MSE Lab Digital Resources

Home-Based Sensory Solutions

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DIY Floral Arranging

Contributed by Kori Pop, Expressive Arts Graduate Student at Mohawk College


Essential oils and aromatherapy have become well known for their ability to contribute to greater mental, physical and emotional wellness. While I regularly enjoy the benefits of diffusing oils, nothing brings me more pleasure than inhaling the scents of our natural world and in particular - the smell of flowers and herbs. Evidence of the health benefits of flowers and gardening goes as far back as ancient Egypt when doctors would prescribe patients to walk through gardens (Perryman & Keller, 2009). Have you heard of Sensory Gardens? These are garden environments that are designed with the express purpose of stimulating the senses (See Halton Hills’ The Children’s Garden for the Senses). What happens when regular access to garden spaces is not possible? We can bring the outside, inside! From start to finish and beyond, flower arranging is a wonderful opportunity to engage the olfactory senses daily. It's also exceptionally creative and encourages self-expression through the plants you choose, to the container you put them in and even where you decide to place the finished product! You can collect flowers and herbs from your own or a family members garden, purchase them at a local grocer or…you can even create your own living arrangement! I make a point to have fresh flowers in a vase near my workspace and allow myself to take frequent ‘smell breaks’ in order to reset my focus and calm my nerves (especially helpful when I have been staring at a screen for hours, which so many of us are these days). In the video below, you will see how fun (and even yummy) it can be to bring a little bit of garden to your own dinner table!


Modification for the activity in the video:

  • If you don't have a drill & tea tins on hand, you can re-purpose disposable plastic cups! For a tiny arrangement, tea cups make cute containers!
  • Collaging with tissue paper is a wonderful way to decorate your vase/flower pot!
  • Instead of creating your own tray, you can use a pie plate!


Kristi L. Perryman & Elizabeth A. Keller (2009) Floratherapy as a Creative Arts Intervention With Women in a Retirement Home, Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 4:4, 334-342, DOI: 10.1080/15401380903372653


Lagreze, Katharine, "Art Therapy Blossoms: Developing Floral Design in Art Therapy for Adults with Anxiety" (2019). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. https://digitalcommons.lesley.edu/expressive_theses/223

How to Make a Floral Herb Centerpiece

DIY Nature Art


Contributed by Kori Pop, Expressive Arts Graduate Student at Mohawk College


Nature Art is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in a relaxing and creative way. It is also highly beneficial for our mental and emotional health. Dr. Anthony Wong explains:


“Changes in serotonin levels have been associated with anxiety and depression. Because the level of serotonin in our brain is affected by the amount of oxygen that you inhale, it makes sense that getting some fresh air can improve your sense of happiness and well-being.”

(Yuko, 2020)


To create nature art all you need are things like rocks, stones, leaves, flowers, pine cones, nuts, sticks or even weeds! Just this past week I decided I wanted to make a Mandala using something that smelled lovely to me.


Mandala is a Sanskrit term that means 'circle' or 'discoid object.' Though they are traditionally considered devotional objects (Violatti, 2020), in more recent years Mandala's have become popular additions to mindfulness and meditative practices.


I enjoy making them because patterns and symmetry are calming for me. So, out into my backyard I went and using my nose to guide me, I gravitated to some Blue Spruce trees. The aroma of the tree sap made me feel both happy and invigorated so I collected a few clippings for my creation, along with some Boxwood leaves. Their smooth texture contrasted nicely with the prickly needles of the spruce. My favourite part of creating nature art is that it is meant to be impermanent – kind of like playing with Lego blocks! When I felt satisfied with my creation, I took a moment to appreciate the experience and then happily swept it away. Here is a picture of my Nature Art:

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In the video below you have a chance to learn more about the world of Nature Art and the way it benefits our wellbeing. Happy Creating and don’t forget to use your nose!

Nature Art Makes Us Happier and Healthier

Modification:

If getting outside is not possible, you can easily make nature art using flowers from an arrangement, or even fruits and veggies!


Yuko, E. (2020, March 18). Is Fresh Air Actually Good for Your Health? Retrieved June 11, 2020, from https://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1138751/health-benefits-fresh-air/


Violatti, C. (2020, May 18). Mandala. Retrieved June 11, 2020, from https://www.ancient.eu/mandala/

Aromatherapy 101

We have all likely heard of aromatherapy... the concept has been around for years. Take a look at this short video clip below to uncover 3 practical uses for essential oils and how you can incorporate these into your daily routine or the routine of someone whom you support.


*Note*- as always you should be aware of any allergies and personal preferences before using essential oils with someone other than yourself. Using a diffuser is much safer than applying the oils topically.


The List Show (2018, November 20). Aromatherapy 101: 3 amazing uses, facts and health benefits. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj3tWMbYO8E

Aromatherapy 101: 3 Amazing Uses, Facts and Health Benefits

The Difference Between Taste & Smell

When I teach about the senses in my multi-sensory lab training modules I usually like to bring some fun experiments to the table for the students to try... these help to increase their understanding of the content I am teaching and gets them involved.


One of my favourite interactive tools that I usually use is the video below. I use this video when I am teaching them more about their sense of smell and taste, in order to demonstrate how closely related these two senses really are!


Take a look at the link below and then try this experiment with someone else. All you need are some skittles and a blindfold. You will be amazed at how powerful this experience is!


YR Media. (2012, June 14). The difference between taste & smell. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwuxC4TAMCw

The Difference Between Taste & Smell