5 Reasons why you should attend a First Senses Baby Massage Course

Once your baby has arrived and you’re settled (well as can be expected) you may decide you want to attend a class with your new baby. Look no further than baby massage. It has so many benefits for babies, small babies too which will last right through their childhood. You’re thinking baby massage? What is baby massage?

Baby massage is a 4 week program which uses a series of strokes, gentle movements and holds to provide your baby with a full body massage. There are so many benefits for baby but also for you as a caregiver and is a great way to bond with your new baby. Touch is powerful and is a powerful tool which can be used with babies to support many ailments. Baby massage enables communication and connection through nurturing touch – benefiting the psychological and physiological development of baby.

1.) Quality Time – our classes allow you to spend one on one time with your baby uninterrupted for one hour allows you to focus all your energy solely on your baby.

2.) Relief from ailments – Did you know massage can have many benefits for not only you but your baby. For example massage can support with troubles such as wind, colic and constipation. Also support with congestion and teething pain.

3.) Bonding and attachment – It takes time for all parents to learn how their baby communicates. Touch is the first form of communication and  it allows parents to understand their babies wants, needs, likes and dislikes. The early stages of parenting can be the most challenging and lonely.  Getting out of the house and attending  class can make all the difference to some parents and often be the thing needed to break the cycle of depression. Oxytocin the hormone which is produced when massaging babies, benefits both baby and parent and those near by, helping everyone to feel calm and relaxed.

4.) Social – Our classes provide families with the chance to meet other parents and share experiences of parenting with babies of a similar age, in a safe non-judgmental environment. A great way to make new friends.

5.) Supports children’s learning and development – Massaging your baby strengthens and tones their muscles. Baby massage is a great way to support babies to reach their developmental milestones by building muscle strength so they can learn to roll over, sit up and crawl. Also massage helps aid baby’s early communication. Through the introduction of songs and rhymes we are able to enhance the experience for babies. Singing stimulates babies early language development, aiding communication between baby and parent and being part of a group helps babies to develop their social skills.

Want to find out more information? Contact us for times, dates and locations of our next courses.


How to Create an Affordable Mud Kitchen

How to Create an affordable mud kitchen

Here’s our ‘How To’ guide to help you create an affordable mud kitchen for your little ones.

Mud kitchens provide so much more than your average “soil digging” experience. A mud kitchen provides a variety of elements such as a much loved domestic and cooking area, all of which are enriched by purely being outside! Mud kitchens are great also because they can be used all year and in all weathers.

Remember they don’t need to be fancy or expensive. There is nothing simpler than creating a kitchen using old kitchen items from friends, family or even our local charity shops.

Choose the location

Firstly find a suitable location in your garden. It needs to have ample supply of basic materials such as sand, water and mud. Offering both sand and mud provides a great contrast in colour and texture which is great when they’re mixing those mud pies together. Being located near a sand pit/ mud patch may give the kitchen more meaning but even big pots of these materials are perfect too as long as they are floor level.

Mud kitchens which have walls/ fences provide the opportunity to hang your resources such as utensils/ hanging pots or just even having them on a shelf make it feel more like a kitchen and better to use. A cosy corner just creates a room like environment that feels safe. Research suggests this is good for creating dramatic play.

A water supply is essential but does not need to be in the kitchen or even close by. Children love nothing more than transporting water using a variety of containers. It’s important here to make sure you do provide a variety of containers (different shapes and sizes) and have a water source, such as an outdoor tap/hose/water butt or a large container of water.

Gravel, pebbles and other natural materials are also a great companion for making in your mud kitchens.

Plants are also an important part of a mud kitchen. These can be taken from anywhere as long as children have the permission to pick and gather.

Make sure the space feels comfortable for the amount of children who will be using the kitchen. Having space for several children to work alongside each other is ample. Large open plan kitchen areas may create more boisterous actions.

Enclosure from fences/walls can create a good mud kitchen feel.

Working surfaces are a crucial aspect of a mud kitchen. Remember to make sure these are the right height for the children and provide enough space work at.

Remember to consider where the old mixed material is going after use in the kitchen.

Fitting Out Your Kitchen

Fitting out your kitchen can be simply done by using old kitchen items from your own home. Make sure you have something that will be the cooker (using an old microwave) can be very effective provides children with buttons and the opportunity to open and close doors.

