Happy spring everyone! I know you have already probably experienced at least one good day of weather as we head into warm weather season. The spring season gave me a great idea for my students: sensory bags! Sensory bags are not a new idea but let me walk you through how it is also an Expanded Core Curriculum lesson.
We did this project as an after school program activity. The sensory bags are actually a two part activity. Part one was a fun walk around our school campus (we have tons of trees, paths, etc that surround our campus). I gave each student an empty bag as they went out on their walk. We looked (touched) everything and anything on our walk! We discussed what we discovered.
orientation and mobility (cane skill practice, using stairs, locating landmarks, direction development)
sensory efficiency (using our senses to discover/determine what we encountered, using our senses to integrate information)
compensatory (organization/concept development)
recreation & leisure (enjoying a walk and or nature)
self-determination (making choices about what to look at or touch, in control of self)
and social skills (conversation and friendship opportunities)
Part two of our activity was easy discussion of what we collected (see above). The next thing we did was continue the sensory fun with oils, plants and textures. I bought a variety of essential oils (from Walmart for about $5 each) and we soaked some cotton balls. The scents ranged from orange to lavender and lemon. I also used some around the house scents such as vanilla. We took turns smelling the cotton balls and rating what we liked and disliked.
I also purchased some herbs and flowers as well (also from Walmart--all under $5 each). I bought lavender and rosemary with lambs ear and basil in small pots. Each student had the opportunity to explore each item. They could add the herbs/flowers to their sensory bags.
Note: Maintain a good pace throughout the activity. This is an opportunity for exploration and concept building skills. My students ranged from typical to kids with multiple impairments. Don't limit your students to just smell. This is a sensory activity--allows fingers, taste, feet, etc. to experience what you can find in nature!!
The end of part two was planting our plants. Each student selected something to plant. I bought simple red pots and decorations for each pot. The students selected decorations and customized their pot to their liking.
I used the APH Invisboard to help with CVI and visual efficiency modifications. Below is an example of how we placed the sparkly foam stickers for selection for the students. I know they are true to life pictures for students but I knew that the students could make a choice based on what we offered them.
Look at how much fun we had decorating our plants! I liked the idea of having the students take home something other than the sensory bags to help keep the fun going. I have to admit it, as a parent I wouldn't have kept the bag around long term but a flower can be enjoyed all season!
Last, we loaded up our little red wagon with our flower pots and headed back outside to water our flowers/herbs. I gave each student spray bottles (bonus teaching tool) and we finished our project. The other little sneaky teaching moment was to provide more opportunities for non-sport recreation and leisure. How many people garden for fun? Our kids can, too!
What a fun activity and another great way to implement the Expanded Core Curriculum!