Jenny Clark

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Jenny Clark

Jenny L. Clark, OTR/L

  • Professional Development Seminars
  • Pediatric Occupational Therapist
  • Certified Kids Yoga Teacher

Integrating the Senses: Valentine’s Day Theme Activities

In this podcast, Jenny shares some fun Valentine’s Day activities that help to integrate the senses. Activities that incorporate the seven senses, especially vestibular and proprioception, help to facilitate sensory integration, which contributes to a child’s ability to concentrate, organize, have self-confidence, and good academic ability.   

We have seven sensory systems which coordinate in synchrony to help with developing a child’s motor skills, language, emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning. The sensory systems include two hidden sensory systems; the vestibular system and the proprioception system and the basic five; touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. The vestibular system registers head movement in space and has several functions, including facilitating balance and helping a child with maintaining posture. The proprioception system is stimulated during heavy work that causes the muscles to contract or stretch. When a child’s nervous system gets enough proprioception input, the brain sends out neurochemicals called endorphins, which produce an overall calm alertness, helping the child to focus and feel emotional well-being. Activities that incorporate the seven senses, especially vestibular and proprioception, will help to facilitate sensory integration, which contributes to a child’s ability to concentrate, organize, have self-confidence, and good academic ability.   

I would like to share with you some fun Valentine’s Day activities that help to integrate the senses.

  • For Vestibular and proprioception input: Cut out red or pink paper hearts. On each heart, write a locomotor action, such as gallop, march, bear walk, crab walk, jumping jacks. Have the child pick a heart and perform the action. Older children can practice reading skills. You can also work on directional concepts and prepositions by having objects the children move around/under/between/over.
  • Add other senses to the activity.
    • For the sense of smell have scratch and sniff stickers on the hearts for the children to smell
    • For the sense of touch glue different textures to the paper hearts, such as sandpaper, bubble wrap, Velcro, and fabric
    • For the sense of sight, dim the lights in the room and turn on a glow lamp during the activity to create a calmer space.
    • For the sense of hearing play music in the background. The children can practice following directions by moving when the music plays and stopping when the music stops, then moving again when the music starts again. This also helps with impulse control.
  • Let’s finish with a simple and fun fine motor activity for Valentine’s Day. Draw a heart shape about 10” on a piece of aluminum foil. Have the child trace over the heart shape with a marker. If the child can draw a heart shape, have them draw the heart on the aluminum foil. Using either red or pink construction paper or tissue paper, have the child tear small pieces about 1” and glue inside the heart shape on the aluminum foil. This activity develops finger strength, pincer grasp, bilateral coordination skills, and visual motor skills.