A good selection of pots and pans, jugs, funnels and bakeware. This will provide children with endless opportunities in their creations.

Plenty of bowls and containers such as jelly moulds/ice cube trays.

Enhancements suitable for occasions such as adding food colouring to water or essence to provide a new smells.

A big washing up bowl usually sunk into a work surface is a very helpful part of the play and great for washing their hands afterwards.

Keeping it safe and healthy

First foremost children must be kept safe whilst they have access to these important experiences. Our role is to ensure we manage their play safely.

Contact with soil is beneficial for children as the bacteria in it can help build healthy, functioning immune systems in young children.

Soil can however carry harmful pathogens and care to ensure contamination from cat/dog faeces is extremely important. Using a purchased loam topsoil rather than using soil from your backyard is beneficial and will reduce the risk. These can be purchased from any nursery/garden centre.

Handwashing is an essential aspect of playing in this way. Make sure this is established as a routine when initially setting up your mud kitchen.

Make sure children stay warm and comfortable as mud kitchen play is usually a wet experience. Having waterproof clothing for cooler weather and well in the warm weather its up to you.

Remember it doesn’t have to be expensive! Just have fun!

Written by Emma Weir


5 Reasons why you should let your child get messy with food

Introductions

Hi there I’m Emma and I’ve been working in the Early Years Sector for over 18 years and have a wealth of experience when it comes to sensory play, fussy eaters and getting messy! I even have a BA in Early Years too! Originally from the UK, I’ve been right here in Adelaide for the last 3 years delivering my own messy play business.

If you’d like to get to know more about me head over to my “Hi there, I’m Emma” blog post.

First Senses was created back in the UK and came from my working in local communities in the UK and this was always a pack away session we delivered to the wider community to engage families and spread the awareness of the benefits of sensory play for young children. (It’s been around a long time, for sure!)

Hi, my name is Jessica (but I’m more of a Jess!). I am a qualified and vastly experienced Food and Nutrition/Home Economics teacher. I have a first class Honours Degree (Bachelor of Science) in ‘Food, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences’. I also have a Post Grad Certificate of Education. I have spent my entire life submerged in the food industry in various ways, I was brought up on a chocolate farm no less! I am from Wales, U.K and ADORE Adelaide, which is now home for me and my young family!

If you want to know more about me, my credentials, my background in the food industry and have a fun read – head over to my “Meet me” blog!

Cook n Create has been born from my love and passion for food, nutrition and cooking combined with my enthusiasm for teaching and enriching the minds of children, of all ages!

I LOVE working with kiddies and helping them ignite sparks of passion and watching their cognitive development progress and their skills being built and refined whilst having a truly great time!  I see this as a real privilege. All Cook n Create sessions have been designed to ensure that EVERY child can access the learning and can thrive.

Working with children and teaching them to cook, to enjoy food and to have fun with food is my passion! 

So, why is this collaboration so amazing?

Individually we have a oodles of expertise and experience, we are masters of our trades and we are in love with what we get to do! Together, we hope to really blow you away and convert you to the messy side! So.. let’s do this!

Sensory activities facilitate exploration and builds your child’s creativity and imagination. It naturally encourages children to use scientific process while they play, create, investigate, and explore their surroundings. If children are allowed to explore textures and sensations outside of their comfort zones and at their own pace it develops a trust and understanding of their senses and helps to build positive pathways into the brain which let them know that it is safe to engage with this food. Over time, if children are allowed to engage in different activities with a range of different textures/feels they will build a foundation of knowledge that will last a lifetime! 

“I feel that by giving a child ownership of their learning, you are creating a love for learning, so deep that they naturally strive to learn more and reach for the next milestone. It is so empowering for children to see their brilliant ideas come to fruition” Jess

1. It enhances their physical, mental and creative development (This is our no1 because.. it’s SUCH a big deal!)

Physical– This includes: Fine motor skills, pincer grasp, building small muscles, finite skills, eating, hand eye coordination. Gross motor skills – involves larger muscles, so mixing, whisking, cutting, stirring, pouring etc – these are all ways in which children are experimenting and discovering as well as developing physically. 

Mental and emotional development– Focus, concentration, numeracy. It is important for emotional skills and helps to develop self control and emotional regulation. Allowing your child to explore with different flavours, textures etc allows them to strengthen their sensory processing skills as well as their nervous systems.

