8 Sensory Strategies for Kids
Teaching sensory-motor strategies is a MUST-DO activity in my book whenever I am dealing with young kids. It’s one of the best forms of therapy that calms kiddos and lowers the chances of a meltdown. Plus, there’s quite a bit of research behind this one and how it repairs neurons damaged from stress or trauma.
If you are looking for peace or quiet time to relax, having your kiddo engaged is the trick here. Other times, you need to prepare dinner or work without chaos. Getting their little body parts moving helps a ton when trying to accomplish these things. And it’s super-duper fun! No really….it is!
Before we get to the sensory strategies, let’s first look at the guidelines to follow.
DON’T FORCE YOUR CHILD TO DO THE ACTIVITY (THIS ONE SHOULD SEEM LIKE A NO-BRAINER.
One, it’s not homework, and two, it’s not medicine. Any activity (or learning) goes well if kids are motivated and having fun participating. Sometimes, the sensory activity may be overwhelming or perceived as painful by their unique sensory system. That’s an obvious sign to stop or try something different.
That said, you might need to give them a little push out of their comfort zone, but remember to follow their lead. This is fun, remember? A sensory skill is excellent for their development, but it will backfire if it’s forced.
We’re trying to reduce stress, not add it!
INSPIRE, BUT DON’T OVERWHELM.
I know the list can be exciting, and it might tempt you to try as many activities as you can. Taking it slow is always the best policy when doing something new. Keep it simple, see how they respond, and move on. “Too much, too fast, won’t last.” -Eric Jensen
THE SENSORY ACTIVITY MAY CHANGE FROM TIME TO TIME.
Nothing is written in stone. An activity that worked today may not work tomorrow, and what didn’t work doesn’t mean it will never work. It’s okay for kiddos to opt for another sensory strategy or activity. Don’t stress — go with the flow. #lessstress
WATCH HOW THEY RESPOND DURING AND AFTER THE ACTIVITY.
Observing their response helps you know which activities work and other similar activities to try out. Is your child calmer? More focused? Communicating better? Sleeping better? Eating better? Do they follow instructions quicker? This mindfulness practice can help you hone in on the sensory activities that work for them.
I created the perfect list for the best sensory-motor activities that your kiddos can do, from squeezing to pinching, kneading, chopping, squishing, and jumping. The only sure thing is that the tons of smiles and giggles will be the cherry on the cake.
Now let’s roll…or jump!
You can have kiddos jump on a bed, couch, or trampoline. It’s simple, but so much fun.
You can also collect all the pillows you have at home. The more, the merrier! Arrange them in a straight line on the floor and show your toddler or preschooler to walk (or possibly jump if safe) on them. That’s it.
If jumping is too much, take it a notch down and do a few different bouncing activities like bouncing on an exercise ball.
For older kiddos, spread the pillows apart and have them jumping from one “island” to another. Or, go for the hop, skip and jump game.
Set up a target for kiddos to throw stuff at. Whether it’s mud or bean bags, it’s going to be a blast. They can squirt water at these targets too!
Don’t kiddos just love to dive in a box of “garbage” and look for their favorite toy? It’s a classic activity that doesn’t get enough credit.
It’s like a GIANT sensory bin. So, maybe ask them to find a toy you know is at the bottom or hide something down there for them to find.
Legos never get old. It’s a multi-purpose kit that contributes to kiddos’ sensory input and hands strengthening thus, improving their motor skills. That is until we step on one. How can such a cool thing cause such a great amount of pain?
Who can create the highest tower?!?
Magnetic tiles are a steal! I have found kiddos can sit still for an extended period playing magnets. Encourage them to double up on the sensory components by drawing or coloring what they made.
If your kid loves visuals, you can bury shiny treasures in the playdough and have them go hunting. It’s a great sensory input task for kids, and fishing them out with their little hands helps their motor development too.
Regardless of your child’s age, they will surely enjoy swinging. It can be either outdoor or indoor swings. Don’t have a swing? Then present…sit on the floor and move your body like you are flying high into the sky!
Playing with textures
It helps kiddos stimulate their tactile senses. You can help your child knead dough or play with goop. A banana marshmallow slime can also be great to squeeze and quite the mess ;). But, even if kiddos take a bite, it’s okay.
Whether you are outdoors or cooped up inside, these sensory-motor activities will surely calm your kiddo.
Want to know the science behind it? Well, our biological nature requires us to tap into creativity and senses. Why? Because our ancestors needed to, to survive. So, due to our biology, our bodies are seeking this input. #funfacts
I hope all their energy is taken care of now!