Alexis and I had the pleasure of teaching our first Sensory Workshop, made possible through the Neighbourhood Small Grants program from Vancouver Foundation, Volunteer Richmond and Richmond Community Foundation. We were so happy to be joined by 13 families who participated in play experiences, and were fascinated to witness children immerse themselves in the sensory materials – literally!

My phone rang at about 2:30pm that afternoon, Alexis on the other end double checking all the materials we needed to gather for the evening. “I’ve got my trolly loaded up” she told me. I was in the midst of making four batches of cornstarch paint and knew that we had an evening of fun ahead of us. “We get to play in an hour” I said. During set up, that’s exactly what we did! The photo above is us manipulating our reflections, and I of course, had to stop to document the moment. Over dinner we finalized notes for the workshop and prayed that everyone coming would have a good time. We also asked God for some superpowers to help us deliver this information that had been in our hearts for the past few months.

Our workshop began by asking parents of their first play memory. It was fascinating to hear that many had a sensory component to them and that ALL of the play memories were open ended, child led, play. We brainstormed on what the hindrances are to offering sensory play at home and collectively found solutions while sharing stories of our children. With child development being our passion, Alexis and I were thankful for the opportunity to share how sensory play can help children in their cognitive, social, language and physical development.

Before we knew it, it was time to invite the children into the room to explore all the materials with their parents. I wish I had the time to document what was happening in the room! With 16 children ages one through eleven, we had a busy room filled with many play experiences.

We watched children and adults:
– manipulate light
– explore reflections
– poke, prick, squish, slam, toss and roll playdough
– delicately cradle the water beads and a moment later, squish and bounce them
– mix, pour, measure, squeeze shampoo and conditioner to create potions
– use their hands to create paintings
– swirl, swoosh, hold, squirt, and mix shaving cream
– pour, scoop, and scrape sand
– trace, scoop, and pinch salt
– grab, mix, pick and scoop bark mulch
– lick, bite, and smell at our tasting station (a.k.a. snacks)

I have so many favourite moments from this evening, but the ones that stood out were hearing the children say “this is so much fun” and “look! look at me!” to their parents and being able to see parents play along side their children. And what excited me most, was that no one was worried about making a mess! More photos of our evening can be found on our Facebook page. We are less that two weeks away from presenting the Educator version of this workshop. Looking forward to seeing more messes – that is, remnants of play!

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