We are delighted to announce our new blogging partnership with Joanna Fortune. Joanna will be writing a Blog-osity post every month, for 12 months and we are excited to have her on-board!

Joanna Fortune is a Clinical Psychotherapist specialising in child and adolescent Psychotherapy with over 12 years experience. She is widely recognized for her use of simple supportive language to make connections with parents and children. Among many other things, Joanna is a regular contributor in the media on issues of child development and parenting. Joanna founded Solamh Parent Child Relationship Clinic in Dublin in October 2010.

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Hi, I'm Joanna Fortune and I am delighted to be writing some blogs for Imaginosity's fabulous blog site. For those who don't yet know me, I am a psychotherapist and attachment specialist working with children, adolescents and parents in my Solamh Parent Child Relationship Clinic in Sandyford Dublin 18 ( www.solamh.com ). It has been said that I tend to view the world through the eyes of a 5 year old and this, I'm proud to say, is very true. Why not take a look at www.joannafortune.com to find out all about me and the work that I do.

So you can expect my blogs to be about child development, challenging behaviours and what they mean, as well as practical tips on parent-child play time. Whatever I am blogging about there will always be a practical tip for you to use at home with your child, ensuring15 minutes of quality play time together per day.

The weather is finally getting better and it's time to get out there and make the most of it with your children while you can. I noticed that Imaginosity were doing a great theme to welcome spring so I thought I would take their lead and talk you through a fun, sensory engaging parent-child spring time play tip. You can start this activity with a great nature walk and collect some items for your 'sensory basin' while out and about having fun.


Spring Time Sensory Basin:

You will find lots of variations on this on Pinterest and other websites, but I think it's fun to come up with your own version. Sensory basins are a great way to teach about the season while keeping it fun and engaging at your child's level. Young children need sensory play and love to play in this way with their parents and let's face it, it's fun for us grown-ups too!

Sensory play is essential for children's development. It is the first stage of their developmental play and is all about skin, touch based and messy play. It is through this type of play that children learn about boundaries and containment, they learn that they have a skin and where they end and the world around them begins. Babies and young children learn to trust in a physical way, so this type of sensory based play is also essential to support children to develop their sense of trust, both in themselves and in others. If your child is prone to anxiety or worry, sensory play is a great way to get them out of their heads and into the moment, into their feelings, at any age so don't think your child is too old for this type of play. There are added benefits for you and your child when you engage in this kind of messy and touch based play together, it helps enhance your communication and builds trust and emotional regulation between you...so get stuck in your self and don't be afraid of getting messy!

You will need supplies that might include:

• A basin (a washing up basin is fine or other similarly sized plastic tub)

• Small flower pots

• (Dried) Bow-Tie pasta (it looks like butterflies in your basin and it's ok if you want to add in dip dying or painting these first, all messy play is good!)

• (Dried) Green and Red lentils (for texture and colour)

• Small pebbles (that you can collect from a nature walk together)

• Something like Lima Beans (they can be planted in one of your flower pots later and you can watch with your child as they grow)

Sit with your child as you both engage in pouring in the contents one at a time, perhaps suggesting that half of everything goes in at a time so they can layer the contents. Add the bow tie pasta at the end for your "butterflies" to sit on the top. Encourage your child to fill the flower pots and pour the contents back out or from one pot to another. They can scoop the contents up with their hands and enjoy the sensory benefits even more OR you can introduce chopsticks and make a game out of trying to pick individual things up with the chopsticks and fill the flower pot between you. This will also help with motor skill development while engaging in challenge based play that is collaborative not competitive (more on that in a later blog!)

It is good to include something you can plant together and watch grow. This encourages your child to see the value in nurturing and caring for something and encourages them to take age appropriate responsibility. I use the Lima beans for this but you could add a bulb of your choice and plant that.

*Be aware that lima beans and small pebbles can represent choking hazards to smaller children