Strengthening Sensory Skills

I like listening. Last Friday I watched a TED talk titled 5 Ways to Listen Better and decided to act on some of these suggestions while I enjoyed a stroll around the Lily Pond in Balboa Park. I had intended to take a quick walk around the pond and head back to the office. Then I overheard a family discussing the koi in the pond, which tuned me in to all the families enjoying the park on this beautiful day. Remembering the TED talk on listening, I decided to have a seat and take in the sounds and sights of the afternoon.

I closed my eyes and let my other senses take over for just a moment and felt the warmth of the sun as I listened to the wind seconds before I felt the breeze. I overheard conversations around me and opened my eyes just in time to see a dog jump away from the pond, possibly afraid of the koi or his own shadow. I saw a turtle sunning himself on a lily pad and beautiful water lilies in colorful bloom. There was a young girl in a family of four that wanted to use the camera to photograph the koi and was careful to put the strap around her neck before she held it over the water for her photograph. A family approached and began talking about the koi, which somehow led to a conversation about shark week. It was fascinating to be a visual and auditory observer of these musings.

With one last look around, it struck me that everyone was relaxed. There were at least half a dozen picnics on the lawn, families lazing on the bridge railing and only one cell phone user, which I saw but never heard despite being one bench apart. I was truly impressed by the overall relaxed atmosphere and lack of urgency to see the next thing in the park. I decided that I must take a sensory break at least once a week and test my listening (and other sensory) skills in all the gardens of Balboa Park.

Balboa Park Botanical Building & Lily Pond

Try This
I Spy: I know I use this game in a lot of my posts, but it is truly one of my favorites. It can be done anywhere and is easily adaptable to any age, including adults. You can deviate from colors to sounds, numbers, shapes, objects or actions. For example, close your eyes and try to identify the sounds you hear. Another example is “I Spy 8,” which could have been the number of picnics, dogs, kids, or koi during my visit to the Lily Pond. Another of my favorite variations of this game is spying shapes in the clouds. For more I Spy, visit my botanic gardens and repetition posts. What other adaptations can you think of for I Spy?

Sensory Pages:
As a child I would create everything pages, which was simply a white piece of scratch paper filled with drawings of anything and everything scattered across the page. Try this with the senses by dividing the paper into fifths and labeling each section with a different sense. Draw (or list) everything you observe with your senses. You can do this anywhere, but be sure to give it a title that identifies your location. Use this page to write a sensory poem.

What other activities do you do to enhance listening skills?

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