Mermaid boards, or double sided sequin pillows, are an easy to make sensory resource to add to your home. Apart from being fun and sparkly (who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle) they are also a great resource for child development.
Ready to get your craft on? Watch the video to see how, or scroll on to learn about the developmental treasure trove that Mermaid boards offer.
Benefits for Child Development
Touch is the first sense to develop in utero and therefore the first feedback that a child gets from the outside world. Tactile play is very important for child development. When children use their sense of touch, their fingertips (nervous system) send information from their hands to be processed by their brains (cognitive development) and then this information is catalogued to improve their understanding of the world. For example, when you reach into your bag to find your phone, your hands know what they are looking for using touch alone. Children are constantly practising this concept through touch, one of the 5 senses. The process also bounces information through their muscular system, which gives them practice at moving their hands and fingers (fine motor skills development). Isn’t that amazing? All of this goes on through the simple act of touch! So how can we help develop all of this? By providing play based opportunities which encourage children to explore. That’s where our mermaid boards come in. I challenge you to find even an adult who isn’t curious to touch these!
Cause and Effect
Another way children learn about the world is through exploring cause and effect. This doesn’t have to involve elaborate science experiments. When children run their hands over the sequins, they change colour. This may be an obvious result for us as adults. But why is that? Because we have the concept development well practised. We know before we touch what will most likely happen, because we have seen it before. Children are still coming to terms with the fact that what they do has a direct impact on the world. So if they react with wonder the first few times and then move the sequins like pros, hooray! The child has learned that this object has special characteristics and understands how to interact with it to produce the colour change. (the concept development is in understanding this information rather than the actual skills needed to touch the board)
To be fair, EVERYTHING is an opportunity for language development. Talking to babies and children about what you’re doing is a great way for them to pair up words with objects or concepts. Did you know that there are two types of language and that one starts developing long before a child can speak? Receptive language is what a child can understand. Your baby may not be able to say “pass me that ball”. But if you say, “pass me that ball”, do they look at the ball? Do they pick it up? Can they pass it over? All these things are signs of receptive language development. So as your child explores the mermaid board, talk to them! Talk about colours, light, touch, movement… anything you can think of! If your child can speak (expressive language) mermaid boards are a great opportunity to listen to them describe what they think is happening, or encourage them to explain the process to you.
So Where Do I Get the Materials?
You can pick up the A4 sized frames in the video from IKEA for less than $2! Or choose a different size in the same range. You can explore here.
The mermaid fabric was purchased from Spotlight. Don’t be scared by the full retail price! The bolt is very wide so if you purchase 30cm of the fabric (take 70% off the price per metre) you can safely make 4 (or more) mermaid boards. If you can grab it on sale, even better.
Hot glue guns can be purchased from craft stores (including spotlight) but double sided tape would also work to prevent the fabric from shifting.
*DISCLAIMER – adequate supervision is always required when children are playing. Please be aware of potential loose sequins as small parts.