Easter is here and the egg hunt is on! Easter usually means chocolate eggs and marshmallow bunnies, but if you're concerned about your child's sugar consumption, instead of hiding sugary treats in the Easter eggs, you can opt to hide small trinkets that can be used in a sensory activity to provide learning opportunities, not cavities.
Sensory play is a great way to get the kids at a calmer arousal level after the excitement of an Easter egg hunt. Sensory play can be calming and help with self-regulation, especially for children with sensory differences like children with autism spectrum disorder or Down syndrome.
After the Easter egg hunt, you can use the items found in the eggs to do an Easter-themed sensory bin activity or a sensory bag activity!
What to Hide In The Eggs
You can hide anything you want in the eggs (that will fit), as long as it relates to your sensory activity and matches your child’s abilities. For example, we made an Easter-themed sensory bin, so we’re going to hide:
- Bunny and chick trinkets that the kids can add to the sensory bin or find its match in the bin or bag
- Letters that the kids will have to match to the items in the sensory bin or bag
- Numbers that the kids will have to use to count items in the sensory bin or bag
With a little creativity, you can teach and practice concepts like:
- Numbers and counting
- Alphabet, spelling, and phonics
- New vocabulary (nouns, action words, description words, etc.)
- Patience/delayed gratification
- Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
- A bin for your activity
- Easter eggs that open and close
- Your desired trinkets to put inside the eggs and sensory bin - we went mainly with an Easter theme, but anything that motivates your child will work!
- A main sensory element - we used coloured rice from Little Dreamers
- Scoopers for the sensory bin (you can use Easter eggs, small bowls, scoopers, etc.)
- Sealable bags for the sensory bags (we recommend using a reusable one for durability and to minimize your carbon footprint)
Ways to play
Sensory play is typically child-led and open-ended, but you can get involved in the activity to facilitate learning as well.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Have your child help prepare the sensory bin or bag. You can use this opportunity to practice skills like following multiple-step instructions and sorting items and colours in preparation.
- Play "I Spy". This is a great game for improving the brain's executive functioning.
- Ask your child to match the letters they found in the eggs with the items in the bin. For example, if they have the letter B, they could choose the bunny, butterfly, or something blue.
- If your child found the number 3 in the eggs, ask your child to find 3 egg figurines.
- If your child found a bunny in the eggs, ask them to match or find all the other bunnies.
- Practice vocabulary:
- Ask your child how it feels. Does it feel soft? Hard? Good? What colours do they see?
- Narrate actions, label objects, and describe feelings and objects.
- Practice fine motor and coordination skills. For example, you can have your child pour rice from a bowl in one hand into a bowl in the other. You can even give your child tongs to manipulate the object
The possibilities are endless with sensory activities and it's so easy to customize it to the interests and skill level of your child. Remember to avoid "testing" or "quizzing" your child too much. Learning through play should feel natural and, of course, fun.