Fun Sensory Activities

More Craftwork for Your Young Child’s Valentine’s Day: Messy Paper Heart Doilies

A sponge-painted doily with a heart-shape cut out of it (allowed to dry, then pasted on construction paper)

A sponge-painted doily with a heart-shape cut out of it (allowed to dry, then pasted on construction paper)

In today’s airbrushed world, where so many things are made up of perfect lines and angles (I’m especially thinking of school and its hours of linear mark-making), sometimes we just need to have a little fun getting messily creative.

This is where the simple activity of exploring color on paper can allow young children the great experience of creative freedom. Here are three fun craft projects for Valentine’s Day. Each will take only minutes to make, and result in two decorative images: a colorful doily and a bonus valentine produced by using the doily as a stencil. Both creations can become the cover or the inside of a homemade card, or can be pasted on a paper plate as a Valentine’s Day decoration.

A second valentine is created in the sponging process. When the paint dries, help your child carefully remove the doily to magically reveal a “bonus” valentine!

A second valentine is created in the sponging process. When the paint dries, help your child carefully remove the doily to magically reveal a “bonus” valentine!

What you’ll need:

  • something to protect your tabletop (I used an old shower curtain liner)
  • A packet of doilies
  • red and white tempera paint, and other colors of your choice)
  • plain white paper (such as printer paper)

    Before you start, assemble your various materials.

    Before you start, assemble your various materials.

  • two small sponges (for applying the paint)
  • a jar of water (to dilute the paint)
  • cotton swabs (for mixing the paint)
  • paper towels
  • scissors
  • scotch tape
  • paste or a glue stick
  • construction paper or paper plates
Before this doily was sponge-painted, I folded it in half in order to cut out the three heart shapes.

Before this doily was sponge-painted, I folded it in half in order to cut out the three heart shapes.

To paint a doily, tape it on a sheet of white paper. Using both hands in the manner of Brain Gym’s Double Doodle Play*, dip the two sponges into the paint and start blotting on the color. I suggest doing the painting as a single process; your hands will stay clean as long as you don’t set the sponges down and pick them up again. Or have wet paper towels nearby for clean-up.

Allow for meandering and serendipitous mistakes!

I enjoyed using a marker in each hand to detail the edge of this bonus design—Double Doodle-style!

I enjoyed using a marker in each hand to detail the edge of this bonus design—Double Doodle-style!

 

You can trim around the edge or use your making pens to make it more interesting.

 

 

 

I folded a doily into eighths, then cut it as shown.

I folded a doily into eighths, then cut it as shown.

 

 

For a decorative card, I wanted to cut out a more elaborate design (see drawing at left and photos below).

The results of my folding and scissoring!

The results of my folding and scissoring!

 

 

 

 

I pasted the doily on a card, and embellished the card with heart scraps from previous cutouts—pasted only at the fold for a 3-D, butterfly effect.

I pasted the doily on a card, and embellished the card with heart scraps from previous cutouts—pasted only at the fold for a 3-D, butterfly effect.

 

For this one, I cut a scalloped edge around a bonus valentine and pasted it to a paper plate, which I then further decorated.

For this one, I cut a scalloped edge around a bonus valentine and pasted it to a paper plate, which I then further decorated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make a Paper Plate Decoration, I cut a scalloped edge around a bonus valentine and pasted it to a paper plate, which I then further decorated by trailing the creases with three different markers in turn—super fun! (This one looks great on the fridge at our house.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym® activities from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition by Dennison and Dennison, ©2010. The introductory course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision offers a full day of exploration built on mirror-image mark-making and painting. For the name of a Brain Gym instructor, see the Foundation website, below. For a Double Doodle Play instructor, click on the link and look up 105DD under courses.

© 2014 by Gail Dennison. All rights reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym® International/the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of an instructor near you.

I Spy

I Spy

Ages 5 and up

 HAP_Edu-Kinesthetics_I-Spy_fun

What You’ll Need:

Your eyes and at least one friend.

