Squishing, rolling, pulling, creating… children of all ages enjoy playing with playDough. In addition to being fun, PlayDough has multiple developmental benefits. Our homemade dough feels and smells amazing – making it a simple and natural stress relieving mindfulness tool.
What are the benefits?
Squishing and pulling PlayDough can increase fine motor skills. It strengthens the muscles in the fingers that are needed to climb an aerial hammock or hold a pencil at school. Manipulating PlayDough helps children develop hand-eye coordination. Rolling and pressing PlayDough into cookie cutters provides deep pressure to the joints, which enhances one of our hidden senses called proprioception.
How to Make Amazing Dough.
To start, add the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl.
Stir with an electric mixer.
Combine the essential oil of choice with the vegetable oil and mix into the dry ingredients.
Bring your water to a boil. Add any food coloring to the boiling water.
While stirring with an electric mixer, slowly add the water to the dry ingredients.
Continue to mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Next, shake in a little glitter, but not too much or it won’t stick together.
Knead the dough until smooth.
Store your dough in an air-tight container.
At Mindful Child, we make mindfulness and social emotional learning fun. We’d love to have your child hang out with us in a camp or class
Increasingly, science is uncovering the value of one of the most fundamental forms of movement – climbing. Kids and adults don’t just love climbing for the challenge – there are developmental reasons that attract kids to it. Climbing actually plays a role in children’s mental and physical development. In addition to all the physical benefits, it has been shown to improve creativity, memory, and critical thinking abilities.
Here are a few benefits of a climbing wall:
A climbing wall enhances problem-solving and decision-making skills. Ascending a climbing route is like putting together a puzzle. Each move requires a decision-making process. Where do I go? What is the best route to get there? Learning to solve problems and think for yourself in the moment (without the help of a glossary or google) is part of learning to make smart decisions, which is a skill set that helps kids in everyday situations.
It provides sensory input and improves memory. Psychologists from the University of North Florida found that “proprioceptively dynamic activities like climbing” can significantly improve executive functioning, especially memory. Executive function is important not just for cognitive processing of information, but for behavioral regulation. The study showed that two hours after climbing, participants’ capacity for working memory had increased by 50 percent. WOW!
Climbing develops spatial awareness and motor skills. Not only does climbing build spatial and directional awareness, but it also boosts physical skills such as balance, hand and foot coordination, and agility. When children use both their hands and feet to maneuver varying inclines and distances between climbing holds, it enhances children’s proprioception, the ability to sense one’s own body’s position and movement in space.
It promotes healthy choices and a growth mindset. Overcoming challenges and fear is fundamental to being successful. Encouraging kids to leave their comfort zone, keep trying in the face of failure, and to face their fears helps them to see challenges as opportunities to grow. Challenging situations teach children to believe in themselves.
Climbing develops focus and concentration. Climbing requires attention to task, focus, and discipline to succeed. There is no multitasking when you’re balanced on a narrow foothold trying to find the best route to the top of the wall. No matter what is going on around them, children must stay present and mindful when climbing, by focusing their attention on their hand and footholds. This builds the mind-body connection (how the movement of the body affects the development of the brain).
Climbing is fun. Kids love a good physical and mental challenge. If you throw in a fun bell to ring when they reach the top they may never leave…
Climbing a wall or aerial yoga hammock is a challenge. It promotes agility, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular endurance. We change the hand and foot hold patterns on our climbing wall, which adds a cognitive challenge. The cognitive challenge enhances executive function and builds a growth mindset making it a wonderful addition to our amazing Mindful Child Aerial Yoga Classes.
Alloway, R. G., & Alloway, T. P. (2015). The Working Memory Benefits of Proprioceptively Demanding Training: A Pilot Study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 120(3), 766–775. https://doi.org/10.2466/22.PMS.120v18x1
Emami Kashfi, T., Sohrabi, M., Saberi Kakhki, A., Mashhadi, A., & Jabbari Nooghabi, M. (2019). Effects of a Motor Intervention Program on Motor Skills and Executive Functions in Children With Learning Disabilities. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 126(3), 477–498. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512519836811
Believe it or not, movements such as climbing, are essential to cognitive functioning. Movement integrates new information and experiences into children’s brains. Children not only build their brains when they are moving, but they build the muscles they need to sit in a chair and write. Allowing children time to engage in unstructured play is essential to their development. When a child is playing, they are producing endorphins (brain chemicals that make us happy). Thus, unstructured play develops your child’s muscles, sensory systems, and their brains, making it the foundation that complex learning is built on.
Here are a few activities that are full of therapeutic benefits
and easy to fit into your child’s day:
Swinging is not only relaxing, but it builds core strength and motor coordination. When your child spins in a swing they are
engaging different parts of the brain at the same time. These areas in the
brain are associated with learning skills such as spatial awareness,
rhythm, timing, balance, and muscle control.
Climbing. When children are climbing, they are
stretching their arms upwards, which enhances cardiovascular flow and
flexibility. Additionally, climbing
builds upper body strength and coordination
Running builds strength in the legs, endurance, and provides sensory
With screen time and school taking time away from unstructured play, children do not have as much time to engage in healthy movement activities. This is detrimental to their development and learning. It is important to try to spend at least an hour a day letting children engage in movement-based activities. If possible, give them time to engage in unstructured play, this allows them to seek out the movement their bodies need, which is a form of self-regulation.
At Mindful Child, we allow unstructured play in our aerial hammocks for at least 15 minutes of every aerial yoga class. Children are able to climb, spin, and swing in our hammocks, providing them the movement their bodies and brains need for healthy development.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children