Stay-At-Home Sensory Activities with the Mini Play Mat
Are you looking for stay-at-home activities that support a sensory enriched learning environment? A lot of parents want to engage in sensory learning + play, but they fear that their house will become a disaster zone in the process. Fear not! I have three developmental home activities that will keep your household neat and organized. The ezpz Mini Play Mat is here to help!
Fork Painting: Fork painting is all the rage on Pinterest as a great sensory activity, and you can use our Mini Fork to help your kiddos create a masterpiece! But I bet you are thinking about the spills and mess, right? Yea, me too. That’s why I use the Mini Play Mat for painting play, since it suctions directly to any flat surface. This makes it difficult for "crafting" hands to tip over their paints. Score! Here are a few additional tips to make fork painting more successful:
- Fill up the center circle with water so your kiddo(s) can rinse off their Mini Fork when painting. Only fill it up ¾ of the way to further decrease the risk of spills.
- Pour different colors of paint in the other five petals. Try challenging your child to mix a few colors together to make their very own shade!
- Use the sides of the Play Mat to hold any additional sensory tools, such as paintbrushes, Q-Tips, sponges or other kitchen utensils.
- Development: Your child is learning colors, developing fine motor skills, improving memory retention, encouraging cognitive thinking, improving utensil proficiency and decreasing anxiety.
Charades: Playing charades is a fun sensory activity you can enjoy with your kids. And it’s an activity you can easily modify for emerging readers. I adapt the game by cutting out pictures from magazines (animals, transportation, movies, cartoons, actions, etc.) to make it easier for them to play and participate. Here are a couple of ideas to make charades even more amusing:
- Fill up the Mini Play Mat with words (or pictures) that have been folded twice to ensure that no one can see the word. Use the middle circle to hold a small sand timer.
- Make sure you are adding several humorous words your family will find funny. One of my favorite memories of this game was when my nephew tried to get our family to say the word ‘donkey’. We were all crying with laughter by the time he ended his turn!
- Development: Your child is working on reading, writing, cultivating their imagination, improving gross motor skills and releasing stress!
Frozen Water Beads: If there is one sensory tool in a feeding therapist toolbox, it’s water beads! I use them to teach kids about textures and calm kids who are having tantrums. These beads can also help little ones learn self-help skills such as pouring or scooping. If you haven’t experienced them, now is the time to have some sensory fun at home! Get going with these tips:
- I buy water beads in bulk and only use a teaspoon at a time since they grow so large. I fill the Mini Play Mat with some water and sprinkle beads into each section. After a few hours, your beads will increase in size (have your kids check in on their growth). Once they are the size of a small grape, your kids can enjoy some wet sensory play!
- I recommend introducing frozen water beads after you have had a day or two of fun with them at room temperature. I do this because after you freeze the beads they get mushy, and you unfortunately need to throw them out.
- To start the freezing process, simply drain the beads with a strainer, place them in the Mini Play Mat, and then put the mat in the freezer (yes; ezpz products are freezer safe). The beads freeze quickly, so make sure to check on them in 20-30 minutes. Then you can slowly thaw the beads by allowing your kids to play with them or squeezing warm water on them with a baster.
- Water beads can be a choking hazard for babies, so introduce this activity once your child is past the mouthing phase.
- Development: Your child is learning science, improving feeding skills, developing fine motor movements, acquiring cause and effect skills and learning how to self-soothe.
What are some stay-at-home activities your family is enjoying during social distancing? Do you have a favorite game, tradition or craft to share with us showcasing our Mini Play Mat? Tag us with our hashtag #ezpzfun!
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).