Toys for Sensory Awareness: Activities to explore textures, sounds, colors, and experiences in a low-pressure setting, using a variety of toys and manipulatives, soothing comfort objects, and beneficial heavy work.
Sensory processing is the ability to take in and respond to the sensory information in the environment. This input can come in many forms, including auditory, visual, tactile, and movement. At times, sensory information can become overwhelming or confusing for kids, causing difficulty in social situations or everyday activities. How can playtime help? Practice! In a low-pressure setting with a focus on fun, children may be more willing to experience various textures, materials, and sounds. This is also an ideal time for heavy work--the loading, carrying, lifting tasks that help us feel located in a definite place in space. As kids get used to sensory input in play, they'll be better equipped to cope with stimuli in everyday life too.
Find sensory input in children's everyday world to help stimulate or regulate the senses.
1. Have children cover a small table or placemat with shaving cream and allow them to trace their names. The shaving cream provides an exciting sensory activity, and making the letters in a new material reinforces letter formation using a multi-sensory approach.
2. For younger children, put the shaving cream in a zippered baggie with a few drops of food coloring and let them work the color into the cream. This provides a safe, neat sensory experience for younger children and also displays how colors can be combined to make new ones!
3. Have children help carry groceries from the car. One or two heavy cans provide a nice weighted activity that can help to regulate sensory input.