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.

Week 14 Sensory Play

Edible water beads

Water Beads

 

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

How to play:

Equipment: I love water beads however I was looking for a more edible alternative. I came across Boba pearls. They are tapioca balls used in a popular Taiwanese drink and easily available on amazon.  For a variety of colors I would recommend the rainbow boba. If you follow the instructions they are ready within 5 minutes.

Once they are cooked and cooled they are ready to be enjoyed. I added some food dye to some of them for extra color.

If used without water you will get a little bit of a sticky play experience. If used with water it will be a more slippery play experience.

Here are some ideas of what you can do with these water beads:

  • Explore with hands
  • Explore with feet
  • Squish them
  • Place in a container of water
  • Add shaving cream
  • Scoop into smaller containers using spoons or other kitchen utensils
  • Sort into muffin tin
  • Manipulate with kids buckets, shovels, sifters etc.

Found another fun activity you can do with these little beads? Leave me a comment below.

Week 15 Sensory Play

Rolling down hills

Rolling down hills

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Body awareness, coordination and motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan & carry out an unfamiliar task) Tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Just as the name implies this is all about rolling down hills. I remember when I was a small child this was one of my favorite things to do. Whenever we went to parks I always looked out for tall hills. As soon as I did I would run up, lie on the grass and down I went. Rolling all the way to the bottom.

These days I don’t see it as much so let’s get our kids to the top of those hills and encourage them to roll. For the little ones they may require help getting them started. Hopefully with a few rolls they get the hang of it and also get motivated by the fun.

Week 16 Sensory Play

Spray bottle fun with a twist

Spray bottle fun

 

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

How to play:

Depending on how much time for preparation you have you can do this activity two different ways.

The first, is to get a large piece of white paper and attach it to a fence or a wall.

The second, way is to cut out various shapes from white paper. The shapes can be as simple as circles, triangles or as complex as letters, cars, flowers, leaves etc. It really depends on your own skill and time that you have available.

Next, mix some water with food coloring. Place it into a spray bottle and let the fun begin.  Stick your paper on a wall or a fence and let them spray away. You may want to switch the water out for different colors or have different bottles ready.

Not only is this a really fun activity but it’s great at strengthening all those small muscles in their hands. Initially they may be using two hands to squeeze the lever and as their strength builds they will only need to use one hand. An additional benefit to this activity is that it helps to separate the hand into two parts, which is important for many skills such as cutting.

Week 17 Sensory Play

Lizard Fun

Popcorn eating

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Bilateral coordination, oral motor, shoulder & core strengthening skills Tactile, gustatory (taste) and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

If your child loves popcorn this is a fun game for snack or anytime really. If they don’t like popcorn you can substitute with cheerios, pirate’s booty or anything else that will stick to their tongue.

Basically this is a challenge game. To get going have them lying belly down on the floor. Then place popcorn on a plate and place it in front of them.

The goal is to eat the popcorn off the plate without using their hands. Basically get that mouth going! Depending on the age of your child you can either challenge them to finish the plate off without using their hands. Or you can time them in how fast they can finish it off.

Have fun and get eating!!

Week 18 Sensory Play

Clean Mess

  Clean Mess with the boys

This activity is really fun! That is if your child is into playing with slimy textures.

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

How to play:

Equipment: Large container of water, dish soap and toilet paper.

First, place some dish soap (just enough to make some bubbles) into your water. Then, your child can tear small pieces of toilet paper and throw them into the water. As your child mixes all the ingredients together they will create a soft and slimy texture. Many children love to explore it with their hands. They can even try squeezing some of the paper together into balls while strengthening the muscles in their hands. You can also encourage putting their feet in to see how that feels. Make sure you support your little one climbing in and out so they don’t slip.

If you get bored of the white color you can always add some food coloring to make it more colorful.

MODIFICATIONS: Do you have a child who is cautious with new textures? If yes then you can explore the texture through the use of a large wooden spoon, a whisk or gloves.

