The Importance of Indoor Play

By: Simran Saroya

Sometimes we feel that it is easy to hand our children the iPad or phone to keep them occupied. Even on a snow day or a rainy day there are ways to make these situations positive interactions. Giving them a phone or tablet is easy but not the most interesting choice for your child. Indoor play can consist of more stimulating, fun and active play that will help your child’s brain develop.

When we think about indoor play, we talk about roleplaying, games and engagement opportunities. If you are baking cookies, having the child present and engaged is a form of play for them where they can use their senses and create something new. When thinking about play we should consider all five senses: look, listen, touch, smell and taste. Where can my child use these five senses with me?

Through play children are able to create healthy brain architecture which allows them to have better peer social interactions, use their imagination and creativity and engage with the world around them. Play is so important for children; it is the foundation to all the learning that is going to happen here on forward.  Play can also strengthen physical, emotional and cognitive strength within the child.

Now indoor play, how do you play inside on a rainy day or a day where the outdoors is not easily accessible? Here is a list of things you can do indoors with your child!

  1. Board games
  2. Scavenger hunt
  3. Make slime!
  4. Cook with your child (cookies, jello, rice krispies, or even prep for dinner)
  5. Read stories
  6. Visit an indoor play place (Telus Spark, Glenbow, swimming, Calgary public library)

Let your child take the lead and have them decide what they would like to do indoors with you or with a friend. This way the child feels a sense of independence in choosing an activity or game. Children create and preserve friendships through play therefore indoor and outdoor play are both essential in a child’s growth and development.

Understanding the benefits in your child’s play can be a bit confusing. Play fosters cognitive growth meaning that is essential for healthy brain development. Sometimes we believe that play must have a goal behind it, a structure to it. In reality, free play positively affects neurological connections by making those circuits in the brain stronger. Free play will allow your child to build communication skills, self-confidence and intelligence. Through play children become less anxious and more resilient to deal with real life situations. Once the adults in the child’s life understand how important it is to play, the child will benefit and the adults will benefit. Promoting play as quality time spent indoors will strengthen your relationship with your child and allow for meaning making and a world of connections to be brought to the table. It is amazing what their little minds can come up with!

Story Cubes: A Play Based Learning Opportunity

By: Stephanie Magnussen

At Connecting Dots, the therapists are skilled at creating play based learning activities based on the individual child’s needs.  When learning is play based, the child looks forward to sessions with the therapists and this excitement makes it easier for the child to be engaged in the activity.  Based on each individual’s contract, the therapists will work with the child a few times each month.  I work as an aide, and am therefore with the clients and families multiple times a week, enacting the therapists’ and family’s goals through creative and play based approaches.  I was looking for a game for one of my clients that promoted long sentences, complex ideas, and smooth speech when I found Story Cubes.  Story Cubes are affordable and fun and have been working really well with my clients!

Story Cubes are a set of nine, six-sided dice that have an image on each side.  Each player rolls three to four dice at a time and has to create a story based on the images.  When I use it with my clients, I have a sheet of paper next to us that has the important elements of a story: Plot, Setting, Characters, Conflict, Solution, and Theme.  Based on the developmental goals of the child, theme is optional to include as it can be abstract.  In the first roll, player one must create the setting and identify the main character.  The second roll introduces more characters, and expands on the plot.  The conflict is introduced between the second to fourth roll and the solution is achieved in the fourth to eighth roll.  Of course there can be as many rolls as one likes, but I find that kids can get distracted by too many details, and the stories make more sense when there are six to eight story turns total.  After ever two turns, I refer back to the piece of paper that has the list of important story details and the child recounts what has happened so far and identifies each of the major components of our story.  If I am trying to promote smooth, clear speech with my client, I keep a tally of all of the smooth sentences that are over eight words that my client has said.  I involve the client in this, so it isn’t anxiety provoking for him or her.  I’ll say things like, “Wow!  That was a really smooth sentence!  I think you should make a tally on the smooth sentence side,” or “Take a deep breath before you start your next sentence because it is going to be a long one!”  After a few sessions, I can see the progress of smooth versus bumpy sentences during story cubes when comparing the smooth vs. bumpy tallies.  For older children and when appropriate, after the game is finished, I ask what the theme of our story was.  It is always so interesting to see how creative kids can be and it makes for more speech opportunities to give the client the chance to describe the theme.

Story Cubes have been a great tool to use with my clients because it also allows them to be creative and silly.  It promotes organized thinking because although it is a free flowing game, certain components of the story have to be identified by certain rolls.  Also, the child can’t just create a nonsensical story.  I make sure to check in with him or her after ever two turns so that they have a clear understanding of what is happening in the story and what needs to happen to reach a resolution.  I make sure to remind each client before his or her turn to take a breath and think about what they are going to say and how each story cube will relate back to the story itself.  This has been a great game for kids that are having trouble expanding on ideas, creative writing, are exhibiting non fluent speech, or need help organizing their thoughts or with memory.  I bought mine at Wal-Mart, but there are lots of options on amazon.ca as well!

 

BUY: https://www.amazon.ca/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=rory%27s+story+cubes+actions&tag=googcana-20&index=aps&hvadid=208374709405&hvpos=1t1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10784001746003414714&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9001318&hvtargid=kwd-301462617545&ref=pd_sl_5xic1vikrd_b