Brrr…seems like old man winter has a grip on much of the nation right now. Although the holidays and winter are a great time for sensory outdoor activities (see our blog on Sensory Exploration) in some areas, the weather can impact the fun and safety of being in nature. All children, especially those with special needs still need daily doses of sensory input (movement, deep touch pressure, touch, and eye & ear tools) despite the thermometer reading. This may mean moving the sensory play indoors.
Need ideas? Here are a few of our favorites:
Movement and Deep Touch Pressure
Set up a short indoor obstacle course that involves crawling. Crawling has benefits well past the toddler years that include
- calming by activating the heavy work receptors in the muscles and joints
- building bilateral motor skills or coordination of the two sides of the body
- improving handwriting by developing the large muscles of the shoulders, arms and wrists to provide stability and endurance for writing skills
- building core stability to help with developing good posture in sitting
Tunnels are a wonderful way of implementing crawling activities. Use empty appliance boxes open on both ends or check out the portable Fun Tube Tunnel which folds up quickly when not in use. Add motor planning skills to the adventure by having the child push a large ball through the tunnel. A beach ball, therapy ball or the lightweight Fingerlight Balls are all good options.
Combine insta snow in a (strong!) reseal able plastic bag with basic hair gel, glitter, and marshmallows. Makes for wonderful tactile exploration and designs as you push fingers along the outside of the bag. Pop it in the refrigerator for 30 min. or so to cool off for additional sensory input.
Here’s another variation called snow slime using liquid starch and glue. Add glitter, confetti, and/or your own favorite action or animal toy figures. Adult supervision recommended.
Indoor flashlight games make great practice for visual tracking skills. Lie on the floor with your child. Use your pen flashlight (not a laser pen!) to track lines, shapes etc. on the ceiling and have your child “chase” your beam with his flashlight. Sit slightly behind child to play flashlight tag by turning on beam and shining it in different parts of the room (ceiling, floor, walls). Once the child locates the beam and points (or matches the beam with his/her light) then quickly turn off your light and turn back on in a new location.
Let’s go Ice Fishing! Use a file box or medium size box to cover a small laundry or similar type file basket. Flip over and cut a hole in the bottom of the box. The box becomes the ice and the hole is the top of the ice. Using a Magnetic Fishing Game set or similar place the fish in inside the basket then cover the basket with the ice box. Insert the fishing rod into the cut out to go ice fishing.
Finally, instead of online gaming, how about an old school game of Classic Simon from Hasbro. Great for turn taking and working on light and sound recognition and recall helps build auditory and visual perception skills.
With a bit of creativity you can provide tons of indoor fun with that just right sensory input. Stay warm and Happy Holidays from Abilitations!