Mmm the Magic Blanket. Sounds magical right? Well it definitely is. It can transport you anywhere you would like to go while feeling safe, contained, and connected. This is a special tool that is very well known to Dance/Movement Therapists and perhaps other expressive art therapists, educators, or occupational therapists. I discovered this Body Band at an Expressive Arts Summit in New York a couple of years ago. The creative art therapists played in one of these to explore the benefits of it. I remember seeing these adults smiling and moving slowly in one of these props in the convention center near the bathroom. Of course I had to join in on the fun and once inside, I felt transported to a place of peace. I could see how this would be amazing for all humans but especially children. The year after this, I made the best purchase in my life and bought one at the Dance Therapy conference in San Diego.
Once I brought the body band to my classroom of toddlers at my previous preschool, Buckle My Shoe, the children and I named it the magic blanket. It definitely feels magical. While playing and using our imaginations inside of them, we take a journey to different places such as the ocean, a cave, or just a pure joyful game of hide and seek. The texture of the blanket is stretchy and it can envelope you or if you choose, you can keep it open. I have found that it is helpful for children who want to be part of the group but also want space to themselves. Through many experiences with the magic blanket, children and adults navigate the world balancing to interact or not to in social situations. To be with others or to be alone. We all have to manage this all of the time and it isn’t easy to do so all of the time. Sometimes we have to be around others even when we don’t feel like it. We also learn how to balance inter/intra personal skills and the magic blanket is an amazing way to do so.
We are also learning how to take turns, manage problem solving skills, and listening to your body to see what feels good and what doesn’t. When I come into work now at the preschool that I currently work at, the children of all ages come up to me asking for the magic blanket. Even though sometimes it feels like it’s a big deal to bring it out, I always remember that it is so exciting and fun for the children and that if they are enjoying something, it also means they’re learning. Today, when I brought it out for the children, We first tried to all go inside of it together. Then, once that there were about 8-10 kids squished next to each other’s bodies and all huddle together like they were porcupines in the winter, one of the children who is four years old said, “There are too many people in here.” I was amazed that she was able to express herself in that way instead of getting upset and just crying or pushing a child or exhibiting any other negative response. But then again, four year olds are much more verbal and self-aware than my little two year olds. So once she said that, I supported her completely and agreed. We all got out for a moment and then we talked about how many children do we think should be in at one time. Somehow we agreed and the quickest four kiddos were the lucky ones to try it first!
We took turns counting to 5 while one group was inside and they got to hide underneath it and have it fully covered. Also the first time that we did it, I was inside with them and then when we split the groups, I stood outside watching. This was a key part as well because I am always learning as a teacher how to balance interacting with the kids and joining, guiding them, and knowing when to step aside and really allow them to play on their own. Wow it really does come back to that idea of being with others and being away. Observing or Joining.
After the children took turns, the teachers came and said, “two more minutes left to play.” I made sure to tell them okay this is your last turn as a group and then the other group’s last turn too. I’m always trying to make sure to give warnings and sing songs during transitions with children. That has become one of my pet peeves when teachers don’t always give the children a heads up about what is happening. They are people too and need to know what is going on in their day. I am like that and I am 29 years old! Anywho, I know it gets tough to always sing the song or inform the children of what is next, but when we do it often, it becomes a habit and the children expect it too. Plus, telling them ahead of time, helps avoid tantrums and sad kiddos.
Lastly, it was time to say goodnight to the magic blanket and we said thank you to it as well. I put it back in my special white bag in the cupboard as the children ran to catch up to their teachers.
I am very grateful to 1. Have obtained my own magic blanket (body band) and to 2. Share it with the children at my school. It gets hard to be creative as a teacher and I am always thinking about new experiences to provide for them. I also forget that they help us be creative. If we fully listen to them and to their ideas and what they have to say, then our jobs will be easier, more fun, and more effective. Also, there are SO many ways to achieve inter/intra personal skills with children whether you have the body blanket or not. But making sure that we are always thinking about how do the children learn to be independent and social, and how do we help them learn what they need to be in social situations, whether it’s to have some space first, to take deep breaths, to ask for some sensory input from their teachers, etc. One way to support them in this, it by making sure to have a cozy area in the classroom is VERY important!
Ahhh. Well it feels so good to write and share about my day. I want to write everyday like Teacher Tom does. I know it will only make me a better teacher and a better human.
Thank you everything and everyone.