According to Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, “A child’s greatest self-control occurs in play” (1978, p.99). He proposed that pretend play, in particular, could be a leading factor in the development of the child’s ability to self-regulate, and messy play is a great way to encourage this pretend play.

Creative development – Creativity is SO important in developing the problem solving part of your childs brain. It enhances their innovative thinking and allows them to explore their ideas and create something they are proud of. 

Studies have shown that children who sit in a high chair/at a table and get messy with food, can help them to learn about food and non-solid substances quicker. This is an important step for their brain development and impacts the way children learn. How amazing is this for their little brains! Therefore, letting your child get messy with their food is not just about eating (and it is not just to annoy you), it is an important part of child development.

2. Sensory 

Did you know that eating is the most sensory task a child will do? Whilst children are eating, their brains are processing all the sensory information from the food. This includes the colours they see, the aromas they smell, the feel they touch as well as mouthfeel and the flavours they taste. For children this can be an overwhelming experience and can be why they get upset or “misbehave” at mealtimes. 

Sensory play is SO IMPORTANT. There is so much research (trust us, we’ve trawled it!) to show that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brains pathways. Not only has ‘Research’ told us that, we are both SO privileged to experience this development in front of our very eyes on a daily basis. 

“When you allow a child to investigate and explore new textures, feelings, tastes, colours etc at their own pace, and encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone and ‘Norm’ the effects of this are truly breathtaking” Jess. 

We have watched children flourish and grow in confidence before our eyes… it’s easy to see why we are so passionate about what we do and why we love it so very much. 

Sensory play is known to help children’s abilities to complete more complex learning tasks, it supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills as well as social interaction. It also has the ability to enhance memory, calm an anxious or frustrated child and helps children discover their own sensory likes and dislikes and understand different sensory attributes e.g hot, cold, crunchy, slimy etc.

By providing children with a variety of experiences with food so in a sensory play situation we can encourage children to explore freely and process the sensory information at a slower pace. This gives children the opportunity to decipher their likes and dislikes in tastes but also allows them to explore the environment around them too.

3. Environmentally

Playing with food is not supposed to be all neat and tidy. Children learn through making what we call a “mess” (“I even made a business from making a mess so whatever works” says Emma). Children should be able to explore freely even if that that means they wearing their food!! It’s all about the process of learning. Before exploring with food there are multiple steps they need to take, for example chew food, interact with the food physically, smell it, touch it and then taste it.

In a nutshell, when children are given time and space to explore and discover their own likes and dislikes, the development is astonishing!

4. Normalise

Children who feel safe to touch, squash and play with their food become more familiar with the food and are more likely to snack on this later. For example babies who are exposed to a wide variety of flavours and textures early are more likely to accept new foods in a variety of presentations. This will ultimately minimize any fears that may develop when presented with a new or unfamiliar food, flavours and textures.

For toddlers who may be fussy eaters start with messy activities involving dry textures. This is perfect for children who may be sensory adverse to wet textures. These textures also won’t leave a mess on their hands for example dry pasta, lentils and rice is always a winner! These activities may seem simple, but they are imperative for helping your child build a positive relationship with food.

Even as children get older, textures, flavours, and even the feel of foods can be unsettling and overwhelming as they navigate their way through their school years and establish their adult likes and dislikes. Encouraging children and teens to help in the kitchen, and exposing them to a variety of textures, flavours and feelings can help set them up with healthy eating habits for life. It’s also about not taking it too seriously, letting them set their boundaries.. then nudging them gently a little further over the line. 

“When we make play the foundation of learning, we teach the whole child” Vince Gowmon. 

How beautiful is that quote?! When a child isn’t forced to learn by rote or talked at or even restricted by conforming, but rather they get to learn through themselves, explore their own senses and LEARN about themselves. This learning hits the very core of their being – you can’t ask for more than that!

5. Creativity (last but by no means least!)

Did you know that messy play fosters curiosity, imagination and exploration? There is no right way to carry out messy play, it is all about letting children explore and experiment with different objects and raw materials without any end goals to restrict them. Children’s imaginations can run wild and they can spend a long time exploring these, making their own discoveries, stimulating their curiosity and developing their knowledge. With messy food play, the sensory experience also helps children to understand their senses. By exploring how things feel, smell and taste, this type of play nurtures an awareness and understanding of the world that surrounds them, amazing right?

