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Not-too-messy play ideas for son with SEN

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by amyclare, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. Dear all,

    My son is nearly 3 and has a severe communication disorder with 'fixed, rigid and obsessive' behaviours (the dr has raised the idea that he may be diagnosed with autism in the future). He is an adorable little boy though and usually(!) very happy and playful. He doesn't understand any words yet, nor has he picked up makaton or PECS so far. He goes to a wonderful nursery who specialise in SEN, and has regular SALT etc.

    I try to do his homework with him every day - PECS work - but wondered if anyone had any great ideas for fun things to do together. He is very sensory and particularly likes dropping things at the moment. Yesterday we filled a big tupperware dish with dried beans and threw them all over the house :) Thought we might try baked beans in the garden later - although getting messy isn't always his favourite.

    I'm on my own with him during the day, so games can't be too messy as I can never figure out how to clean him, me and the house at the same time - or could be done outside. Not after therapy suggestions - just any ideas that people have had fun with in the past. Thank you!
  2. katycustard

    katycustard Occasional commenter

    My daughter has always loved shaving foam in a tray or cornflour and water, but my son who has Asperger's Syndrome has never like messy activities and I have to say it hasn't made any difference to his life so far. He is 13 and hated/hates playdough, paint etc.
    If you did the shaving foam or cornflour mix, you could have the washing up bowl ready with warm soapy water in. I used to put a bath towel on the kitchen floor, with the washing up bowl on it so we went from the messy activity into the water. Clothes off and another 10 - 15 mins of fun in the water!
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    another one for outdoors is drawing chalk monsters and then spraying them with a plant spray gun to melt them allaway.
  4. Have you ever heard of Jellibaff? It's a popular messy play option at the special school where I work-you say your son doesn't like getting messy but it could be worth a try. I can't recall where it's sold but it's basically powder that turns into gel when you run water over it and the students love it but it is VERY messy. The advantage is that, although it's often used in the bath, you can use it outside if you have an empty sandpit or something similar. As I say, just a suggestion but he could like it.
  5. There are some lovely sensory ideas in this booklet.. infact this whole website is fab!
    I hope you and your son have lots of fun!
  6. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Noisy or musical ideas - would anything along these lines be of interest to you and him? He sounds like great fun. Out of curiosity, how would you definitely know that he has not understood any words yet?
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Ideas for messy play
    You don't just need brushes and an easel. Be inventive!
    Use sponges, fingers, hands, feet and other various objects to make marks.
    Roll out old wallpaper in the garden and encourage children to make footprints across - mix colours, compare feet sizes etc.
    Use washing up bottles filled with watery paint to squeeze and spray across paper.
    Flick brushes across paper to make patterns.
    Bubble painting - Blow bubbles in pots of watery paint and lay paper across the top of the pot to catch the pattern.
    Marble painting - Dip marbles in paint and roll them over paper in a tray to explore lines and patterns.
    Blow painting - Make up different coloured runny paint to drop onto paper, Use a straw to blow the paint in different directions. Watch what happens when two colours mix.
    String painting - Drop string in paint then pull it across paper like a snake in different directions.
    Mirror image painting - Paint one half of paper, then fold it, press down and open to create a mirror image. This is good for butterflies and other symmetrical objects.
    Potato prints - Great effects can be achieved by printing with potatoes. Cut the potato in half and cut patterns into the flat side before you dip it into paint. This is great for encouraging repeating patterns.
    Welly boot printing - on rolls of wall paper.
    Magic painting - draw over white paper with a white candle. Make the picture appear by painting over with watered down paint.
    Dough/Play doh
    Use with or without cutters and moulds. Encourage imaginary play such as rolling sausages for dinner or making cakes with decorations. Dough scissors are also good for fine motor control.
    Basic recipe for play doh:
    1 cup flour,
    1 cup water,
    ½ cup salt,
    1 tbsp oil,
    2 tbsp cream of tartar.
    Put all ingredients into a pan over a medium heat until the mixture starts to bind, stirring all the time. Remove from heat.
    You could try adding: /p>
    Food colouring
    Powder paint
    Uncooked rice
    Food essences e.g. strawberry or mint
    Oat meal
    Keep in the fridge and change on a regular basis.
    Remember: Dough harbours bacteria - if in doubt, throw it out!
    Gloop (cornflower mixed with water)
