Weekend Sensory Play Time!

Feeling stuck on what to do with your child this weekend? Need a little INSPIRATION?

Well, you are in luck! This segment includes weekly activities for you to play with your child. Sensory experiences are important for every single child. These activities provide the opportunity to explore and develop their sensory systems. They can be done any time and aim to inspire and guarantee a fun time.  Each week you and your child will have the opportunity to experiment, explore and live a Sensory Lifestyle.

As each child has different sensory preferences I will include tips on how to modify the activities where appropriate.

So let’s get started!

Week 1 Sensory Play

Racing Colors

Racing Colors

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, crossing midline, bilateral integration and motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan &  carry out an unfamiliar task) Tactile and visual senses

How to play:

To get started choose a variety of small cars. Then have various paint colors ready. Once you have a large piece of paper laid over the table or the floor is when the fun begins. Have your child dip the cars in paint. Then let the cars race over the paper and make tracks as they zoom by.

Have the cars go in all directions; up, down, across, diagonally etc. At times encourage your child to zoom across the paper so their hand gets to move across their body. You can do this by getting them racing from one side of the paper to the other.  You can also draw different stations on the paper that they have to reach. For example one side can have a drawn house, the other can have a gas station or maybe a zoo or a park. As they travel from different ‘locations’ they move their hand across their bodies and cross their midline.

Modifications:

If your child does not like to be in contact with paint here are a couple of modifications that can be done:

  1. Large cars: Instead of using small cars you can use large cars that will provide a greater distance between their hands and the paint.
  2. Wet cloth: Have a wet cloth handy that they can use straight away to clean their hands from the paint.

Remember  not to push the actual paint contact if your child is not ready. Present it to them and then follow their lead. Most importantly… Have FUN!!

 

Week 2 Sensory Play

Climbing Trees

Climbing trees

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), balance, strengthening of the core muscles, hand eye coordination and bilateral skills Proprioceptive, vestibular and tactile senses

How to play:

I don’t think this activity needs much direction. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder of a very fun activity that can be done with kids of many ages. It also has a whole range of skills that can be practiced (See above).

For those of you who let your child climb trees this may be just a reminder to find a cool new tree to climb and explore this weekend. Maybe include a tree with an extra challenge.

For the children that have not yet had the opportunity to climb trees. I say go for it! If it’s the first time provide them with more support and then back away as their skill and confidence grows. Of course you should start with trees that have branches very low to the ground. Make sure to stay safe!

Week 3 Sensory Play

Puff Paint

puff paint

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination Tactile and visual senses

How to Play

There are various ways you can create fun and colorful art with puff paint while developing many important skills.

The two strategies that I used include:

  1. Create with your hands

Simply let your child explore the paint with their hands. Next, encourage them to move the paint from their hands onto the paper to create a colorful artwork. They can use their whole hands or individual fingers to paint with. The ability to separate individual fingers is an important skill that is used in most fine motor tasks such as writing, buttoning or picking up small snacks.

  1. Use an instrument to create art

Your child can create a masterpiece while using paintbrushes, sticks or Q tips. Simply dip the instrument into the paint and then let them create their masterpiece.

The masterpiece can range from abstract to cute animals, cars or houses. Depending on their age they can put on as much detail as they want.

Once the artwork is done, put it into the microwave for around 20-30 seconds. The result will include a picture that is raised off the paper.

Puff Paint Recipe

Ingredients:

For each color of paint you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon of self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • A few drops of food coloring
  • Approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water

What to do:

  1. First combine all the dry ingredients
  2. Then add the food coloring
  3. Lastly, add the water to make a smooth paste
  4. COMPLETED WORK: Microwave for approximately 20-30 seconds until the puff paint is dry.

Week 4 Sensory Play

Oobleck Fun

Oobleck

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Body awareness (hands) and hand eye coordination skills Tactile senses

How to Play

Looking for some tactile fun to do with your child? Look no further… oobleck is here. Oobleck was inspired by the book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss.

It is considered a non-Newtonian fluid. What this means is that you can press it together into a solid ball but it quickly turns into a liquid and can ooze through your hand.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Corn Starch
  • 1 cup of Water
  • Food coloring (optional)

What to do

  1. In a bowl, combine the corn starch and water.
  2. Once combined, add the food coloring and mix well.

If you are not sure if it is the correct consistency, here is a little hint. You want to be able to make a solid ball in your hand that changes and oozes as soon as you open your hand.

