Children that experience a learning difference usually learn differently in several areas of learning. They can have issues with reading, writing, math, receptive / expressive language or auditory comprehension. Children also have a distinct style of learning. Much of the school day is spent trying to learn these subjects in an auditory or visual way. If a child does not have strength in that style of learning and has a learning difference in the subject being taught, it is extremely frustrating for them. It is difficult enough to try to comprehend the subject much less trying to learn it in a style that is not your strength! Sensory activities can help a child with learning differences understand concepts more clearly and make the material easier to retrieve later.
As the boys looked at the volcano they decided that it needed water, “Can we pour water in it, Nana?” After the water was poured in the boys noticed something…it did not stay! The water was disappearing. “Nana, where’s the water?” This was an opportunity to talk about absorption. The boys poured more water and tested out their hypotheses. What if rocks were added here or dirt added there? Could that stop this absorption from happening?
To extend and build on their play I went and got bath bombs to add to the water. The boys looked intently as the bombs fizzed in the water. As the water was absorbed by the dirt they added more water to the volcano. Then they need more bombs, this time three were added for increased “fizzy action.”
The final step in their play was “volcanization.” This process involved the destruction of the volcano. The boys fervently pushed the rocks and dirt back and forth, knocking the volcano flat. It was fully “vonlcanized” now. They squished the mud between their fingers. They rubbed the muddy rocks with their hands. Thoroughly satisfied they stood up and gazed at their creation. They were satisfied that this was the definition of “volcanization."
You can see how valuable this activity could be if I were teaching about volcanoes, absorption, chemical reactions or even focusing on social skills. It would be possible to use as a group activity to teach children about anger and how it can “erupt like a volcano.” The possibilities are endless. It is not difficult to incorporate sensory play into the lives of children. This is something that you can do as a parent, therapist or teacher. It is time to think outside the box and let our children reap the benefits of sensory play. Get your mess on!