Five Fun Sensory Activities To Engage Children and Adults

Sensory Toys
Colorful shiny jelly set on the dark background

Sensory toys, games and activities have so many benefits to children with various additional needs owing to the multitude of ways these resources can be used. they can promote language development and reinforcement through storytelling.

Elevate Musical Instruments Percussion Kit for Children with Autism, Special Needs, Child Development plus Sensory Toy Activity Card
Elevate Musical Instruments Percussion Kit for Children with Autism, Special Needs, Child Development plus Sensory Toy Activity Card

For children with sensory processing difficulties sensory toys and equipment enables them to explore and encounter new sensations in a limitless but safe way. Gradually over time engaging is such activities can be used to help a child who is tactile defensive to explore different types of sensation.

Try some of these sensory toy games and activities with children or make suggestions to foster carers, parents and teachers to use some of these activities and games safely.

Learn Colours With A Sensory Bath

A Yellow water bath (or any other colour) can be the ideal way for your kids to learn colours.Having some sensory fun and learning the colour yellow in the bath with yellow water balloons and yellow bath water. The excitement and joy of this activity is priceless!

To add colour to the water you don’t need a lot of food colour, just a lid full under the the running water. Alternatively, if you do not like the idea of food colouring in your child’s bath you could use a bath bomb to colour the water. So much fun can be had from the children as they squeeze the water balloons into different shapes and drop them in the water.

Giggles and laughter all round as your child is learning colours. You could also place some of your child’s yellow coloured toys in the bath with them for further understanding.

Fluffy Snow Sensory Play

Making Fluffy Snow using soap flakes is a fun and messy sensory play activity. It is also a great way to incorporate a Christmas theme, especially if you live somewhere where it doesn’t snow. But it is fun and encourages a lot of learning, which is what it’s all about!
Kids will have the time of their lives finding fun ways to explore the fluffy mixture; squashing, feeling and playing with it.

To make fluffy snow you will need:
1 cup of Soap Flakes
3 cups of warm water
and a large mixing bowl

As you beat the mixture it multiplies, kids love to watch the transformation of the clear watery liquid mixture to a thick white blob. Then you  and your kids are free to play, explore and learn with the Fluffy Snow!

Scented Rice Sensory Play

This activity is a great way to create a sensory play table with all kinds of tools to explore with.

To do this you will need:
Strawberry essence and food colouring
a range of scoops, shovels, sifts, funnels or anything else
and a large container

This sensory play is unconstructed and allows kids to explore freely. It is great for all ages, from the very young to the big kids. It’s even therapeutic for the adults, we all love to play! This can be a several person activity which requires teamwork, social interactions and problem solving. Experimenting with new things to see what happens and exploring cause and effect are very beneficial.

Garden Water Park

Kids absolutely adore water parks, so with it approaching the summer holidays, a garden water park is an upcoming must! They are a lot of fun for kids, it gets them outdoors and active also secretly encourages many learning opportunities.

You can set up a range of different themed stations for kids to play and explore. One of these can be a Water Balloon Pool, a sensory toy play pool which includes about 35 balloons filled with water. Cheap paddling pools can be purchased from local stores. You can also purchase water squirters for as cheap as cheaply or you may already have a few hidden in the shed! Another popular ideal sensory toy is to use a long sheet of plastic such as a shower curtain and add washing up liquid to create a DIY slip ‘n’ slide.

With little money you can turn your back garden into a water park!

Sensory Play With Jelly

Ooey, gooey, slushy and messy! Playing with jelly!

Playing with Jelly is a sensory activity for kids to explore their senses the many wonderful textures and qualities of jelly. Yummy too!

You will need:
An assortment of plastic containers
Tray or container (to put the mess in)

Explore the senses with your child, talk about all the wonderful describing words of how the jelly feels in your hands; squishy, sticky, slippery, slimey, sloppy and smooth. You can explore other senses too: how it smelt, what it sounds like and how colourful it is. This is a great way for your child to learn some new describing words.

We provide sensory activities and products for social workers, parents and carers in the UK and USA to support work with children and adults with special needs including trauma. Visit Elevate Training and Development for more information and our Social Work Continuing Professional Development Online service for more ideas about direct work with service users.

Funding Free Tracking Devices for Children with Autism

Mom with Son Wearing Backpack 1Last week, the Justice Department announced that it would promptly make funding available to provide free tracking devices for children with autism.  The devices will be provided to families with children who are at risk or have a history of, wandering and elopement.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the Department already has the funding needed to make this technology available.  Police departments have been given the green light to apply for funding; departments can use the funding awarded to pay for tracking devices to be allocated to families that want them.  This new plan is modeled after the federal program in place that supplies similar devices to families of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

The wandering and elopement of children with autism have gained much attention due to the tragic passing of Avonté Oquendo, a 14 years old teen who went missing in New York in mid-October.  So many across the nation had hoped and prayed for Avonté’s safe return to his family, including yours truly.  Avonté’s story shone a spotlight on the thousands of children with special needs who are reported missing each year in this country.

The numbers regarding those with disabilities who are reported missing are astounding.  In 2012, there were 30,269 individuals with disabilities who were reported missing, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (the FBI) National Crime Information Center (NCIC).  Of that figure, 3,570 were those under the age of 21, and 26,699 were those age 21 and older.  The number of children missing in 2012 was noticeably less than what was reported in 2011.  In 2011, 6,340 of those reported missing with a disability were under the age of 21.  If we were to combine those figures, almost 10,000 children with disabilities were missing within the past three years.

The focus on those with autism is dire because children with autism spectrum disorders have a higher risk of wandering and eloping than children with other special needs.  It has been noted that about half of children with autism will wander and elope; close to one-third of these children are nonverbal, and are unable to communicate their identities to someone if they are spotted.  Children with autism who wander from safe environments such as their homes or school grounds have a tendency to seek bodies of water or may have interests in active highways, trains, and the like.  Any of these predicaments or fascinations could cause the child to place her or himself in harm’s way while they attempt to “explore” these new surroundings.

The action taken by the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Holder is encouraging; the needs of people with disabilities, especially our children, are in the consciousness of those on the federal level.  This new technology has the potential to save the lives of our children, as well as others who may wander from their safe environments.

What are your thoughts about this new initiative?  Is your family one of many in this country who could benefit from using these tracking devices?  If you are currently utilizing a tracking device to keep your loved one(s) safe, what benefits or drawbacks of this technology have you experienced?  Share your thoughts and stories regarding this subject with me.

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of Digital Trends.)

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