Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Creating Play Environments

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Creating Play Environments

Article excerpt

Let Play! Project specializes in creating and adapting environments to enable children to play. While their area of focus is on young children (ages birth to 2) many of theses bath time activities can be useful and enjoyable for older children as well. It's all good, clean fun!

For children who already love the water, bath time is a great opportunity to increase their experiences with movement, learning, and imagination. For children who are not enthusiastic about bath time, play activities may diminish anxiety, especially if they feel "in control" of the activities.

Of course, it is essential that the child be safe in the water before he or she plays. There are a number of commercially available tub seats for young children. For older children who require supports, a bath seat may need to be ordered from a specialty catalog.

Once a child is properly supported, let the games begin!!!! Water is a wonderful sensory medium as it "responds" to virtually any movement. For the young child, it may be fun to just splash by moving arms and legs in the water. The resistance of the water is a good way to increase muscle strength and the feedback your child will get is a "splash."

Games to play/materials to use

* Naming body parts is a classic tub game. Use a wash cloth, a bar of soap, a paintbrush, or foam soap to wash the body part your child has indicated. You can also put the child in charge of washing as you name the part to be washed. This can be a fun turn-taking game. With a paintbrush, your child can "paint" the tub with his or her body.

* Certain materials encourage water play: sponges for squeezing and wringing with two hands, cups to fill up and dump, or two cups to pour water back and forth between them and "mix" the water. Turkey basters are great for squeezing, and funnels are also interesting to pour water into and watch it come out.

* Consider using empty dish liquid bottles or spray bottles to squirt water. Have an older child squirt the water into an empty margarine container floating on the surface to "sink the ship," or aim at his or her toes.

* Another game which encourages eyes and hands to work to is using a fish net or ladle to scoop floating objects (plastic fish, ping-pong balls, etc. …

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