Inspiration / Speech Therapy
Is it just me, or does it seem as if every holiday becomes a reason for a full-blown sugar extravaganza? This year, we are thinking outside of the “egg” (pun intended) and bringing some creativity to your kids, instead of sugar. After all, they’re sweet enough! Some of these ideas are also great adventures for the siblings of our special needs kids. Let’s get the whole family involved! As speech therapists, you know we are always looking for ways to incorporate learning into fun outlets that our families can participate in together.
We recommend a two-fold approach in the effort to reduce sugar around the holidays – choose a few select treats that they love, and then get creative. Since Easter is coming up on Sunday, we have some ideas to help with your Easter baskets and Easter eggs.
First tip – location, location, location! We live in Hawaii, a.k.a. paradise, with beautiful warm weather, sunny skies (most of the time), and endless locations to gather together and have fun. Your Easter fun doesn’t need to be limited to your home or yard – le’ts take it to the beach, to the park, or get the neighborhood involved!
Second tip – with kids out of school for a long weekend, you can start some of these sensory games early & offer an “extended” Easter celebration!
SENSORY EASTER EGGS :: Involve all 5 senses when you’re having an egg hunt. Keep it light, fun and they won’t realize that they are learning.
Taste :: Keep these within reason so that your child doesn’t associate something they don’t like with a fun holiday.
- Fill eggs with different types of flavors – you can even use healthy treats in here! Something salty, sweet, sour, spicy, cheesy, etc in different eggs. Have your child describe the different flavors.
- Have your child help you fill some eggs (for their siblings or for mom & dad) based on flavor. Lay out the items and have them put something sweet in a green egg, something spicy in a red egg, etc. This involves multiple senses, which reinforces what you are working on.
Touch :: The sky is literally the limit with this category. As with taste, you can ask your kids to get involved in putting things in the eggs, or you can do it yourself and then as they open their eggs, work with them in describing what they are feeling. Blindfolds add a fun dimension & a new challenge. Here are some ideas to put in the eggs:
- A small stuffed animal
- Magnetic sand (this stuff is so much fun, you may need an egg for every member of the family)
- Colored rice
- A handkerchief or scarf
- A rubber ducky
- Rubber balls
- Silly putty
- Keep going…fill in the blanks. If it fits in an egg and they can feel it – have fun!
If you have time, take your basic plastic Easter eggs and glue / paint different textures onto them. Without looking, can they find the one that feels gritty (salt, glitter, etc)? Fuzzy (yarn or fleece wrapped over it)? Bumpy (puff paint polka dots)? Ridges (puff paint or yarn)?
Smell :: This sense can overlap with taste, but if you want to turn it into a family game, everyone can get involved. Don’t be surprised if the adults are the ones who get stumped! Get a dozen eggs (or more / less) and number them. In each egg, put a substance with a specific smell. It could be a cotton ball with an essential oil dripped on it, a flower, a food. Your goal is to find items with a strong smell. Just keep track of what you’ve put in each egg J
Gather the family around and get everyone involved in guessing what is in each egg – from smell alone. If you can’t smell them without opening the egg, pull out that blindfold again so there is no peeking or cheating. The family member who guesses the most correctly, wins a prize.
Sight :: This game starts before the kids even open their eggs and is a great way to teach focus. Don’t limit your plastic egg purchases to basic neon colors – you can find camouflage, animal prints, and so many other types of eggs now. When your kids go on their hunt, send them with a specific mission – find me a red egg with polka dots, a blue egg with a bunny on it, and a green egg with stripes. Adjust this based on your child’s skill level and age. For younger children, you can keep it simpler with a mission for 2 red eggs and a blue egg.
Sound :: This is another fun way to get the family involved in a learning exercise and improves auditory processing skills. Choose small objects made of different substances, such as glass rocks, coins, plastic toys, rice, sand, etc. Put them in the eggs and have your family shake, rattle & roll! Can they guess what is in each egg? The one who receives the most correct answers gets to choose a prize.
SPEECH / LANGUAGE THEMED EASTER EGGS ::
For older kids who are learning speech and language, why not offer them a challenge on the way to their Easter basket?
- Place a riddle in each of their eggs (with a single jelly bean?) and have them solve the riddles before they find out the location of the treasure – their basket.
- Place a clue or a riddle in each egg that leads them to the next egg – a treasure hunt with a purpose. It teaches speech and language skills, but also helps them with locations and focus.
- Purchase a plain puzzle with no picture on it. Create your own treasure map and glue it onto the puzzle. Then, place a single puzzle piece in each egg. When they find all their eggs and build the puzzle, they will have the map to find the “treasure” – their Easter basket, or a chocolate bunny or another favorite treat.
PRIZES – THINKING OUTSIDE THE EGG, OOPS, BOX ::
If your child has allergies or food issues, or maybe you are just conscious of their sugar intake, we encourage you to go beyond the typical grocery store shelves in your search for prizes that will excite. Below are a few ideas to get your juices flowing. You know your child – what treats excite them?
- Their favorite homemade treat (it doesn’t have to fit in an egg or basket!)
- A toy or stuffed animal
- Sidewalk chalk
- Toys for the beach
- A trip to the beach
- A book or game they’ve wanted
- An addition to a collection they may have
- If there are several children in the family, a date with mom or dad may be the gift they will remember for years.
- A musical instrument
- A new learning app for their computer or iPad
- If they are saving up for something special, a little extra money toward their goal
By incorporating what excites your child & gets them interested, this Easter can be a day to remember rather than a day of sugar-laden emotional meltdowns.
From all of us at Speech Solutions Hawaii, we are wishing you & your family a very Happy Easter season!