Monday, February 24, 2014

Play Therapy Supplies

One of the things I enjoy most about mental health counseling with kids is that I get to do play therapy. I love having activities for the kids to do when I show up because I believe that a child's work is play (as the famous Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori have pointed out) and that through this play they learn a lot about themselves and the world. That being said I have spent the last year or so gathering up play therapy items. I wanted to share some of them with you because they are so easy to acquire (you might already have some at your home) and so easy to use. Yesterday I actually spent some time assembling some different sensory/sand trays.

Sand trays are the backbone of many play therapy techniques and can be used in a lot of ways. I wanted to make two sand trays: one "traditional" and one sensory. The sensory one has cloud dough in it which has a wonderful, soft texture but also allows for some sculpting and building. Here's how I got my trays ready.

First I picked up some lock top boxes from Wal-Mart (about $4 each).
To one box I added 3 boxes of cheap cake mix.
This is what cloud dough is! You can also make it with flour and vegetable oil but for less than $1 a box this was the easiest and cheapest way to make it.
Cloud dough is lots of fun. It feels awesome and it has some mold-able properties to it.

The only thing I would suggest is using some wet wipes when you are finished. Even after brushing my hands off there was quite a bit of residue left.
After that I popped the top on and I'm ready to go!
The cloud dough box can be used with young kids for exploring textures and for imaginative play. I will use it in a way somewhat similar to a sand tray and will probably put some figures in it for my kids to act out or create scenes in. Sensory play is really important for kids with autism and ADHD because of its soothing effects and exploratory properties. The feel of cloud dough makes it a great sensory play tool!

Later this week I will show you how I made my "traditional" sand tray with some not so traditional items.

In full disclosure I'm not a certified play therapist. I do use play therapy techniques frequently at my job and I receive supervision on a regular basis. If you are interested in learning more about play therapy or finding a fully licensed and registered play therapist check out this website.

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