Sensational Snowman - Part 1

Thursday, February 10, 2011

As winter approached, I noticed the go-to plot development in children's programming became building a snowman.  Bear picked up on this from the first winter themed Caillou rerun and started demanding that we build a snowman before the first flurries stuck to the grass.

Of course we take advantage of our snowy sensory wonderland and have fun outside whenever possible, but as Patty pointed out, when you live in the Midwest it's not always in the cards.  -20 days (and my SPD kiddo who generally can't handle wind no matter the temp) means an awful lot of time stuck indoors.

Since building a snowman was what Bear wanted, one recent frigid afternoon I decided that's what we would do.  I looked for every possible way to work a little of his sensory diet into the paper snowman fun.  It was such a hit with Bear I decided to share it here.

My favorite part about this activity is that there are lots of natural breaking points, so you can choose to do it all at once or in sections, depending on your child's attention span.

Uuum, yes. I'm this nuts.

Basic Supplies
- large paper
- glue
- tape
- if no optional supplies on hand, markers or crayons to create decorative elements

Optional Supplies
- puff balls
- felt
- googly eyes

We were lucky enough to score a giant roll of paper from a friend who was discontinuing an eBay business and no longer needed it as packing material.  Easel paper is what we used to use (we get our easel paper at Ikea for about $5 a roll).  I also just learned you can ask your local newspaper office for the end rolls of newsprint - apparently they give it away for free.  

We also love the giant roll because it weighs a ton and Bear gets a little heavy work rolling it out.

Obviously you need 3 pieces of paper sized small, medium and large.

- if your child is capable, let them determine the sizes (Bear's not there yet)
- if your child needs the input, let them tear the sheets off by hand
- if your child needs the fine motor and/or grip practice (like Bear), let them cut with scissors

Bear's OT recently suggested we draw lines for him to practice cutting on, so that's how we went with it.

Next step is a classic sensory diet staple: crumpling up paper.  Let them get it out of their system, and then you'll need to help a bit.

- crumple the paper around your hand to help create a flat front (for later decorating)
- tape the crumpled back end so the whole thing stays put

Time to break out the glue.  Squeezing the glue bottle is a nice input, so I resist my urge to control the situation and simply cover the whole table with paper so he can glue to his heart's content.

The glue needs to dry, so this is an ideal breaking point.  The first time we made one we did this half before lunch, and the glue was dry enough to move on after we'd eaten.

For us, it was also important to verbally prepare him for the break (he really wanted to glue eyes on and talked about it the whole time).  I also discovered it was really dumb to let him see the craft box before we were ready for its contents, because he was so focused on the puff balls, googly eyes and pipe cleaners it was hard to keep him on task.

We learned easiest way to keep the paper balls together in snowman form while the glue dries was to tape the whole thing together.  We used a tape that removed easily since it's no longer necessary after the glue dries.

You'll have to use your judgment on the taping.  Obviously it's a nice tactile and fine motor exercise.  Bear wanted to help so badly we let him try, but for us it would have been better if we'd just let him squeeze glue and then quietly taped it after he transitioned to something else.  As it was, this was how we ended this part of the project.