Body/Spatial awareness in Outer space Theme 2015
This week’s “My Body in Space” theme incorporates numerous skills around proprioception and body awareness. Proprioception/body awareness is the sense of where our bodies are in space, according to sensations, movement, and feedback from our muscles, tendons, and joints. Receptors called proprioceptors are located in the muscles and joints to tell the brain when and how much the muscles are contracting or stretching, and when and how much the joints are bending, extending or being pulled and compressed. This information enables a person to know where each part of the body is and how it is moving through space (without using vision). Children with poor awareness of body parts tend to rely on visual information. They may have difficulty knowing where their body is in relation to objects. They may have poor fine motor control because they cannot accurately feel where or how their arms, forearms, hands or fingers are moving. These children may also appear clumsy or disorganized. (information on proprioception provided modified from Getting it Write Program designed by LouAnne Audette and Anne Karson, 2003). Group activities this week aim to support children becoming more aware and in-tune with their bodies moving through “outer space”.
An outer space theme can be used at home to expand on body awareness, proprioception, symbolic and pretend play interests, and increase a child’s motivation to participate in numerous skill-building activities.
- “Our Hands in Space” – Teaching children to identify their right hand is not to develop or show preference for the right hand, but to help support body awareness and to teach children that the right hand is used to shake hands when meeting new friends. The addition of stamping the hand adds a sensory experience to increase exposure to different sensory input. This activity can also be done by rubbing the right hand briskly to warm it and having the child make a fist and keep the hand closed and warm, or put lotion on the right thumb and index finger pads and have the child rub them together (helps with opposed thumb position which is a foundation for writing). (Information on activity modified from Handwriting Without Tears by Jan Olsen, 2001).
- “Shooting Star Toss” – Jumping on a trampoline is a fun way to provide proprioceptive input to our muscles and joints. Games that include target practice (like throwing beanbags or crumpled paper) while jumping help to increase motor planning and sequencing multiple step activities. Crumbling paper and throwing objects to close and far distances help teach children how to grade their pressure, which will help them to be successful in a variety of activities (including developing their writing skills).
- “Silly Space Travels” – Having children pretend they are ‘traveling’ to different locations or use silly and fun body movements, expands on their symbolic play and can be a fun family activity.
- “My Marble Planet” craft – Crafts that involve slow and planned out movements (such as swirling a marble in paint in the top of a box lid) with both hands (or tearing tissue paper and stiff card stock) help foster bilateral coordination and can provide a creative way to learn about grading pressure.
- “Alien Spaghetti” – Using a variety of new and different textures in a fun playful way is a great way to increase tactile tolerance. Add toys to a sensory bin with rice, noodles, beans, etc. and have your children find the hidden toys. This is also a helpful strategy to increase regulation.
“Plate O Planets” – Remember to make eating fun! Cutting out food in the shapes of something fun i.e. planets can be a great way to get children to “play” with their food and continue to increase food exposure. Remember, even if they don’t eat it, exposure to new foods by smell and touch will get them one step closer!