sensory explorations … messy play

we explore our world in countless ways over here. our school motto could fittingly be “there is no one ‘right or wrong‘ way to play … just play“. the encouragement to explore using your whole self is very evident and wholeheartedly embraced in our school. we learn from each other, with each other and through the trust afforded that it is in the discovery of our world that we are learning, not pursuing an end result.

kate at ‘peaceful parents, confident kids‘ has a wonderfully written blog post on this, titled ‘allowing children to play for their age and stage‘. kate beautifully details how we also function in our school, the practice magda gerber founded many years ago with RIE. kate writes:

One of my most favourite and rewarding RIE practises centres around the notion that, in play, children are entirely capable of achieving their own goals at their own pace often without the need for demonstration or guidance.

sensory play - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

and so it was today in the art studio with a set of tempera paints, some rocks and a piece of paper. what was painted is secondary to the exploration of the paint and painting. and exploring and experiencing were top of the list today! painting rocks isn’t really a mess-free feat to begin with, and paint on fingers and hands just lent itself so naturally to actually just painting fingers and hands.

we sat with each other for a long while, just exploring without explaining, and allowing this time together to just sink in. today, like every day, was about the process, and not any product. there was no need to interrupt this process to explain or detail – even to describe the sensory feeling or learned discovery. the simplicity of sharing space together, sharing some gentle smiles and sharing this process together, was enough.

messy play and exploratory play are so vital for all ages — not just the very young! angie voss details it well over on ‘a sensory life(the new home for understandingSPD) with a whole page dedicated to ‘messy play‘. she wisely writes:

Messy play is a crucial sensory stage of development for the tactile system and the nervous system for gross and fine motor development, body awareness, bilateral integration, left/right discrimination, and self regulation…just to name a few.
Encouraging messy play on a DAILY basis will “do the body good”.

– Angie Voss, OTR, author “The Essential Guide to Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder” and “Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals”

just because a child might be five, or seven or nine, {or a child at heart} and not ‘just’ a toddler, does not mean that painting hands and feet in the art studio is off limits. or that we don’t still pull out shaving cream or make cornstarch ‘goop’ or fill bins with rice or beans or other materials for other forms of tactile sensory exploration. each of us, at every age and stage of development throughout a lifetime, need messy play and sensory explorations.

next time you visit, kick off your shoes and join us in some messy play and some play without expectation — and the laughs and smiles that typically fill the space, too. we’d love to have you explore some with us.

:: where will your play take you today? 

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