Letting your child learn through exploring and encouraging their creativity is AMAZING! Don’t believe us? Want to see for yourselves the magic of getting messy and exploring foods? check out our sessions!

We have had a blast working together on this blog and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we have! 

Thanks – and, get messy!

Jess and Emma 


Baby Massage Frequently Asked Questions

We thought we would share some of the most common questions we get asked about our baby massage classes. This way you can be prepared before joining one of our sessions and also have an understanding of how things work for you and your little one.

Often we know this may be the first activity you have attended with your baby, therefore we create an environment whereby we try not to overstimulate babies creating a calming environment for both of you.

What does a class look like? – we usually set up the class in a semi circle/circle this way I can see everyone and you can also see me whilst I demonstrate the strokes (the instructor DOES NOT massage your baby). It also allows me to support you during the class too. I provide yoga mats for babies to lay on just remember to bring a towel/blanket along with you to lay baby on and also to support with keeping them warm during massage.

How old does my baby need to be? – We recommend babies can attend from 6 weeks to 12 months.

What oil do you use and do I need to bring my own? – Oil is provided during the course along with handouts. This supports with massaging your baby at home. The oil we use is a cold-pressed organic sunflower oil which is edible too. Whilst babies are small we avoid oils with fragrances to help support with bonding and attachment. We always recommend to patch test incase babies does show any signs of a reaction.

What do I need to bring? – Everything you would need to leave the house with which we know can be everything including the kitchen sink. Bring what you need to and we provide the rest for your class. We have nappy changing facilities at our venues also.

What if my baby cries? – Don’t worry all baby’s cry, just follow your baby’s cues as we know they may be tired, need feeding etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean they dislike massage either. The first time you perform massage can be overwhelming for a baby, this is why we break the massage down week by week.

Can I bring my partner/relatives/friends along to the class? – Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions we aren’t able to allow support persons.

Are you complying with COVID restrictions? – Yes, we only offering limited numbers in our classes and following the restrictions in place for our current phase. Hand sanitiser will be available at the session and we ensure all our equipment is cleaned after to use.

How do I book a class? – Simply visit our events section on the website and secure your place. Places are limited and bookings are essential.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me further.


Quick play dough recipes

Play dough is always a favourite activity here at First Senses and we always get asked how we make our play dough. We’ve put this blog together to provide you with a few different recipes which are easy to make at home and they’re non-toxic too. Play dough is a fail safe activity to engage and excite those little hands. It’s a brilliant fine motor and sensory tool which is super easy to make.

Natural play dough recipe set up at First Senses classes.
Natural play dough recipe

By making it yourself you know exactly what has gone into your dough and remember you can customize in so many different ways such as glitter, colourings, scents and so much more. 

No-Cream of Tartar/No cook Play dough

Now this is a favourite here at First Senses. It makes a great dough which is silky and is never dry! This recipe also requires no cooking over heat at all and you should have the ingredients in your pantry. Easy!

What you will need

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup of salt
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 3 tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice
  • Food colouring or gel colours 

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until your dough forms together. If you feel your dough is too sticky add a little more flour. Your dough shouldn’t be too dry and it should be easy to mould and have a soft feeling. Sometimes you may need to add a little water if you feel your dough may be a little too dry. The trick is when adding water to add a bit at a time. 

Quick, easy play dough recipes. Birthday cake play doyugh.
Quick, easy play dough recipe

Basic Dough

This is just a basic dough recipe which does require cooking on a low heat. This is a great for dough you might want to last a little longer.

What you will need

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 tbsp of cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • Liquid food colouring

Place all ingredients in a pan and place over a low heat. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and begins to form, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Gluten Free Recipe

We know some children have allergies as well as adults too. Here you can find our gluten free play dough recipe which we have used in our sessions. It’s quick to make and super soft too.

What you will need:

  • ½ cup of rice flour
  • ½ cup of cornflour (gluten free)
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar 
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food colouring

Place all ingredients in a pan and place over a low heat. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and begins to form, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Customise your dough

You can always customise your dough in many ways:

  • Add essential oils, flavours, herbs/spices
  • Glitter or sequins
  • Sand (which you will have seen at all our Under the Sea events)
  • Desiccated coconut
Chocolate happy birthday playdough
Chocolate birthday play dough

Check out our blog next week when we will discuss the benefits of playing with play dough and the wonderful learning opportunities it can provide for young children.

