Jelly Dig

Children may be priceless but they do cost a lot of money to raise. It’s worth it of course, but there are a lot of unnecessary costs that can be eliminated with a little creative thinking. After her surgeries Wilhelmina required occupational therapy, something she’s still undergoing, and we try very hard to facilitate her recovery and adjustment at home. We simply don’t have a lot of cash to buy every toy, game, or attend expensive classes and activities so we try to be creative with what we’ve got.

One of the downsides of her surgeries was increased sensitivity in her fingers. Basically the scar tissue hurt and was super sensitive to touch, especially when things went between her fingers- a space that didn’t exist before her surgeries. It was important to desensitise this scar tissue and get her to be comfortable with things passing through her fingers. I decided to implement some sensory games, beneficial to any toddler but especially for our little girl.

This first attempt was rather fun but is really better suited to warm weather (it’s Winter here at the moment). I set some of Willa’s Duplo farm animals (they were mine when I was a kid!) in jelly and encouraged her to dig them out with her hands. She was hesitant at first but with a little modelling by Mum she was soon digging in. We used spoons when the jelly got too cold. The benefits of jelly are its soft texture, translucency (i.e. she could see the toys below the surface), temperature difference (another sensory experience), and it’s safe to eat. After she recovered an animal we washed it in a bowl of water. Water is something she is very comfortable with and provided a nice contrast to the jelly.

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This activity had her stretching and grasping with her fingers, exploring depth and texture, exposed her to temperature differences, and allowed a substance to pass gently between her fingers desensitising the scar tissue. Pretty good for the cost of a packet of jelly crystals. You could also replicate this activity by burying some small toys in rice or beans and getting your toddler to dig them out. This would be more appropriate for cold weather but may require some additional encouragement to dig as they will not be able to see the buried toys.

Homemade toys have a long history, who hasn’t drummed on saucepans with a wooden spoon?! What are your most successful toy or activity inventions?

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