Category: Sensory Craft

Search Bottle

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Still have all these goodies from your gel pack?!  Or do you have a bunch of small objects that need a home?  Then let’s make a search bottle!

What is a search bottle, you ask?  It’s a fabulous FOCUS tool, for keeping eyes, hands, and minds busy!  The search bottle is filled with small objects that appear when you rotate and shake the bottle.  For kiddos and teens that get easily anxious, overwhelmed, even bored, it gives them something to keep them occupied and can take their mind off of what is bothering them.  You can make a list of all of the objects and attach to the bottle, giving a specific task to complete. Challenging them to find all of the item on the list can extend the life of the activity!  Sounds good, and you have a pile of small objects hanging around?  Then you are ready!

Materials needed:

  • small objects such as pompoms, googly eyes, beads, jewels, small figures, dice, buttons, and anything else you can find
  • leftover bottle, clean and dry
  • filler, such as rice, beans, craft pellets
  • Optional — super glue to seal the bottle tight

Directions

Lay out and count your objects.  This may be the best time to make your list so you are sure to keep track of all of the objects you plan to include.

 

Pour a few items into the bottle, then add some filler.  Continue until you had added all objects and the bottle is filled with at least a 2 inch gap at the top, to allow items to move freely.  A funnel can help with filling, but not totally necessary.  For my search bottle, I used the craft pellets that I use when I make weighted blankets.  I chose this material because I had it and thought it would look pretty, but if you have rice or beans at home right now, they will do the trick!

Tada!  Attach your list and glue on your lid and your search bottle is good to go!  Great as a coping tool, busy tool, or activity to do while waiting 🙂

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.

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.

 

 

DIY Chew Necklace

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Working in a community-based non-profit, I have become pretty crafty and frugal with supplying sensory tools.  One tool that is requested frequently, but beyond our budget to supply, is the chew tube.  So I did some brainstorming and came up with my own version of a chew necklace.  First, I reached out to plumbing supply companies to find clear vinyl tubing that was FDA approved, food quality, and durable enough for chewing.  I found this item, and it was quite inexpensive, about forty cents a foot!  I did have to buy a whole spool to save on shipping, but this spool has lasted years!

Then I thought about what material to make the necklace out of that might look natural, so that kids of all ages could use this chew necklace, without it being an obvious sensory tool.  It also needed to be durable, and of course, affordable, so I went with faux leather lacing.  To make the necklace, I simply braided the leather lacing and added 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces of tubing on at regular intervals, and voila! a hand-made inexpensive chew necklace!  Here are my step-by-step directions if you want to try this for yourself or your CHEWER!

Materials:
~clear vinyl tubing, 1/4″ diameter, cut into three to six 1 – 1.5 inch pieces
~leather lacing, about 6 feet
~tape
~scissors

Directions:

1. Cut one piece, your preferred color to about 4 feet.  Cut the second piece to about 2 feet.

2. Fold the longer piece in half, and make a knot at the fold, incorporating the shorter piece into the knot.

3. Tape it down, and begin your braid.

4.  Add on one of your pieces of tubing and then continue your braid.

5. Continue to braid and add pieces, ending with a longer braid, similar to that at the beginning of the necklace.

6.  Tie a knot by making a loop and pulling tight,  This knot will fit through your initial loop to close of the necklace.

Now that your necklace is done, I would love to share with you why these chew necklaces are so beneficial!

Many of us have habits that provide oral motor input that help us to feel awake or calm, depending on what our bodies needs.  Going to a stressful meeting?, chewing gum or biting on your straw can help you to feel calm and in control.  On the other hand, going to a boring meeting? popping a chip in your mouth or sipping ice water can help pep you up.  Some of our kids and teens that struggle with regulating their bodies haven’t learned these little tricks that we have.  Instead, they may chew slash destroy their shirt collars or bite their fingernails.  If they are going to chew, why not give them a strategy that can be discreet and helpful?

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.