Our smiles and fun were enough to lift the gloomy gray clouds–we had fun despite the weather!

Sensory Activities for the Sensory Kits. Sensory Carnival 2023

1. Tactile Activity: Touch helps us learn about our world. Touch can be soothing or irritating. It tells us about different qualities of things, helps us localize touch, helps us be more precise with our motor movements, and helps protect us by alerting us quickly to something that causes pain (think hot stove). Many children love to get messy and some do not. Try making your own stress ball! You will only need a few supplies.
Flour (included in sensory kit)
Balloon (included in sensory kit)
Funnel or firm paper to use as a funnel
Plastic bottle
Sharpie or other marker
Green yarn (optional)
Flour works really well for stress balls-though you can use rice or sand if desired. You will need approximately a cup full of flour to make a nice hand sized stress ball. Begin by adding your flour to the plastic bottle. Once all the flour is in the bottle, blow up your balloon and carefully place it over the top of your bottle. Turn the bottle upside down while holding the balloon and gently squeeze the bottle to help push the flour into the balloon. Once all the flour is in the balloon, gently let the rest of the air out of the balloon. This part can get a little messy as sometimes some of the flour squirts out of the balloon! Tie a knot in your balloon and now you are ready to decorate. Draw a pumpkin face on your orange balloon or a ghost face on your white balloon. Tie some green yarn pieces around the knot end of the pumpkin stress ball for a stem if desired. You can watch a video https://www.redtedart.com/make-a-stress-ball-halloween/.  Many of you might have heard of the term fidget toys. Fidget spinners, stretchy noodles, clickers, and pop its are just some examples. Fidgets help us stay more alert by providing a little movement for our bodies. Have your child squeeze
the stress ball when they need to sit still and listen or perhaps on a long car ride. The squeezing motion uses the proprioceptive system and that type of input can be organizing for the sensory system.

2. Proprioception and Vestibular Activity: Proprioception is the sensory information from receptors located in our muscles and joints that tells us about how our body is moving. This then helps us know where we are (without having to look), helps us decide how much force and speed to use, and helps us maintain balance. It works together with our Vestibular system to allow us to move through space. Our Vestibular system is located in our inner ear. It is essential to help us maintain balance, postural control, spatial
orientation, muscle tone, and alertness. Our visual system is closely connected with it as well. When our head moves, it gives us information about where we are in space and how fast or slow we are moving (am I upside down, sideways, or moving forward?).  Jump and Move: Place the colored Velcro dots on the floor about 2 feet apart. They will stick to the carpet. If you do not have carpet, you may want to secure them to the floor with some low stick tape. Practice jumping from one to the other. Try increasing the distance between the dots. How hard do you have to push with your legs to jump? How do you not fall over? Can you jump high? Try moving in different ways to between the dots. Can you somersault? Hop
on one foot? Jump backwards? Spin in a circle around the dots? Try closing your eyes!

3. Taste: Taste is a familiar sense to most of us. Did you know that sweet foods are calming to the sensory system? That sour and spicy tastes are alerting-they wake you up? Bitter foods are also alerting-usually telling us to avoid that food. Salty and Umami (meaty) are 2 other tastes among a few others. In addition, we can detect the temperature of food.  We also get tactile and proprioceptive feedback from our mouths. Tactile refers to the different food textures we encounter. The proprioceptors are in the mouth and jaw muscles and help us know where are teeth, tongue and lips
are as well as how hard we need to chew (force). All without using any vision to help us! And, did you know that different mouth motions and foods can influence our level of alertness? Sucking is calming, chewing is organizing,
crunching is alerting, warm is calming, and cold is alerting? Try the crunchy cracker snack. How does it taste? Can you smell it? Do you like to suck on it, bite it, or lick it? Do you like one cracker at a time or several?

4. Auditory: This is another familiar sense. Most of us know the basics of hearing but did you know that there is auditory perception just like there is visual perception? Auditory figure ground is being able to pull out a specific sound among many other noises. For example, hearing the person you are having a conversation with in a noisy restaurant. Or that we use sound to locate danger or safety? Hearing is one of the first senses that is alerted in instances of danger. Forvexample, we can hear the storm coming before we see it. We can use sound to locate another person (I’m over here!).  You can make your own musical instrument! You only need a few supplies.
2 small paper plates (included)
Chenille stems or twist ties (included)
Jingle bells (included)
Dry beans or small pebbles, optional
Put the two paper plates together, top side facing each other, and punch 5 holes, evenly spaced apart. If you don’t have a hole punch, you can use a nail or ice pick. An adult should do this step. Next, decorate the bottom side of the plates. You can paint them, use crayons or markers, or stickers and glitter. Whatever you want! Cut the chenille stems into 5 1” pieces. String the jingle bell to the middle of the stem and ben it in half. Place the paper plates together, undecorated sides facing each other and line up the holes. Place the first jingle bell through the hole and twist it together. Repeat with the other jingle bells. You can place small pebbles or dried beans inside of the plates for extra musical rattle! More instructions https://www.firstpalette.com/craft/paper-plate-tambourine.html.  Take the tambourine, play a version of hide, and seek. Instead of using vision to seek you, have your child close their eyes and try to find where you are in the room from listening to the sound. Reverse it and have them be the hider.
You can blindfold those that have difficulty keeping their eyes closed.

5. Vision: Our sense of vision helps us make sense of the world by providing lots of information. Color, light, size, shape, distance, and discrimination are some of the types of information we can receive visually. Try this fun visual activity.  Using a cardboard tube, go on a visual scavenger hunt. You can have your child decorate the tube in advance with colored tape, markers, stickers, or colored paper. Make a list of a few common outdoor objects such as a red leaf, a yellow leaf, an acorn, a squirrel, a rock, a stick, a bird, a cloud, etc. Have your children use the “telescope” to find the objects. How does that change what you see when you only see some of it? What do you miss only looking at it through the tube? Be safe and hold an adult’s hand when looking through the tube and walking at the same time!

6. An obstacle course can stimulate several sense at once. We use our vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, possibly tactile, and motor planning skills to maneuver through an obstacle course. Use the chalk in the kit to make an outdoor obstacle course. Make different kinds of lines to walk on, hopscotch, circles or shapes to jump on, or try writing words for your older kids to follow such as clap your hands 3 times, hop on one foot, dance, spin in circles. Use arrows or symbols to indicate directions or incorporate the alphabet letters or numbers for the preschoolers. Have your child make one for you!

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