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Exploring Weather Through Sensory Play

I would like to welcome Anne who is guest blogging for us today and sharing her recent Weather activities that her students have been enjoying.

Hello there! My name is Anne and I’m a Developmental and Therapeutic Play Specialist. 
We lend out specialist toys and equipment to children and adults with a disability in the area. 
We also run regular themed sensory play sessions for our members and this is how I came into contact with Amy at Learning and Exploring Through Play. 

We always pick a theme for our sessions to ensure the children get a good variety of different activities and it also really helps us to be creative in our planning. 

We try to target as many senses as possible and always consider the needs of the children attending when we are planning activities. Some children have particular preferences which we make sure we cater for so that they will engage in play (this can be hard for some of our children). 

We also keep the number of children attending our sessions to a maximum of 5 per hour to ensure that there is a calm environment. 
This is especially important for children with Autism, and they make up the majority of our members. 
Parents attend the sessions with their children so that they can also be involved in play and get ideas, support and advice from staff. We really enjoy having the whole family involved in our sessions.

Recently we had a Weather theme for our after school session:

I filled one tuff tray to represent rainbows with coloured rice. I dyed the rice using the hand gel and food colouring method - which I highly recommend. I also added some pots and spoons for scooping. 
In addition available for play was also some coloured transparent window viewers. The children really love these and I find them to be a brilliant way of exploring colour. 

Another tuff tray had a fan with a white, fluffy cloud fabric along with feathers, pom poms and windmills to blow and represent wind. Some great experimentation went on in this tray!

We also had a Tuff Tray on the floor with a foil blanket, some drums and rain sticks to explore the sounds of a thunder storm. The children enjoyed working together in this Tray which was lovely to watch. 

Our water tray was filled with water beads, nets and a water wheel to explore rain. The water beads provide a fantastic sensory experience, especially when submerged in water. They become almost transparent. They are cool and slippery and worked well with the water wheel too. 

We always have a dark den set up at our sessions. This is a safe, quiet place for children who may be anxious to retreat to. It is also visually appealing as it is filled with lovely lights. On this particular session I used a rope light to represent lightning in a storm as well as UV light, UV fabrics and glow sticks to explore

Our craft activity for the afternoon was sticking cotton wool for clouds and whatever else the children wanted to include. To encourage some of our children who are reluctant to take part in crafts we sometimes make up pictures and find they are then happy to 'add to' them. If there was to be a blank canvas, some of our children would stay away from crafts altogether, so we like to give the opportunity so its there.

The final tuff tray had ice in it which I had frozen in plastic cups, as well as snowflake glitter and some winter-themed animals for imaginative play. The children really enjoyed sliding the ice blocks in the tray and breaking the ice apart.

We had a great afternoon for our weather-themed session and hope we have inspired you a little bit too!

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