What You Do:

In this game, you take turns using your eyes to spot interesting things around you. When it’s your turn, pick something you can easily see, and say, “I spy, with my little eye, something . . . ” and then say what color it is and also say if it’s big or small, shiny, round, or any other words you want to use to describe it. For example: “I spy, with my little eye, something big and blue.” Your friends then look around and guess things in the room based on the color and other clues that you gave, until they find what it is that you spied. Each player can ask you three yes or no questions to help in the guessing. “Is it round? . . . Is it the big blue ball?”

What’s Happening:

You and your friends are practicing a visual skill called scanning, in which the thing you’re looking for “pops out” at you. We enjoy using our brain and eyes this way because we like to make a match between what we’re looking for and what we see.

If you want to scan more quickly, do the Brain Buttons and/or Lazy 8s activities, which can help your eyes to relax so they scan more smoothly. Then continue your game.

Soft Edges, from Vision Gym®

Soft Edges, from Vision Gym®

Ages 7 and up

 HAP_Edu-Kinesthetics_Soft-edges_fun

What You’ll Need:

Your eyes and hands and some curiosity.

What You Do:

Shake your hands in front of you (not too quickly!) until they feel relaxed. As you lightly blink, slowly move your fingers in front of your eyes, noticing their varied shapes against the light. Look first at your moving fingers, then through them at a shape or color that you notice in the distance. Let your eyes look in a soft way.

More advanced: Move your fingers gently in front of any tension in your eyes, as though “softening the edges” of the strain.

What’s Happening:

Blinking lubricates and relaxes the eyes. Looking at things that move gets the brain to pay attention and the eyes to refocus, which helps release tense eye muscles. Looking from near to far exercises the flexibility of the eyes and brain. And looking in a soft way like this helps you relax the staring habit and use more of your peripheral vision—the part of your seeing that takes in big chunks of information at once.

The Hole in the Hand Game

The Hole in the Hand Game

Ages 5 and up

 HAP_Edu-Kinesthetics_HOLE-IN-HAND_fun

Here’s a timeless game that can be relaxing to your eyes. Create an optical illusion that makes it seem as though you have a small round window through your hand.

What You’ll Need:

A tube large enough for you to stick two fingers inside (use a rolled sheet of paper or a cardboard tube).

What You Do:

With your right hand, hold the tube up to your right eye and look through it. Hold your left hand about six inches in front of your face, your palm facing toward you, and the base of your little finger against the side of the paper tube. With both eyes open, you should see something strange. You’ll see your hand in front of your face, with a hole going through it.

If you don’t, try moving your hand a little farther away until the hole comes into focus.

What’s Happening:

Usually your eyes see the same image from two slightly different angles. Your brain combines these two views to let you see the world in three dimensions and judge how far away things are. Because of the tube, your brain receives two different images, one from each eye. While one eye focuses on the near image—the palm of your left hand—the other eye focuses into the room through the tube.

When your brain is asked to take in two very different images, it has to “choose” which one to see. Since the sides of the tube block out much of your right eye’s view, you’ll mostly see the view from your left eye. Yet your brain will include in its attention the circular image that your right eye is seeing through the tube. As your brain merges the two images into one, your hand will appear to have a hole in it.

Don’t See the Hole in Your Hand?

Do the Brain Buttons and Lazy 8s activities, then play the game again.

This game has been used in the Visioncircles course since 1987.

The Star in the Apple

The Star in the Apple

Ages 8 and up, with adult help

 HAP_Edu-Kinesthetics_Star-Apple_fun

The Apple Star

Take an apple round and red.

Don’t slice down,

slice through instead.

Right inside it you will see

a star as pretty as can be!

            —Author unknown

What You’ll Need:

One whole apple and a knife to cut it with.

What You Do:

Set the apple on its side on a plate or other flat surface and very carefully slice it down the middle. As the apple falls into two pieces, notice the star on each of them. (Be sure to cut the apple horizontally, because if you cut it vertically—stem to stern—you won’t find any star.)

 What’s Happening:

You’re discovering one of the countless lovely designs in nature. How many others can you find?

To read (and follow along with) a participation story about the apple star, see “The Little Red House”on page 113, along with other great Brain Gym games, in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, 2010.

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