Are you a parents of a child with autism or other special need, and are looking for ideas for sensory activities?
These suggestions are great for special needs children, and 'typical' children. This info is a great resource for parents and teachers. The ebook was written by myself, a parent of a child with special needs & a former teacher. EBay is a GREAT place to look for materials for your sensory activities, or for specific items.
The following are excerpts from our ebook: Suggestions for Sensory-Rich Activities . To read the full copy, please visit our EBay store to order your ebook. The full version includes photos, and more suggestions for tactile, oral, auditory, full-body, visual activities and more recipes.
TACTILE BINS- put together various bins with very tactile items in it. May I suggest bins with good sealable lids?
• Dry pasta (mix it up!- macaroni, rotini, shells, etc.)
• Beans/peas (this is my fav- I love the feel of the smooth peas/beans)
A fun variation of this is to hide specific things in the bin, and make a chart (can be a card with pics on it) of the things they have to search for. For instance, we put some dry alphabet pasta in the pasta bin. You could have them search through and find the one that was the letter T. Or find the only red button in the button bin.
TEXTURED WALL- this is a great idea for those learning how to stand! Use textured materials and decorate a panel that you attach to the wall. (Or you could attach items directly to your wall). Use all material items (corduroy, terry cloth, fur, velvet, corrugated cardboard, etc.) or add items to the materials afterward (buttons, small toys, etc)
TACTILE BOX- this is a box/bin that you put together with all different textures. These could be things you find around the house, or I filled mine at the dollar store. Things I put in mine: bath scrubbies, scratchy bath mitts, wooden roller massage, chip bag, tissue paper, squishy balls, playdough, slinky toy…
WEIGHTED TOYS, etc. Check the standard special needs catalogues (Flaghouse, etc.) or if you do a search on EBay, you can find people who make weighted items at a lesser cost. I love my son’s weighted blanket. So comfy and relaxing…
SENSORY ‘ROOM’- both tactile and highly visual! -a lot of work for you, but a lot of fun for them! Great for children with vision limitations. You build a little cubicle (find someone who knows what they are doing so it is safe)- or at least 2-3 walls and ceiling (leave one side open so they can crawl in or out). Attach tidbits of items all over the ceiling and walls, encouraging the child/client to reach out and touch, pull, etc. The ones that I’ve seen made are basically from scraps of anything appropriate for the person using it. Walk around the house and find items that make sound, are bumpy, etc. Or visit your local dollar store for ideas. Then fasten everything onto the walls and ceiling. Allow some items to hand. It really looks like an eyesore after it is done, but it is a lot of fun.
IDEAS: chimes, soft fuzzy floor, textured paper, corrugated cardboard,
PROJECTORS- great visual stimulation! We got our projector through Flaghouse (you can do a search on their website for “space projector”) and I love it. It projects colored oil colors onto the wall. Great for sensory rooms.
I have found since then though, that there are other products designed for babies for nurseries that project lightshows onto the ceiling. Although, if you want ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’, you might want to consider the oil version. Just a cautionary note- the oil wheel insert is made of glass (so breakable) and the entire unit gets quite hot, so it has to be up on a shelf away from little hands, and the electrical cord should be up as well (high sockets) when plugged in so no one pulled the hot unit down on their heads.
WATER BOTTLES- my son LOVES water. He LOVES bottled water. I thought his school aide was a genius last year when she put water in a water bottle, added a little food coloring and glued the cap on. Why not a variation on this? Water, a little dye, and some floaty things that you can watch and look for when shaking it around.
VIDEO STOREYBOOKS- I love this idea! Kind of like the read along with the storey, but for visual learners, the video equivalent! When my brother went away recently, he made short video clips of him reading his young children’s favorite stories. So, when they still had Daddy around to hear stories from every night! I had copies of the videos on my computer, and my special needs son loved seeing his uncle reading the stories. And my learning-to-read 4 year old, would go find the book (if she had that particular one) and read along with him.
MUSIC BIN- guaranteed to drive mom and dad crazy! Put together a bin of musical instruments you can pull out- a piano, flute/recorder, tambourines, maracas, castanets, bells, drums… a great way to include special needs kids in a group of children. Put on a marching band!
MUSICAL CDS- there is such a vast assortment of music now available for kids! I have a good variety of different style music cds for our son. When he gets fussy, I can usually find something from the list to help calm him. Just some ideas to get you thinking:
• Instrumental (classical)
• Children’s (soundtracks from familiar tv shows work great)
• Soft drumming
• Baby Einstein cds/videos are GREAT! They are the only way I’ve gotten any sleep during the past few years when my son was awake all night. You can purchase these online or in most stores that sell cds.
HOUSE SOUNDS- make recordings of different house sounds- the doorbell, dryer, alarm clock, tap running, microwave beeping, telephone, washer, sound of a door closing, etc. Play the recordings and guess what it is that is making that sound.
VIBRATING TOOTHBRUSH- a bit strange, but when I first tried to use a vibrating toothbrush on my son, he was VERY defensive about it. I wasn’t able to use it. When I re-introduced it a few years later, he had a very different reaction. He liked it and it calmed him. Now I pretty much have to sit on him again to brush his teeth.
BLOW TOYS- pinwheel, whistle, birthday blowers, kazoos… Blowing BUBBLES!
HOUSE SNIFF- go around the house and seek out different smells. The kitchen is a great place to start- smell the spices, different fruits. In the laundry room (if not sensitive to the scent), you can take a gentle smell of laundry detergent. In the bathroom you can smell all of the different bath and body products. Shaving cream, lotion, bars of soap, shampoo, toothpaste. Go outside- what smells outside? The grass, the flowers, the bark on the tree…
SPICE GUESS- Pull out the spice jars! Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the smell of different spices. Then (without looking), smell them individually, discuss their scent and try to guess. For an easier guess, let the person see the spice or tell them the color of it.
ROLY POLY- roll the child/client up in a blanket or mat. Give them hugs and squeezes. Great for deep pressure input.
BLANKET SWING- have 2 people hold a blanket and swing the child/client in it.
BIKE- when our son was young, we were able to adapt a ‘regular’ tricycle to work for him (he couldn’t sit independently). We removed the seat, added on a wooden one that we made. It was high backed, we padded it for comfort, and it had straps on it to hold him securely. We also added some wooden blocks to the footplates and some straps, so we could strap his feet to the pedals and he could help pedal. We chose one with a push bar (removable) on the back, so we could then push him on the bike. Worked very well until he outgrew it (then we converted it back for his sister). We have yet to get a ‘big kid’ tricycle, but look forward to being able to get him one.
Kool-Aid Playdough Recipe:
2 ½ cups of flour
½ cup of salt
2 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid
2 cups of boiling water
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
Mix dry ingredients. Add water and oil. Stir, mix or knead with hands when cool. Store in a lidded container.
½ cup cornstarch
1 cup cold water (3/4 and ¼)
1 pkg unflavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
food coloring/ poster paint
Soak the gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. Set aside.
In a saucepan, mix the cornstarch with ¾ cup of cold water into a smooth paste.
Pour boiling water slowly over cornstarch mixture, stirring. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and clears. Remove. Stir in gelatin. Cool and divide into separate small screw top jars. Add color. Refrigerate to store.
For the entire copy of Suggestions for Sensory-Rich Activities and other resources for special needs children/parents (including a handy little record book in print or ebook form!), please visit our EBay Store.