Remember it does take practice but hopefully you will find these recipes easy to make and have those ingredients already in your pantry.


Welcome Sarah to the First Senses Team

We thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce Sarah our new Activity Session Leader who will be delivering our classes across the Northern Suburbs. Here’s just a bit of information about her and her background in Child Care.

Hi there, I’m Sarah.
​Born and bred Adelaidian I have over 8 years experience working with children and families within the child care sector. ​​My career journey began in 2009 volunteering at the Tafe SA Elizabeth Playgroup whilst working toward my Certificate III in Children’s services, which I obtained in 2010. I knew then that my passion lay within the early childhood industry and continued on my studies until I graduated with my Diploma of Children’s Service in 2011. ​​I have experience working with children from birth all the way through to kindergarten in various roles and have also participated in and gained my certificate in Brain Development and Neuroscience at The Lady Gowrie Children’s Centre. Throughout my years in the child care sector I developed a strong passion for sensory/messy play and nature play and would often plan many learning experiences around these areas, as I believe these types of play facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to create and investigate, which is essential for learning and development.​


During my time as a Qualified Early Child Care Educator I have also welcomed three beautiful children Aria, Oscar and Eddy. Like many children they also love playing and getting messy. They have helped me experiment with many aspects of messy play and given me plenty of new learning experiences not only as a parent but as an educator too.  Whilst on indefinite leave with my son Eddy  I came across the advertised role for First Senses and just could not believe my luck. The role encompassed everything I loved about working with children and families and fit in perfectly with the work, life, family balance I want to maintain. Crossing my fingers I applied for the role and I guess you can say the rest is history :)​Looking forward to meeting you all​.


5 Reasons why you should join a First Senses Messy Play Class

Have you always wondered why you should come and join one of our messy play classes? We’ve put together a list of the top 5 reasons why you should choose First Senses as your messy play experts.

  1. Enhance children’s learning and development All our activities during our sessions are planned in line with children’s developmental milestones and learning in mind. With over 12 years experience of working with children Emma is qualified to ensure our activities aid their learning. Sarah is also a qualified Early Years Educator with over 8 years of working in the sector (check out our About Me for more information).
  2. Sociable All our sessions encourage families and children to be social. Our sessions provide a fun, laid back atmosphere to allow children to learn and develop in a unstructured way. They are allowed to explore the materials through their own investigations. You can bring your friends, spend time with your family and meet other new families.
  3. Professional Did we mention our Emma holds a BA in Early Years as well as other relevant Early Childhood qualifications. Emma has held many positions in her career starting in childcare, kindergartens and heading into working with vulnerable families and children. Our sessions ensure children’s learning is nurtured in their own way.
  4. Affordable We aren’t just about making money. Our sessions were developed to be affordable to all families whilst offering high quality learning opportunities.
  5. You don’t have to clean up any of the mess at the end of the session! That’s right you just leave that clean up to us!

Gruffalo Messy Play – June 2017


Magical Mess June 2017

Well what can I say our first messy play session at Glenelg was an absolute blast and well we definitely made a mess! We had lots of activities on offer including unicorn poop, rainbow spaghetti, paint and so much more. I must say it took the longest time ever to clean up! It just shows the memories which were made and the fun that was had. Can I just thank all those who attended I really appreciate all your support and feedback.

Just look at these wonderful pictures….. if you have any please add them to our Facebook page

 


Are you ready for Magical Mess?

Are you ready for our first upcoming messy play sessions? We will be launching with our first magical mess sessions in June 2017. We are still awaiting the confirmation of dates, times and location but we will know shortly. Just keep following our Facebook page, Instagram page and our website for more information.

Sessions will be bookable online via our website and will cost just $15 for one adult and child and an additional $5 for an extra sibling. Numbers will be limited for these sessions and they are popular so please book your ticket once they are available.

Our sessions are fun, relaxed and inspire creative learning for children 6 months and above. Want to come and enjoy an session with your children getting messy then you’ve come to the right place.

We will be in touch shortly!