Spring Sensory Observation Walk

One of the new Spring activities that I introduced to the kidlets yesterday is a sensory observation walk/scavenger hunt. I aimed the focus of this walk toward using multiple senses together to find particular items on our observation list. I chose a bunch of things that we were most likely to see outside and we came up with some more ideas along the way so we will probably be doing this activity again soon! Here are the items that were on yesterday’s list:

-birds chirping
-water rushing over rocks
-barking dog
-a sparkly rock
-children playing
-airplane or helicopter in the sky
-a bridge to cross
-swimming ducks
-big birds hunting/circling

We used both pictures and words on our lists because Z is just learning to read and Astoria can’t read by herself yet. I think it is great for them to make the connection between pictures and written language and we found that having the visual really helped them remember what we were looking for along the way without needing any reminders.

The observation walk was a huge hit with the kidlets and they stayed intently focused on listening and watching for things on their list while chatting with each other about what they were hearing and seeing almost the whole time. They also decided the next time we did this activity, they would need to make their own additions to our lists. Zoren wants to add “zooming cars” and “the far away snowy mountains”, while Astoria came up with “people not hitting us on bicycles” and “dog poop” to include. All of which we certainly see plenty of on our walks.

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I think this is an especially great activity for a child with hearing loss because it helps prompt them to marry their sense of hearing with their sense of sight to figure out exactly where a particular sound is coming from. This is a skill that Astoria is quite proficient at but something we still work on to continue building a good listening foundation for her once she reaches school and is put into different types of hearing and listening situations. Being able to reliably determine the origin of a specific sound is also something that appears on all of the assessments Stori has been taking every six months for the last three years, so it must be important! Let me go off on a little tangent for a minute to help explain why this is such a fundamental skill for children with hearing loss to master…

Although hearing aids are a great benefit to most people with hearing loss, especially for individuals who test in the mild/moderate range like Astoria, they are essentially just miniature microphones which are positioned behind the ears. This positioning makes it easier to pick up sounds coming from your aft but make it a little more tricky to decipher sounds coming from in front of you when there is a lot of background noise, especially if its coming from multiple directions. I can only imagine now hard it would be in a crowded situation, like a gymnasium full of kids for instance with someone speaking into a microphone, and having to compensate for the echoing room, disrupting children, applause, and other various distractions coming from all sides while trying to pay attention to what the speaker is actually saying.

It is also worth noting that certain hearing aid settings/programs actually take loud noises over a certain decibel range and cut the sound off completely so as not to cause unpleasant feedback and to protect the wearer’s hearing. A perfect example of this is when we were taking Astoria to ballet and tap dance classes. While she loved the ballet part, once the echoey studio was full of little girls and boys running around in tap shoes, she couldn’t hear much of anything. It was especially difficult for her to comprehend any instruction from her teacher because her hearing aids were either cutting out the noise completely, or it was too loud for her to decipher what was being said. I don’t know exactly what she was experiencing because she is so young still and not always able to explain exactly what the problem is. But I do know that she will inevitably be put into a countless number of similarly difficult listening situations throughout school and beyond. Situations that I won’t be present for, have no control over, and can’t guide her through. I will have to trust that the skills we have worked on since she was so small and her feisty, honest nature will allow her to prevail and thrive in those types of environments.

And I digress… We finished up our observation walk with a nice picnic in the park and plenty of time at the playground. Astoria is getting to be quite a proficient climber but is still my little swinging girl and will sit on the swings as long as someone is willing to push her once her legs get tired from pumping. Zoren is my playground conqueror and has mastered pretty much every obstacle aside from the monkey bars, which I am sure he will have down by the end of summer.

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We stayed at the park most of the afternoon, soaking up the last rays of sunshine and watching sinister storms form over the mountains then slowly meander in our direction. Once we saw the ominous clouds start to fill our pretty blue skies and the sun tucked itself away behind them, we made our way back home, quite pleased with the day.

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