If it’s too dry, add a couple of table spoons of water.

If it’s too wet or runny, add a couple of table spoons of corn starch.

Once it’s ready… let your child explore with their hands and maybe add some spoons or sifters/baskets for some extra fun.

If your child does not like to get messy, have towels ready to clean their hands or provide tools that they can use instead of their hands.

Cleaning Tip: Once dry, it can be easily wiped of.

Week 5 Sensory Play

Gardening

Gardening

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan & carry out an unfamiliar task) and strengthening if doing heavy work Tactile, proprioceptive and visual senses

How to play:

It’s spring time! It’s a perfect time to do some gardening. This activity can be completed by anyone, living anywhere.

For an experienced gardener this simply acts as a prompt to let your children get involved with you. For the novice like myself there is no need to get freaked out. If you don’t know where to start you can purchase a gardening kit.  It’s simple to follow directions and doesn’t require much space. There are many gardening kits available online.

Gardening is great as it gives your child the opportunity to explore the dirt through their tactile sense but also gives them the opportunity to watch their hard work grow. The proprioceptive sense is also stimulated as they fill and empty their watering cans.

If they are doing some heavy work through shoveling or raking they are also stimulating their proprioceptive sense and strengthening their bodies.

Week 6 Sensory Play

Maze of lasers

Laser course

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
 Body awareness, balance, coordination, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan & carry out an unfamiliar task), hand and shoulder strength, core strength, trunk control and visual skills Vestibular and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

This is more like an obstacle course that can be played like a ‘Mission Impossible’ adventure.

To start grab some red yarn (lasers) and spread it across the room if playing inside or trees/fences if playing outside. Tie the yarn so it spreads across the obstacle space. Make some of the lasers low to the ground, some in the middle and some up high.

The aim of this game is to try to get from one side of the obstacle course to the other without touching the lasers.

Week 7 Sensory Play

Construction in Action!

Construction with pipes

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan & carry out an unfamiliar task), attention, imagination & creativity Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Equipment needed: PVC pipes (various lengths), connectors (elbows, coupling, tee connectors, pvc cross etc), water.

This is the activity that really allows your child to get creative and test the laws of physics.  It’s all about connecting pipes in different formats and testing out what happens to the water once poured inside of them.

I would suggest giving them all the equipment and some containers of water. Then, allow them to experiment. If they are unsure of where to start give them some guidance. As they start to get comfortable you can back away your assistance and watch the learning happen.

 

Week 8 Sensory Play

Cooking- Noodle time

Cooking pasta

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan & carry out an unfamiliar task) Tactile, visual and gustatory (taste) senses

How to play:

If you haven’t gotten your kids into the kitchen yet, this may be the time. This is a fun and healthy recipe that your kids will sure enjoy making and hopefully eating as well.

Throughout this recipe your child can be involved with as many or as few tasks. They can range from collecting ingredients, pouring, mixing and manipulating dough.

The main component of this dish is the pici pasta. It is made from dough that is the same consistency as play dough. So basically you can have them having fun with it. To make the pici, you need to tear off balls of dough and roll them out into long, thin sausage shapes.

As usual make sure you supervise all the tasks and enjoy the great flavors.

Recipe – http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/spinach-pici-pasta/

Week 9 Sensory Play

Ooey Gooey Gak

Gak

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan &  carry out an unfamiliar task) Tactile Sense

How to play:

If your child is old enough, make sure you get them involved in actually making Gak from scratch. Once your Ooey Gooey Gak is done have fun with it.

What can you do with Gak?

  • Squish it
  • Pull it apart and then pull it together again
  • Poke it
  • Squish it into an empty play dough container. WARNING: Strange noises might be heard during this maneuver!
  • Hide small toys/objects in it. Then try to retrieve them!
  • Use cookie cutters to cut out different shapes

What are your favorite ideas? Feel free to share in the comments below.

