Category: Sensory Craft

Slime Time!

G was recently inspired by a book she has been reading called “My Pet Slime” and has been begging to make her own pet slime for about a week.  Of course, each time the idea to make slime pops into her head, we are headed out in the car or getting ready for bed.  So finally, after may days of asking, we put it in our calendar to make sure it happened!  I totally love making slime, so thoroughly appreciate her passion.

She gathered up all of the materials to make a slime just like in the book.  C got involved too once all of the materials were out.  My favorite slime recipe calls for:

1/2 cup of Elmer’s glue

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1/4 cup Sta-Flo liquid starch

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And then the extras – food coloring, glitter, googly eyes, bits of foam, or anything else you are inspired to add to your slime!

This was a little too sticky and needed the starch tap!

G poured the glue into a bowl and added many drops of blue and red food coloring until she got the perfect purple!  C added blue food coloring and loads of glitter!  Once they were pleased with the color, they added small amounts of the liquid starch, stirred, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then continued until all of the starch was incorporated.  After the starch is mostly absorbed, it is time to pick it up and knead it!  The more you knead it, the less sticky it becomes. But, if after several minutes, it is still sticky, tap it in a bit more liquid starch.

 

Then its time to add items and play!  C added several beads and gems and G added 2 giant googly eyes to make her “pet slime”.  She is still working on a name for this little cutey.

 

 

We made these creations a few days ago, and if you put them in a cup and cover them, they keep!  This slime pet has been coming out every day for adventures!

Hope this slime recipe brings you as much joy as it does for C and G (and myself 🙂 )

 

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.

Yarn Art Mantra

Having a focus word or a “mantra” can help to inspire, elevate, and focus.  I have found many fun and creative ways to find your “word”.  I am excited to be able to share more word finding activities so make sure you SUBSCRIBE!

First up is this Yarn Art Mantra.  Of course, for this one, you already need a word!  I was inspired by the nice weather, finally!  Seeing the buds on the trees and getting to re-pot my seedlings led me to choose G R O W.  I also recently started a new job, so I feel like I have an opportunity to GROW as well.  The kiddos wanted to make slime, of course!, so I took advantage of the newspaper on the table and glue already out, and enjoyed one of my favorite crafts.

This one is very messy!  So best to get everything laid out before you get to work.  The materials you need are Elmer’s glue, yarn, parchment paper, plain paper and a marker.  First write out your bubble letters.  If this is hard, you could always type and print large letters.

Place parchment paper over your letters.

Next you will need to cut your yarn, about 6 – 8 inches a strand.  You will need roughly 8 – 12 strands of yarn per letter.

   

Now that you have everything set up, it is time to get MESSY!  I love getting messy, but this activity can be a tough one for kids with tactile sensitivities.  I have many ask to use gloves.  It’s always fun though to watch the kids that think they don’t want to get messy, and then end up getting really glue-y and into the project!

Pour out some glue onto a plate, dip each strand in, and squeeze some of the extra off.  Use a couple pieces to outline the letter ,then place onto the parchment however you like to fill the letter.  It’s important to make sure several pieces touch the outside border so that it will be strong and stay together when it is finished.

  

Leave to dry overnight.  Peel off the parchment paper, string, and display!!

I hope you have as much fun with your Yarn Art Mantra as I did!  Stay tuned for some other inspirational word activities!

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.

 

Weaving Goodbye!

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I recently left a job that I really cared about.  It was a good move for me, but I knew how much I would miss that job and the people with whom I built relationships.  I decided to create something so I could take a piece of each one of them with me!  And so I created this “termination” activity called Weaving Goodbye!  I took an old frame that I had, removed the glass and the backing so all that remained was the rectangular frame.  I began tying pieces of black floss one one side of the frame.  I placed them about 1/4″ apart.

After tying on one side, I pulled the floss tight and tied to the other side.  To secure the knots, I added tape to the back.

I cut the ends and voila!  Makeshift loom!

I brought a basket of yarn and ribbon that were meaningful to me.  I asked all of my favorite people that I saw in my last few days at work to grab a piece that spoke to them and weave.  It gave me an opportunity to spend some time, while doing an activity.  It always helps to have an activity to focus on, so I could channel my emotions and not cry with every goodbye.  I will admit that I am a pretty emotional person 🙂

I will forever remember who wove this first piece!

I continued to visit special people and fill the loom.  

It was really moving to see my co-workers engage in the process with creativity and determination to fill the whole loom!  I choose a BIG frame and so I needed a lot of participation!  One lesson I learned for future weaving…. choose a smaller frame 😉  Everyone was excited to see the final project and I was thrilled to have this piece of art to remind me of all the people who have woven themselves into a special part of my life!

Now I have a wonderful conversation piece hanging in my new office, and a way to think fondly of this important time in my past.

