I remember reading in college about a research project where children were given different flavored jolly ranchers while doing homework and practicing for upcoming subject area tests.
The children who had a consistent flavor candy during spelling practice were then given the same flavor to suck on during the test. The results showed that those with the same sensory activation outperformed the group with no candy and with different flavored candy.
Of course, the study was small and I, for the life of me cannot find the research to share with you (I must admit it “may” have been a few years since I was in undergrad) but the information stayed with me throughout my classroom teaching years and as I became a mom.
Your senses matter.
They can have a powerful effect on your play and learning.
Knowing this, I try my hardest to be aware of children’s preferences. My oldest wants to taste things and has wild taste buds. She will eat everything from raw onions to cooked oysters. My middle likes things LOUD. In fact, sometimes I wish he came with a volume button. He likes to bang drums and sing at the top of his lungs. With him, I change my voice to a whisper to get his attention. My little one… well, he’s a toddler and into E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Sometimes it drives me batty, but he wants to feel and touch everything from the pancake batter (yes, he stuck his whole hand in it this morning) to laying on the tile floor soaking in the coolness on a summer day.
Thanks to a new resource by Nurture Store: Super Sensory Invitations to Play ebook.
Calming Lavender Play-dough.
Lavender Play-dough! It had just happened that we had a bundle of freshly dried lavender from our garden that we were trying to decide what to do. We have a small backyard garden and I love the smell of lavender, so tried planting some this year as part of our sensory garden.
When the flowers were mid bloom – meaning they had already started flowering but were not at the very end, the kids snipped the flowers off with parts of the stem intact. My two year old ADORES cutting my flowers, which means we have lots of fresh bouquets and not a lot of blooms outside.
They gathered them in a small bundle and brought them indoors to dry. A dry, dark place is the best for keeping the color. We clothes pinned them upside down and waited.
After a week, the flowers showed no signs of moisture, so we took them down and stripped the flowers off the stems. (The house smelled SO good!)
You could put the dried flowers into sealed container for use in a sensory project, or add them to a sachet for your closet.
Thankfully, I had all the ingredients for playdough too. And so, whipped up a batch, added some coloring in and handed it to the kids. They sprinkled the lavender on top and kneeded it in.
The whole process was a delightful sensory experience. My 8 year old complained it wasn’t “strong” enough for her – so we added some lavender essential oil to her section too. *** Note- Not all kids can tolerate the lavender smell or essential oils*** You could always switch it out for another herb as well.
The children have now brought out the playdough every night before bed and have build lavender men (with the gingerbread cookie cutters), flowers out of playdough and my favorite – HEARTS!
My daughter made one for me and said she loved playing with the lavender playdough after dinner because if helped her calm down and get ready for bed.