Week 19 Sensory Play

Animal walk parachute game

Parachute game

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Body awareness, strengthening of shoulders, arms & core, coordination between right and left sides of the body, balance and motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task) Vestibular and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

Equipment needed: Parachute, small animals and friends

Parachute games are so much fun and you can play with them so many different ways. This activity is one way that you can get working on many great skills (see above).

The main idea is to place different animal toys into the parachute and then get them flying.

NOTE: Don’t include large plastic animals. You definitely wouldn’t want to get hit by anything large and plastic. Use either plush animals or small plastic ones.

The goal of the game is to first grab a fallen animal. Then, pretend to be that animal by imitating and doing different animal walks.  Some examples can include:

  • Kangaroo: can be jumping around
  • Bear: walk on all fours
  • Lizard: commando crawl on the ground
  • Donkey: can do some donkey kicks
  • Zebra: can do some galloping

If you are unsure what an animal can do have your child come up with it or just be creative!

Week 20 Sensory Play

Bubble snake

Bubble snake

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
  Hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination, oral motor and visual skills Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

This is one of the funnest bubble activities. To start, you or your child will need to build your bubble construction. Don’t worry, it’s fast and simple!

  1. Get your equipment ready:
    • empty water bottle
    • old sock
    • elastic band
    • scissors
    • bubble solution
    • empty container
  2. Cut out the bottom of your bottle
  3. Place the sock over the hole and secure it with an elastic band
  4. Dip the sock end into the bubble solution
  5. Fill your lungs out with air and BLOW!!!
  6. Watch the fun bubble snake appear

The bubbles don’t necessary have to stay a snake. They can be a train, a rocket or even a trumpet.  Get the kids started and see where their imagination gets them.

Have fun and get going with those creations!

Week 21 Sensory Play

Mud Fun!

Mud Play

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
 Hand & finger strength, body awareness and balance skills Tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to play:

This is my old time favorite activity. I have lots of fun and muddy memories from when I was a child.

Yes, your child will get dirty. But the fun could last for hours! All you need is dirt and water. Anything extra like sand toys, sticks and rocks are all an added bonus.

Getting ready: To make this fun for your child and painless for you, here are few things you will need:

  • Change of clothes in case your child gets super excited
  • Water to wash the dirt off
  • You can bring some sand toys that can add to the fun
  • Water! Lots of water to help with the mud creation
  • Find a spot of dry dirt that your child can play in and create mud

You can start your child off by showing them what happens when you pour water onto dirt. Encourage them to interact with it. They can use sticks, their hands or their feet to mix the water and the dirt. Give them the opportunity to also:

  • Pour water onto dirt
  • Swish it around
  • Make it into balls
  • Paint a rock with dirt
  • Make a river by using a stick and pouring water in to the groove
  • Stick mud onto rocks, tress etc
  • Make mud pies
  • Create their own ideas
  • Most of all HAVE FUN and GET DIRTY!!

Week 22 Sensory Play

Stomp Painting

Paint stomping

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Balance, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task) and visual skills. Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses.

How to Play:

This activity is lots of fun, but it can get a little messy. I would recommend doing it either outside or staying away from carpeted areas.

Simply place a long strip of paper on the floor (I used banner paper) with paint blobs on the corners. I found that using paper plates for paint placement gets more paint stuck to the feet which makes the activity more messy and slippery.

Then let your child stomp away creating a master piece.

Week 23 Sensory Play

Messy experiment

Messy experiment

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

How to play:

This is a fun way to get your kids to experiment with texture. Get a large bowl or a container and have your kids add different items to experiment with textures. The great thing about this activity is that each kid controls exactly how far they want to push their comfort zone. The textures can move from dry consistency to wet. They can be sticky or lumpy. Anything… it’s only limited by the materials that you give them.

Some ideas include:

  • Shaving cream
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Cream of tartar
  • Food coloring
  • Glitter (be warned as it sticks everywhere… but looks beautiful!)
  • Rice
  • Packaging noodles

They can also practice their mathematical skills by measuring all the ingredients. Then they can practice their scientific skills by analyzing and comparing their results as they mix different amounts.

MODIFICATIONS: Do you have a child who is cautious with new textures? If yes then they can mix all the ingredients with a spoon or a whisk.

 

 

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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