like to admit) we've had lots of time to play and read and do some "funtivities" like art and sensory play that I had been getting lazy about.

So today I was trying to think of something new to do, or at least something we hadn't done in a while, and I came across these sensory balloons from last winter.

You may remember that Calvin promptly rejected these balloons, despite my enthusiasm.

They have been sitting in the cabinet, lonely and unused, since then. Until today! It's 9 months later, so it is probably time to give them another try.

Here's the thing. Even though I was so excited about making these and writing about them and sharing them here on the blog and pinning that post on Pinterest and everything, I wasn't actually sure what to do with them (also part of the reason they have been sitting in a cabinet for so long). I mean, you feel them, duh. But what else??

So today we played with them (Calvin decided he didn't hate them anymore) and here's what we came up with:

5 Ideas for Playing with Sensory Balloons

1. Touch and Feel
This is the obvious one. Encourage your little one to feel the textures and notice the differences. 

2. Pinch, Poke, and Press
Probably also obvious. By doing different things to play with and put pressure on the balloons you can notice how some of them change shape and others go back to their original shape. It's also just more ways to experience the textures. Calvin had to work really hard to pinch or poke hard enough to leave a mark. Little hand muscles at work. Too bad it's only his right hand at the moment!

3. Listen
I would not have thought of this if Calvin hadn't noticed it first. The different balloons actually do make different sounds when you squeeze/pinch/poke them. Calvin is so attentive to sounds. He pointed to his ear after playing with the sand one for a while, indicating that he heard a sound. At first I thought he was talking about Henry making sounds, but he pointed back at the balloon and sure enough, it makes a scratchy sound when you squeeze it!

4. Use Other Body Parts
Sensory play is not just about hands. So I let him see how the balloons' textures felt on his knees and elbows, arms and legs, even his head and toes. He really liked pressing his toes on the balloons. I also rolled each one on his back for a little massage. He started to put one in his mouth, which I didn't want him to do, but I showed him how to close his mouth and touch the balloons to his lips and cheeks. 

5. Talk 
Any kind of play is an opportunity to work on language. With the sensory balloons, you can introduce some descriptive words like bumpy, rough, scratchy, stretchy, firm, and pliable as well as verbs like press, pinch, roll, etc. You can also talk about comparing the balloons. Which one is heavier? Which one has bigger bumps? Which one do you think has sand inside? Etc.

Look, you guys! He doesn't hate them!!
Henry immediately liked them :) 

Anybody have other suggestions? Do your kids like stuff like this? I'm very interested in new ideas for sensory play.

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