MODIFICATIONS: Do you have a child who is cautious with new textures? If yes then you can place Gak into a ziplock bag. They can still explore and interact with it without the slimy texture.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz of Elmer’s Glue
  • 8 oz of warm water
  • Food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon Borax
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

What to do

  1. Mix glue and water in a bowl
  2. Add the food coloring and mix it in
  3. In a separate bowl using a spoon mix 1/2 cup of warm water and Borax
  4. Once the Borax has dissolved add this mixture into the glue mixture
  5. Mix first with the spoon. Once the mixture is combined knead with your hands until you have finished forming Gak
  6. Have fun!

Week 10 Sensory Play

Art through Air & Color

Blow art

 

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Oral motor skills, visual tracking and hand eye coordination Visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Blowing activities are great. Through blowing, your child gets to work on their oral motor skills. They get to practice how to coordinate their lips, cheeks and jaw with airflow. Their muscle tone gets strengthened. They build awareness of their mouth, tongue, lips and jaw. This is a great activity that strengthens your child’s oral muscles and builds coordination.

Oral motor activities also have benefits related to speech, feeding, respiration and regulation.

As the child watches the colors splatter across the paper it also encourages visual tracking.

So how do you play this activity and experience all of these benefits?

Get an empty piece of paper. Give your child a short (around 2 inches) straw. Then either yourself or your child drops small drop of food coloring on their empty piece of paper. Lastly let your child blow onto the drop of food coloring and watch the colors splatter across their paper. You can repeat it with other colors.

Once dry this becomes an abstract piece of art.

Week 11 Sensory Play

Baked cotton ball smash

Baked Cotton Balls

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
 Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination, hand strength, balance and visual skills Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Follow the recipe below to create your baked cotton balls. Depending on the age of your child you may want to get them engaged in making the cotton balls.

Once ready it’s time to get smashing. They can break down the cotton balls through the use of their hands, feet or even a hammer.  Just a note that the plastic hammer won’t make a dint on them but a wooden toy hammer is a go.

Baked cotton ball Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food coloring

What to do:

  1. Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour
  2. Divide the mixture into 4 containers
  3. Add food coloring to each mixture
  4. Dip in a cotton ball and cover it fully with the mixture
  5. Once covered place it onto an aluminum foil
  6. Bake in the oven at 300°F for 45 min
  7. Get smashing!

Week 12 Sensory Play

Messy play: Cloud dough

cloud dough

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and visual perception skills Tactile sense

This is such a fun activity. The cloud dough is very similar to the commercial moon sand. It feels silky and it is very moldable. The easy part is that it only includes two materials, baby oil and flour (see recipe below). Below is a general guideline from which you can work. I decided to add a little extra baby oil to make it even more moldable.

How to Play

Once you’ve made your dough, give your child some containers and spoons and let them explore. Cloud dough can provide lots of entertainment while expanding their tactile sense. When using it in therapy I always had to pack up a to go bag full of cloud dough due its popularity.

Cloud Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Baby Oil
  • 8 cups of flour

What to do:

  1. Simply mix the two ingredients together. THAT’S IT!
  2. Store it in a container with a lid

Week 13 Sensory Play

Colored rice play

Play with rice

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, tactile discrimination, attention and imagination Visual, tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

Coloring rice is super easy.

  1. Place rice into small plastic containers or a zip lock bag
  2. Add food coloring to each container
  3. Shake, shake, shake to mix up the rice with that color
  4. Open the container and let it dry out
  5. Rice is colored and ready to be played with

Depending on the age of your child you can definitely get them involved in coloring the rice with you. Once the rice is ready, place it into a large plastic container and let your child explore and experiment. If you place the rice without mixing the colors they will have fun seeing the colors mix. They will get a new fun sensation on their hands as they swish and swirl and move it all around in different directions.

You can also add a variety of spoons, sticks and containers to the mix. They can fill and dump the rice. Feel the weight in the containers. You can also start to encourage some pretend play. Maybe they will cook you something for dinner? You can hide objects in it. They can find it by using their eyes or if they want an extra challenge let them keep their eyes closed. For example ask them to find a ball or a small toy car by only using their hands. Don’t let them pick.

Let them explore and see what they come up with. Also if you do not want to reuse the rice you might consider pouring in some water and see what happens.

 

 

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

 

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Occupational Therapist Registered & Licensed, Associated Learning & Language Specialists. Founder of SensoryLifestyle.com and BabyLog app.

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