The old adage says that April showers can bring May flowers. Along with those flowers comes grass. Lots of long grass, growing in lawns everywhere. Grass that can look beautiful. Unfortunately, it does not feel that way to some children with tactile sensitivities. Children who may need the enticement of fun in order to brave the sensory input of fresh long grass underfoot.
Likewise, after peering out the window at the April showers, May arrives to sensory seekers who have a serious need for increased sensory activities.
In either case, if you scoop up your Sensory Savvy Lenses and look at all the growing grass outside your door this month through them, you may just discover fun fodder for sensory diets.
Build Long Grass Nests
Many young children enjoy pretending they are dinosaurs or birds. Get some tactile input by making huge nests of long grass clippings.
Use children’s rakes to incorporate motor planning.
Lug some small boulders to the nest centers for proprioceptive work.
Add tactile input by searching for different objects, such as pine cones, to serve as eggs in dramatic play.
With older children who are beyond the dramatic play stage, let the birds themselves build the nests.
Have children get tactile input by collecting a combination of dried long grass, string, ribbon, cotton batting, cloth strips, puffy seeds and other such materials.
Then, get some vestibular and proprioceptive input by creating nesting caches for the birds.
Bend low to make small piles of nesting materials in sheltered areas where birds gather.
Stretch high to spread them atop shrubs or tuck them into tree crevices.
Add some fine motor and motor planning skill work in by stuffing feeder cages or mesh bags with nesting materials and hanging these on branches close to the main trunks of trees.
Before long, the visual pay off will come as birds arrive to pluck out the materials left for them.
Create Long Grass Art
Add some visual and tactile input while getting artistic with grass.
Make Stained Glass
Hang a piece of clear contact paper up with the sticky side out.
Then, using grass clippings, flower petals, etc., make a 3-D “stain glass” collage.
Paint with Grass
Before hedging or mowing, pull a handful of long grasses up.
Tie or tape them together and use them as a paint brush for regular painting on paper or water painting on concrete.
Create Geometric Prints
Make a geometric design of single layer grass clippings on a smooth surface, such as a table or clipboard.
Then, cover with paper and use the side of a thick crayon to make a rubbing print.
Make Springtime Long Grass Scarecrows
There is no need to wait for autumn to enjoy making scarecrows.
Use outgrown cooler weather clothing to make springtime scarecrows.
Simply tie off the bottoms of the arms and legs on the clothing and then stuff, stuff, stuff with grass clippings.
It not only makes for a great tactile and motor planning workout, but also creates an opportunity for proprioception.
Search out an ideal location for your springtime scarecrow – against a tree, on a front stoop, or propped in a garden. Have your children carry the stuffed parts to it.
Then, add shoes. Find a suitable head such as a decorated paper plate on a stick. Add whatever props you like.
Collect Long Grass Tickle Sticks
Find long stems of grass with feathery-seed heads.
Use these like a feather for traditional tickle wars.
Better yet, do so on a hill. Soon the kids will be rolling around, laughing, and getting a fantastic tactile and vestibular work out.
Sled in the Spring on Long Grass
No one says the vestibular and proprioceptive work out of zooming down a hill on a sled and racing back up for another run down has to be restricted to snowy seasons.
Spring time brings the opportunity for grass sledding. A large piece of cardboard and a relatively steep hill are all you need!
Long Grass Tips to Ponder
Be Sensitive to Various Sensory Needs
Be sensitive to different children’s sensory needs. What is ticklish to some is tortuous to others. What is a delightful aroma to some is an abhorrent odor to others.
Lure with fun, but allow lulls in activity if the potential for sensory overload becomes apparent.
Make precautionary accommodations with tactile avoiders, such as wearing thin gloves or longer sleeved and legs.
Be cognizant of the olfactory input of freshly cut or plucked grass and time activities accordingly.
Benefits of Lawn Care
Don’t forget the benefits of traditional lawn care tasks. Mowing, raking and bagging grass can all make for a worthwhile “natural” addition to sensory diets.
Let the Kids Cut the Grass
Novelty works wonders for young children. While adults attend to grown-up lawn care tasks, little ones can enjoy some motor coordination and development of scissor skills by literally cutting the grass. A pair of scissors and a challenge to cut the grass around rocks and gardens can make for an afternoon of fun.
Fill Up Sensory Bins
Add a seasonal twist to traditional sensory activities. Cut grass makes a no-cost filler for sensory tables and bins.
Check for Ticks
After working and playing in the grass, be sure to do a tick check. This can be an addition to the sensory diet. Have the children brush through the hair of their siblings with their fingers. Have them draw eyes and hands over clothing and skin in search of ticks sort of like a mini brushing session.
With an abundance of long grass this May, your sensory kids are sure to have loads of fun. In fact, they will be having so much fun, sensory avoiders may not even take note of their tactile sensitivities, thus helping to build a tolerance. The sensory seekers will certainly be in their glory as there is a ton of sensory input in the long grass activities we have shared. Have fun!