    Mix an amount of cornflour gradually with water until it binds. Place in a tray or shallow container and try to pick it up! Vary the consistency occasionally and for more exploratory experiences, let the children make it themselves and feel the cornflour dry and mix it up themselves.
    You also could try exploring:
    Dry or cooked spaghetti or pasta
    Cold custard
    Shaving foam
    Shredded paper
    Scents such as cinnamon or lemon juice
    Food colouring
    Drawing doesn't just have to be with a pencil and paper. Messy play offers valuable pre-writing skills. There are many ways to make marks from patterns in the gloop with your finger to lines in the sand with a lolly stick.
    Try some of these suggestions:
    Use coloured pencils/crayons/pens on different papers
    Use paintbrushes and water to ‘draw' on the pavement - watching the marks disappear on a sunny day
    Use paint to make marks with brushes/fingers to make marks
    Use twigs, lolly sticks or rough surfaced materials to make marks
    Cutting and sticking is always a favourite. Getting used to using scissors will really help improve co-ordination. Encourage your child to use the hand most comfortable to cut with. Children can cut out their own shapes and have some pre-cut shapes they can use. It's good to use a range of materials such as paper, card, magazines, felt, foam shapes, feathers, glitter, natural materials such as twigs, leaves and shells. Encourage your child to talk about their creation and praise them.
    Sand and Water play
    If using sand remember to only use play sand and sterilise with hot water regularly.
    Use various bottles, jugs, scoops, sieves, funnels, tools and containers. Filling various containers with water or dry sand gives children the experience of feeling different weights. Pouring from one container to another introduces the relationships of capacity and volume. Children love to explore floating and sinking. Damp sand feels different to dry sand, let your child explore both. Remember water play can be explored in the bath!
    You could try adding:
    Baby bath for bubbles to your water tray
    Rice/pasta in sand or water
    Animals, cars, dinosaurs etc
    Shredded paper in the sand
    Damp sand is good for building - lolly sticks make great slicers.
    Spades, buckets and trowels
    Shells and other natural objects
    Junk modelling
    When children work out how to balance one box onto another they are problem solving.
    Let children choose what they need from: packets, cardboard tubes, yogurt pots, different sized empty boxes and paper.
    If using cardboard egg boxes ensure there are no remnants of the egg in the box - if in doubt microwave the box.
    Use sticky tape as well as glue.
    Decorate with paint, glitter, stickers etc.
    Messy play in the home
    It may take a bit more time and thought when planning messy play activities but it is well worth the effort. Here are some helpful suggestions when planning messy play at home:
    Giving children craft aprons to wear will prevent getting their clothes messy. Or use big old t-shirts pulled together at the back with hair/bulldog clips for total cover.
    Take as much outdoors as possible (weather permitting!)
    Use dust sheets over furniture to protect them. Use plastic tablecloths or shower curtains on the floor depending on the activity.
    If you are playing outside, make tidying up a fun activity by letting the children wash away the chalk/paint etc on the patio using soapy water and brushes.
    If you are very anxious about the mess...think small. Messy play could just be a simple activity. E.g. a bowl of water and different containers, scented play doh or finger painting.
    The key thing to remember is to allow your child to become fully engaged with their activity and let them lead it. You can support their learning with vocabulary, posing questions and showing that you are interested and value what they are doing.

  8. Oops - didn't mean to post that.... let me try again....

    Thanks everybody.

    We had lots of fun with shaving foam and water play yesterday, and have made up some jelly for later today. I don't ming mess - you can tell that from the general state of our house - but our house is quite open plan so it's hard to contain a small boy covered in paint and goo!

    Some of these ideas are a bit advanced for him yet - he doesn't show any understanding of mark making yet that I've observed (but may be well worth trying again - hand prints in the garden maybe) - his vision is fine, he just doesn't 'look'. For instance (in a very different context), we went to a farm on Wednesday, and rather than looking at the animals, he admired the fences :)

    In regards to understanding words, it's a bit like the seeing - he loves music and his hearing is fine, but he doesn't seem to get that he should listen to people speaking! It's hard to explain - he can hear a pin drop when he chooses to, but you can whisper/say/absolutely bellow his name and get no response. He doesn't respond in any way to Daddy/Mummy/Doggy (favourite toy)/drink... It's quite bizarre and I'm no expert - but he's seen a number of different SALT and other professionals and they all concur - sadly! Hopefully he'll pick up on PECS as that strikes me as the thing that he's most likely to understand as he can hold and engage with the card in his own time.

    Off to see the paediatrician now... Maybe she'll have some words of wisdom for us :)

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