One day while I was cleaning the bathroom I realized the house was too quiet. I called out for my son- his response was wild laughter. I took off my gloves and walked down the hall to the living room. I turned a corner and almost passed out. My son was lying on the coffee table swimming in maple syrup! He looked at me, smiled and did the breaststroke. I watched in horror as tiny drops of maple syrup dripped off the table onto my carpet.
I never could understand my kids fascination with gooey things. Exasperated, I was to the point of putting locks on my refrigerator and cabinets when we learned that along with autism my son had Sensory Processing Disorder. Starting out, I had no idea if Sensory Integration Therapy would work, but I was desperate, so we decided to give it a try. To my surprise and delight, as time went by the messy “surprises” became less frequent.
Shaving Cream – Fun Sensory Play
When my kids were younger one of our favorite things to do was play with shaving cream. The trick to easy clean up for this activity is to do it in the bathtub. Shaving cream is water-soluble and will wash right off. We did this activity in the evening before bath time. It can also be done at a table using a large cookie sheet with a towel nearby for easy cleanup. I have an old towel that is my activity towel; I keep it nearby for all of my messy activities.
- Plain shaving cream
- Food coloring (if not allergic)
- Small plastic containers
- Large cookie sheet
- Toy cars
Begin by spreading a baseball size amount of shaving cream on the side of the bathtub. Allow the child to finger-paint with the shaving cream. If the child desires they may toe-paint as well. This can be very slippery! Make sure the child is sitting down then place both hands firmly under the child’s arms. Allow them to lean back and paint with their feet.
You can also easily toe paint outside. Place a cookie sheet with shaving cream on some grass. Have the child sit next to it as they paint with their toes. When it’s time to clean up, rinse off their feet with a hose and dry with your activity towel.
Shaving Cream Color Mixing
Fill two small plastic containers with a baseball size amount of shaving cream. Add two drops of food coloring and mix up, primary colors (red, yellow and blue) work best. Place the colors next to each other and allow the child to mix them and make a new color. Not for those allergic to dyes.
Shaving Cream Paints
Fill a couple of small plastic containers with a baseball size amount of shaving cream. Add two drops of food coloring and mix up. Your child can finger-paint with the colors or allow them to paint with paintbrushes, q-tips, cotton balls or sponges. Plastic dinosaurs, animals, action heroes or vehicles can be added to the shaving cream for more adventure.
By meeting my son’s sensory needs in a structured, consistent and organized way, I was able to protect my coffee table from future slathers with maple syrup.