Since Scarlett has been attending a school that has a sensory diet in place to assist her with her sensory processing disorder, I have seen a marked improvement in her willingness to explore objects with her hands. This was always a massive barrier to Scarlett’s learning and development so I am very thankful that she is beginning to make progress in this area.
Her main love of Christmas is centred around the songs. She just adores all the jolly music pouring out of the shops, in school and at home. Scarlett regularly requests Christmas and I think this is partly down to her love of a musical Christmas. She is a fan of all of the reindeer songs that do the rounds in December and so I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to introduce some experiential learning.
The reindeer’s size and interesting texture, plus the fact that it moves, would not only be something very interesting for Scarlett to touch, but something completely different than what she has experienced before. I wanted to apply meaning to the word reindeer so that she would have a greater understanding of the song lyrics that she loves so much.
I contacted a local reindeer park in Chester called Tarvin Sands and asked if it would be possible for Scarlett to have a visit by herself to get up close to the reindeer. They were more than happy to accommodate Scarlett much to my delight!
Leading up to the trip I told Scarlett a variety of short stories about reindeer and what role they played at Christmas. There were times when she was reluctant to listen to the entirety of the story. Regardless of that, I repeated the tales each night as a way to get her brain thinking about the animals. I found this YouTube short story particularly well received as it included a nice instrumental of jingle bells in the background. But there are plenty on the internet for you to choose from! I sang a reindeer related song to her each night after the story to give Scarlett her little musical fix and it also rewarded her for listening!
On the way to Tarvin Sands we listened to reindeer based songs in the car and had a good old singalong! When we arrived she certainly had reindeer on the brain.
A lovely reindeer called Archie was there to greet Scarlett and she was very open to exploring him. She particularly enjoy him sniffing in her hands and repeated back to me the parts of the body she was touching. She became ever so excited when he began to move and gasped as she comprehended his size. I was amazed to see how happy she was to touch all the different parts of Archie and chuckled throughout the experience. It really was a pleasure to see. She even had a go at walking him and held onto to his lead as he walked around seeking more grass.
This was a fabulous experience for Scarlett and despite her not being able to relay to me verbally what benefits she got from exploring the animal we had discussed so much, her smile and her willingness to explore spoke volumes.
Read our other 12 Days of Christmas blogs here.