Monday, December 8, 2014

Pizzazz! Sparkle!! A sensory space

Every child benefits from a sensory environment.  Touch, smell, listen, see, and taste.  The more we use our senses, the more our brains develop.  For kids with Down syndrome, this is extra beneficial.  The more experiences I can give Cade, the better his brain will grow.  Last year I had "Caesar's Palace."  This year I created a sensory play corner.

My original idea came from, where else, Pinterest.  I took her ideas and went from there.  With my husband pushing the babies in a cart, I perused our local home improvement store for inspiration.  And walked out with about $30 in random "stuff", along with a large section of beadboard that we had cut in the lumber yard.  I went home and looked critically at the only spare corner in our small house.

Our play corner before I overhauled it.  It was mostly a storage area for our climbing blocks.

In the garage, I laid out my initial supplies.  The beadboard came as a larger piece so I had the lumber yard cut it into 4 pieces for me.  They're about 18" x 30".  A lot of my sensory items were free samples.  I bought an odd assortment of things, too.  Anything he could DO that would capture his attention.

I arranged them on the board and tried to imagine him...sitting, standing, even laying.  What would he feel?  What would he see?

The tape was on the pipe just long enough for the glue to dry.  I always kept safety in mind as I imagined the boards.

Then I glued it all down with Gorilla Glue.  It was reported to be the strongest glue and some of these things I definitely didn't want coming loose.  The chain fits down inside the pipe and is long enough to come out the other end.  The light takes batteries and clicks on and off.  The black square and brown rectangle are for texture...the brown is pretty rough and the black is very smooth.

With some Command picture hanging strips (the velcro-like strips) I hung the mirrors and the first board, along with some trinkety items I thought Cade would like.  I covered the floor with some foam puzzle mats that we had but never used.  Then I took a few of our foam climbing blocks and closed in the room.  And let Cade loose.  Immediately he crawled through the tunnel into his new little corner.

A little free advertising for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network

I was gleeful as he explored his new space and instantly started playing with the sensory board.  And so I started looking for more items to fill a second board.  We had space on the wall for two boards, so I wanted to build the second board as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, it turned out that all of our boys liked the new space...

When our OT first visited, she bee-lined for the corner and hopped over the tunnel to check it out.  She raved over what a great space it was, which made me feel good for trying this crazy idea.

I finally finished the second board and our play space is officially complete.


It's a bright, cheerful little spot, no more than 16 square feet.  But it's a stimulating environment to awaken the senses, at least until you play so hard that you fall asleep! 

I still have 2 sections of beadboard, so my next plan is to make 2 "extra" boards, then change them out regularly with the ones currently on the wall.  I really want to incorporate smell and maybe even taste into the new boards.  I have some ideas, so we'll see if they pan out!  Since I use Command strips that are like velcro, as long as all the strips are in the same location on each board, I can do this without any damage to the wall.  I also regularly change out the toys and books inside the corner.  Some days it has rubber blocks, other days musical instruments.  I don't put a lot of thought into it, I just swap them out when I'm picking up clutter.


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