Sensory processing is crucial to all other areas of a child's development. It affects how the child perceives sound, movement, taste, smells and touch. If a child has difficulties or aversions to sensory input in any of these areas, he or she will naturally avoid stimulation, which may affect learning. As a parent or educator, you can assist a child in developing sensory experiences. One way to make sensory learning fun is by incorporating a jungle theme. Below is a list of several sensory activities with jungle themes.
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Jungle print rugs can stimulate both the visual and tactile (touch) senses. Zebra and tiger prints are very popular. Children love rolling in and being wrapped in rugs and blankets. To provide deep pressure, which many children crave, wrap them snugly in blankets, avoiding their faces.
Don't forget a jungle meal to stimulate olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) sensations! Older children can research what animals eat. Giraffes like lots of greens. Monkeys like bananas. Crunchy foods like carrots provide proprioceptive input, a name for heavy work for joints and muscles. Proprioceptive activities are known for helping to calm overstimulated children. Which animal in the jungle likes carrots? A picky child who is sensitive to different taste sensations and textures may be more responsive to eating food that their favourite jungle animals enjoy!
Animal walking. This is a great way to incorporate movement into your jungle theme. Have child pretend to be different jungle animals and walk across the room. He may use his arm to make an elephant trunk or race across the room on all fours like a leopard. Animal walking is a great activity that allows children to use their imaginations and expend their energy. Teachers will often use this activity prior to having small children complete written work at their desks.
Kids typically LOVE music. Music can be calming to children and is often used prior to nap time. Music with a fast tempo can also be alerting. There are lots of CDs loaded with nature sounds, including those found in the jungle. Use music in the background of your activities, even those listed above, to calm or alert the child depending on the selection you choose. You may even play a game and have child attempt to name the sounds they hear. This requires focus and is a good game to build attention skills.
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