Category: Focus Tool

Halloween Themed Sensory Bin

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I love making themed sensory bins, and since Halloween is a favorite in our family, G and I set out to to make one. We found JACKPOT at our local dollar store including sticky eyeballs and a skeleton that could be taken apart and reassembled.  We also found autumn scented dried spices to make our sensory bin smell a bit like a pumpkin pie!  We rushed home, to put this beauty together!To get started, we colored our rice.  G chose the colors orange, yellow and purple.  We added one pound bags of rice, actually brown rice, to gallon Ziploc bags.  We were not sure how well the brown rice would color, but figured we would give it a try, because that is what we had. 

Then we made a plan to color and scent our rice.  After a smell test, we choose cinnamon, clove, and ginger….

Since we had dried spices, we needed to add water to them so they could stick to the rice.  We added one tablespoon of spice to two tablespoons of water and this seemed to do the trick!

          

We put it in the bags and shook, Shook, SHOOK.  We added that mixture onto the rice and then added in about 20 – 30 drops of food coloring to get the colors we wanted.  Then we wiggled and danced and shook again!

   until we had:

We carefully poured them into our bin.

     

Read on for information on how bin size and amount of rice are the key for to making a sensory bin a the perfect tool for regulation and coping.  But first, the finishing touches!  How great are these Halloween add-ins?!  We took the pumpkin stickers and stuck two sticky sides together to keep them from sticking to the rice.  We found an awesome skeleton that could come apart, so we added each individual part to the skeleton.  We finished the bin off with sticky eyeballs, larger eyeballs and stringy centipedes.

Mixing it up was as fun as making it!

So what is so great about a sensory bin anyway?!

1. They provide a variety of sensory inputs – touch, smell, sight, and even sound!

2. Depending on the amount of rice and depth of the bin, they can assist with a variety of needs

~A shallow bin will help with DISCRIMINATION skills.  The more touch opportunities we have to discriminate, or detect the salient qualities of sensory inputs, the better we understand our bodies and how they interact with the environment.  This can help with improving fine motor control and coordination.

~A deep bin will help with MODULATION skills.  The deep rice, like really deep, up to the elbows, provides deep touch pressure which is calming and comforting for the body.   [See SOOTHE for more information on DEEP TOUCH PRESSURE)

3.  They can become a FOCUS tool, especially when you create a list of things to find in the bin.  Or even better, with this bin, to find all the parts of the skeleton and reassemble.

4.  Sensory bins can be used during quiet time, sensory break time, or even classroom stations.

5.  And like many sensory tools, that often seem to appeal to younger ages, I have seen many teenagers fully engaged in making and using sensory bins.

6.  You can be super creative.  Come up with your own theme and go CRAZY!

Recap:

Materials — bin, rice, food coloring, dry spices, water, miscellaneous decorative supplies of different textures

Directions

  1. Pour rice into Ziploc bags
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of water to 1 tablespoon of dried spice and stir
  3. Pour mixture over rice and shake
  4. Add 20 – 30 drops of food coloring per bag of rice to create colored rice
  5. Pour rice into bin
  6. Add decorative materials
  7. Mix and have fun!

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

 

 

Balloon Stress Balls

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So balloon stress balls seem pretty straight forward, right?  Fill the balloon with some flour, and…. then there is flour EVERYWHERE!   I am so happy to share with you the magic tool:

 

Tada!  A bottle with the bottom cut off will become your best stress ball making friend.  So grab some household objects and some balloons and get to filling!

Suggested fillers — flour, cornstarch, salt, rice, beads, beans

Directions:

1. It help to blow up the balloon at first, so its stretched and can be easily filled.  G was happy to help with that part and her skills were quiet impressive!

 

2. Place the stretched balloon over the lip of the bottomless bottle. 

3. Pour your filler into the bottle and pull the balloon down to fill.  Keep pouring filler into the bottle until your balloon is plump and squeezable.   4. Tie it off.  To make it more secure and less pop-able, cut the lip off of a second balloon and put this filled balloon into another balloon.  Even with the lip cut off, you should still be able to knot this second balloon.  And you have successfully and mess-lessly made a stress ball!  and Bruin approves!!

Now let’s take this stress ball and make a sensory game!  Your challenge – choose your fillers, at least four.  With each filler, make two stress balls, so you have a total of eight, and each has a match.

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I won’t tell you what is in my stress balls, it’s a guessing game 😉

This stress ball matching game is perfect to use as a fidget or focus tool!

 

Here are some other benefits – –

Spending time, squeezing each stress ball to try to find its match can help to soothe and release tension.

Participants can feel satisfied once they have successfully matched each pair.

After the challenge is complete, have them make another set to share or keep.

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

 

Squishy Fidget Gel Packs

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One of my favorite simple, affordable sensory crafts for all ages is the Squishy Fidget Gel Pack!

Here are some of the fabulous benefits – –
1. The process of creating can assist with feelings of self-mastery and self-efficacy.  So your kiddo will feel proud of what they made!
2.  Participating in the project engages the senses – – touch, sight, smell – –  providing a regulating experience.
3. The finished product makes a fabulous fidget tool.  This tool can appeal to the sense of touch as it is manipulated and squeezed.  It can can also be very visually pleasing, and offer some distraction while searching for specific items.
BONUS!  You can store this in the refrigerator, adding cold temperature to the experience.

If all of the benefits aren’t enough, this is a low cost project!  You can head to your local dollar store for most of these materials…

Materials needed –
ziploc bags
hair gel
colorful duct tape
miscellaneous small items such as pom poms, buttons, gem stones, glitter, foam shapes. Avoid items with sharp or pointed edges

Organizing the small items can be helpful for the selection process and well as the clean-up process.

Directions – –
1. Grab your ziploc bag and fill it about 1/4 – 1/3 of the way with hair gel. 
….as you can see, this can get a little messy, but that’s all part of the sensory experience, right? 😉  My C sure didn’t mind!

2. Now fill the bag with as many small objects as you would like.  Today we used pompoms, butterfly gemstones, googly eyes, and beads.  We were a little sad because we didn’t have any glitter!  We highly recommend adding glitter!!

3. Lay the bag flat, squish out all the air bubbles, and close the bag.  The place another ziploc bag over your gel filled bag, with zippers in opposite directions.  Squeeze air bubbles out again and seal.  Another bag gives extra protection and prevents messy gel pack explosions!

4. Tear 4 strips of duct tape that are the length of each side of the bag.  Place one piece halfway along the edge of the bag and fold over.  Then repeat along each side to frame the bag.

5.  You completed your Squishy Fidget Gel Pack!  So much fun to make right?  But now what are you going to do with it?  Here are  a few activities ideas…

Write a list of all of the items inside.  When feeling bored, anxious, overwhelmed take out the list and find your items

Squeeze it, and all of its objects, during a meeting, car ride, or while doing homework

Keep it in your coping kit or calm down space and use it when you need it

Use it to motivate babies.  Tape it to to floor for tummy time or the wall for sitting practice

and most importantly, have fun!!

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.