Rainbows – beautiful and magical natural phenomena. In early years they are very popular, the strong colours support early learning of primary and secondary colours, pattern, sequence, blending, they are visually striking and appealing and seem to make everything look better!
Rainbows have always featured heavily in sensory play, nature has a way of incorporating the complimentary colours of a rainbow so beautifully, really its makes our job easier! You just need to look at a bunch of flowers, or a bowl of fruit to realise that colour is everywhere, so lets take advantage of it!
During sensory workshops we aim to provide resources that are safe in each and every way, so that children may handle and even mouth them if they so wish – many of the children attending the sessions were of an age or developmental stage that mouthing objects was a key component of their sensory play. To accommodate this, it was important to provide materials that were made of natural materials (wood etc) where possible and to use taste safe resources – below are some examples of how to incorporate rainbows into your child’s play that is safe, stimulating and striking!
Here are my 3 little sensory sensations, all ready for session #2 of the day. As you can see there are 6 pastel shades of dyed rice (how to in a later post), needless to say it did not take long for the blocks of colour to become a kaleidoscopic blend of colours – as can be seen from the rice at the top of the tray that was salvaged from session #1!
I should note at this point, that during session children usually dive right in and start mixing, some parents onlooking get a bit squeamish and at time even try to stop children from mixing colours for fear of ‘ruining it’, as it looks so attractive! True that once mixed, they are never going to be used as individual colours again (unless you have a very patient helper willing to sit and separate individual grains of rice, what? No takers?), but you know what, THATS OK!!!!!
As sensory workshop facilitator, I often find that really children will quite happily get on with whatever is in front of them, with little hesitation or confusion. Parent’s and carers, however are the ones who need education and support to understand the value, importance and learning involved in just MIXING THE RICE! Check out this post on Sensory Play to understand the concerns many have and the benefits of sensory play. A lot of session time is spent speaking with parents, supporting them to sit on their hands, resist the urge to dive in and ‘fix’ the child’s play; it has also been the surprising outcome of embarking of this adventure, I thought I wanted to provide sensory play for children, yes and no! I want children to have access to sensory experiences in a real way, and that means getting their carers on board! What a pleasure it has been to seen parents relax and truly enjoy their child fully immersed in sensory play.
Anyway, I digress, back to rainbows!
So rainbow rice on a White Tuff Tray makes it visually high contrast, the colours really pop! Adding tools or trays in vibrant rainbow colours adds to the experience. The blue textured mat behind (was the sky!), and added to the tactile experience.
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As you can see you do not need vast quantities of rice to make an effective activity, this little one is about 8/9mths old and thoroughly delighted with the colours and textures.
You will also see in the picture the fabulous Grimm’s Toys Rainbow Stacking Toy, large This is definitely an investment piece (I purchased using a combination of birthday vouchers for my boys!), the value of playing with this simple yet stunning resource is incredible, it stacks, balances, is robust for little hands, colours and texture are amazing, plus it enhances the play when added to other resources and toys (think bridges and roads for toy cars, beds for dolls) so versatile – the novelty will not wear off this one!
Of course there is more to rainbow sensory play than rice!
Playdough is a firm favourite, again, it looks amazing nestled alongside each other, individual vibrant colours – but brace yourself – this is going to get MIXED UP TOO – and there really is not coming back from rainbow dough that has been smushed together, there really isn’t – embrace it and get over it, the kids will love it!!!
Excellent to develop muscle tone in hands, fine motor skills and dexterity, all of which are essential pre-writing skills and general life skills (fastening zips, buttons, grasping small objects). Playdough is so versatile, you can change the colour, texture, scent to suit your needs – much more to come on playdough later – in the mean time out this post on Exploring Sensory Dough
Crayons are another versatile resource – even more so when you make them your self at a Make and Take Workshops. When I started out on this Sensory journey, I began by making and selling crayons and playdough and the feedback was phenomenal. Without a doubt the most popular crayons were the rainbow puzzle pieces, they are perfect for little hands to cover large areas in a beautiful blended colour – lovely for those little ones enjoying their schema of enveloping by covering over their picture with another colour!
To promote whole body movement, which supports children’s propreception development – ribbons and shakers are great for this, I challenge you as an adult to hold one and NOT shake it, you can’t can you! Well children are the same, they instinctively react to their environment, if you have a collection of instruments and ribbons children will get up and move! Magical x
Not forgetting FOOD! – what a way to make food more appealing than presenting it in all its glory in a beautiful rainbow – 1st Birthday Fruit Rainbow and Greek Food Rainbow went down a treat (when I eventually managed to open the giant olive jar!
I hope you have enjoyed this snap shot of our colourful sensory lives! If you are interested in finding out more about how to create your own sensory resources, simply contact me for details of workshops, training or general advice.