Baby Boo

What is Sensory Play? Will my baby like it?

You may be shy to ask “what is sensory play?” but it’s a great question and I will try to answer it in this blog.

Babies arrive in to the world with a huge brain all ready to leap into action, but they are a blank slate in terms of experiences. Sensory play is a way to start introducing the world of sensations and experiences to your baby in preparation for childhood where their learning takes more sophisticated paths.

Will my baby like it? – yes!

Babies love discovering new sensations, and the aim of a sensory play session is to introduce a wide variety of objects and sensations for your baby to explore. There are endless possibilities – sights, smells, sounds, textures and colours are all around us all the time, simple things such as glittery pan scrubs are lots of fun especially if you don’t have to do the washing up!

What are the benefits of sensory play ? It’s all to do with brain development every time we have a new experience a little physical connection is made within the brain filed away for future reference, it’s how we begin to learn what is safe , pleasurable, dangerous or maybe just a bit uncomfortable. The more of these experiences we can get during our early years the better for our confidence, well-being and enjoyment of being in the world later in life.

What happens in the sensory play session?

The sensory play session is very informal, here at The Boo we have rethought our layout and now have individual mats for each baby and parent/carer which can be socially distanced in the main theatre. Each place has a variety of small objects to offer to your baby.

We create a warm and relaxed environment, with soft lighting and music and the babies can enjoy taking their time to explore and play with the objects. It’s a great opportunity to have focussed play time with your baby, we start to see the world through their fresh eyes and ears. The objects lose their everyday function and become a set of interesting shapes, colours, textures and movements.

We begin to realise that even the simplest items are new and fascinating to babies – after all this may be their first encounter with a nail brush, or a bracelet, or a scrunchie and alongside that we adults start to discover new ways to play with these simple objects to bring them alive. Can we make an noise with a nail brush? Twizzle the bracelet like a gyroscope? Ping the scrunchie into the air? Yes to all those questions and many more possibilities too!

Baby Boo sessions will be re-launching in the New Year after current lockdown restrictions have eased. Please join me!

Places can be booked through The Boo’s website – sessions are free of charge but must be booked in advance.

Adventures of Pom, Baby Boo

The Adventures of Pom in Todmorden

I have recently taken over performing The Adventures of Pom from Ruth Boycott-Garnett. Ruth created the show in 2015 as a commission from Big Imaginations network. The story is inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone (Pom in our version) and takes us through the seasons, into the underworld and back to being reunited with Mum. All told in 30 minutes and with plenty of time and space for the children to mingle, interact and join in to play at the end. There are lots of sensory objects to handle; woolly hats, bright crystals, fruit and vegetables – knitted, wooden and real!

And last but not least we have Pom!

Young children meeting a puppet of a young girl. Ruth Boycott-Garnett

These photos were taken from my debut performance at Castle Hill Nursery in Todmorden as part of Todmorden Book Festival. It was a delight to perform to the 2 and 3 year olds, they were very engaged and attentive, here two children are meeting Pom who is the same size as them!

Many thanks to Catherine Browne and Ruth Boycott – Garnett for the photos and for their help on the day.

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Autumn – “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”

Also the season of pumpkin lanterns, colourful leaves, wet and windy weather and…. half term !! I just spent this half term week visiting The Zone in Rawtenstall, Maden Centre in Bacup and Haslingden Nursery Centre in, yes you got it Haslingden with a range of Autumn inspired activities. These three small towns are right on my doorstep and sit snugly in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire.

My theme – Light and Dark, shadows, autumn aromas.

I offered a variety of activities suitable for a range of ages from babies through to 7-8 years. A sensory play mat for babies through to 3 – 4 years, for older children there were table top crafts; collage, paper tearing, creating jack o’ lanterns and silhouettes that could be used in the shadow play area. Finally there were the raw state spices and oranges giving off lovely warm autumnal aromas.

Many thanks to Liz Charles, Mohammed Parvez, Michaela and all the staff and volunteers at the Rossendale Children and Family Wellbeing Service for their help during the week.

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Sensory time is social time too

Here we have a variety of textures, from pan scrubs to table mats, a nest of raffia and naturally smoothed drift wood, the natural shades enhanced by citrus orange, yellow and green colours. The light, floaty chiffon scarves are always fun.. some things we can see through! What else can we experience when playing with these ‘ordinary’ objects? …how light or how heavy is it ? what is the structure? – is it woven together or loose and stringy ?- is it springy or elastic ? – the hair scrunchy can ping through the air!

All this while enjoying the company of other babies and their mums.

These snaps were taken at Burnley Wood Nursery Centre, Burnley as part of my outreach programme for The Boo Theatre.

You can join me every first Tuesday of the month at The Boo Theatre for more open play, the session is free of charge, drop in between 10 – 12 am.

3rd September, 1st October, 5th November, 3rd December 2019

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A sunny day and the garden beckons..

My outreach session on Thursday was in the Burnley Wood Children’s Centre, Burnley. A large well equipped room opened out onto this lovely garden. It was too much to resist! It so happened that I had a lot of natural objects which fitted well in the garden context.

There was free movement from indoors to outdoors and plenty of activity at the craft table as well as lively episodes of bubble chasing outside.

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Taking the beads for a walk

It seems a popular way to play with the knotted beads, go for a walk while trailing them behind. They clatter and swing around and sooner or later wrap around your feet and trip you up. Quite a few children in different sessions have played in this way with the beads exploring the lively unpredictability almost as if they are being chased by them.