One of my favorite places to visit and check out is the website, The Sensory World http://sensoryworld.com/. It has a wonderful magazine, and many free articles and resources for parents. I saw the latest issue has suggestions for indoor sensory play. I haven’t had a chance to read the article yet, but wanted to put together a list for parents for this winter season.
This time of year is in one way, wonderful, because we are over the often over-stimulating holidays. However, in another sense, this time of year can be difficult for parents and for children who have sensory processing challenges due to the cold weather. I am all for having children go outside when it is cold, but it also another thing when I am getting letters from readers in Canada and other places where the HIGH temperature for the day is –40 degrees Fahrenheit. That is cold no matter what wonderful clothes one has for their child!
One aspect I think that often gets overlooked in sensory processing literature and by parents is that one of the best sensory things to do is not to find another thing to play with or buy (not that these things and gadgets are not fun!) but to involve children in meaningful work. Pushing against resistance is proprioceptive input, and proprioceptive input is wonderful for balancing all aspects of the sensory system.
Examples of meaningful proprioceptive work includes:
- Carrying or pushing a laundry basket full of heavy clothes
- Carrying in or pushing wood for the fireplace
- Washing windows
- Transferring wet laundry to the dryer if you use a dryer
- Carrying groceries (or ingredients to the kitchen counter)
- Mopping a floor
- Wiping down a shower, tub or sink
- In cooking – stirring, pressing, kneading
Have a rhythm to your week so each day there is opportunity for this for your Early Years children and everyone in the family!
For “play as proprioceptive activities”:
- Any sort of crawling game
- Jumping on a mini-trampoline, jumping into a bean bag (supervise!!)
- Wrestling and rough-housing – just watch for signs of overstimulation. Some children with sensory processing challenges can’t handle this activity.
- Crab-walking – can crab-walk in races, or kick a balloon with feet and see how long you can keep the ball up in the air
- Wheelbarrow race or wheelbarrow around obstacles
- Scooter board races on stomach
- Tug of war with rope
- Potato sack races (large pillowcases work well)
- Twister (middle grades children)
- Any climbing or hanging toys
For developing the shoulder girdle and hands for academic work:
- All practical work mentioned above develops core strength needed for stability of the shoulder girdle and hands for academic work
- Playing dress up and holding arms out to put on bracelets, rings, etc
- Drawing and erasing on a chalkboard (especially if chalkboard is on the wall so the child has to stand upright)
- Using clothespins,
- Spraying down windows, doors, etc with a spray bottle and wiping
- Using scissors to cut snakes of salt dough, paper, etc
- Using rolling pins in baking or with salt dough
Please share your best ideas! I didn’t include jumping and swinging activities, but those could also be included in this list for both proprioceptive and vestibular input.