 

This activity allows a lot for processing and giving a way to take something positive from a goodbye.  It could be used for transitioning from a program or home, moving or going away to school, or ending a session with a beloved therapist.  Weaving is therapeutic in itself because it gets your hands and mind working in sync.  It  can also become very rhythmic which lends to self-regulation.  To weave, you simply take a strand and go over, under, over, under and the imperfections only add to the beauty and memory.  Teaching and watching the weaving process certainly helped me to shift my mood and focus my feelings.

 

Not only did I wave goodbye on my last day, I also got to WEAVE goodbye!  And I am so grateful for that experience.  Thank you to all my participants!!

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.

Water Beads … Favorite Fidget #7

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Orbeez, water beads, sooper beads, call them what you like, these little expanding balls lead to endless fun!  They start as tiny seeds… and as soon as water is added, they immediately start to expand!  They will expand for up to 6 hours, looking something like this

Water beads have always been one of the most desired prizes in the OT prize box.  Just a small handful can overflow a cup!!  They are such a great sensory tool for touch, sight, and focus!  They give a cool sensation and if you fill a deep bucket or table, can offer some deep pressure input.  Hiding small items amongst the water beads can make for a fun searching game!  Good for visual distraction and tactile discrimination. (Click HERE for more details on specifics of sensory bins)

C had a bug-themed birthday party this year, so we filled our water table with green and yellow water beads and many plastic and rubbery bugs.  The kids had a blast digging up to their elbows for bugs.  (For a whole other sensory experience, we also had a mud table filled with real bugs!  But that is for another post…)

         

Something else we love to with our water beads is pour them into balloons!  These make really excellent stress balls.  Clearly, I could go on forever about all the wonderful things you can do with these little beads!   So, here’s the review:

C(4): breakable, bouncy, slimy, 16  (yes, out of 10!)

G(6): squishy, wet, colorful, 10

O: satisfying, boba-like, fun, 8.5

This is the pack that I always order!  Very inexpensive for A LOT of beads!  Click the image to buy your own!

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.

Wikki Stix … Favorite Fidget #5

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I love wikki stix!  They are very versatile and allow creativity!  They are simply thin pieces of yarn covered in wax, so they offer a somewhat tacky texture that is pliable.  They are sold in individual packets which are perfect for travel or adding to a coping kit.  They can also be purchased in bulk to offer in a classroom or a program.

One of my favorite activities that I have completed with wikki stix is a group challenge.  I provide the group with a pile of wikki stix and instruct them to build a road.  They usually start out simple, building a straight road from one end of a table to the other.  Next, I give them each a cotton ball and a straw and see if they can blow their cotton ball down the road.  As the activity goes on, I invite them to challenge themselves and see what kind of a road they can build, while still getting their cotton ball through the path.  I have a fond memory of doing this group with about 8 staff in a residential program.  I often teach activities to staff, so they could then bring it back and do the same with the youth in the program.  These staff got so into the activity, building their path over posters and stacks of books, weaving it back and forth across the table.  It was so fun to watch!  And I know that the more excited staff are about an activity, the more enthusiasm they will bring when doing it with youth.  Consulting and working with many programs for kids and adolescents, staff buy-in is one of the biggest indicators of moving the program culture to one that embraces sensory strategies as tools for self-regulation.

Completing this activity meets so many objectives, such as;

  1. team building
  2. breath control
  3. fine motor manipulation
  4. communication
  5. self-regulation

I have personally made wikki stix roads with pre-school children up to adolescents.  Adjusting the level of difficulty or challenge invites all participants to engage in the activity.

I often keep wikki stix in my purse for my kiddos to use while we are out.  Here are some of their (and my) creations:

Of course, they gave their review and rating:

C (4) sticky, colorful, shapey, 100

G (6) stringy, sticky, fun to play with, 8

The perfect tool for fidgeting, being creative, or focusing!  Click below to get your own set!

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.

Slime … Favorite Fidget #1

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As an OT, I have been making slime since the “olden days” before there was slime activator 😉  Recently G and C had a play date, with a little slime-making expert!  They had planned (without telling me) that they would make slime on the visit, luckily, we have our go-to slime making tools on hand.  When I carried the supplies to the table, the little slime expert said “where is the activator?”  I told her I had a magic activator called Sta-Flo liquid starch!

So we set to work…

First we added a 1/2 cup of Elmer’s School Glue

We added several drops of food coloring, stirred and added, several times until we had an approved color.

Next, and this is the important part that is often missed, we GRADUALLY added 1/4 cup of Sta-Flo

We added a little, stirred a little and continued until all of the liquid starch was incorporated.  At this point, it might look a little “brainy” or stringy.  Let it sit a few minutes and stir again.  Once it appears combined, its time to pick it up and knead!

After a bit of kneading, if its still too sticky, add liquid starch.  If its still stringy, add a bit of glue.  This is the part that kids love – experimenting!  It meets kids inner drive to mix and measure and learn.  This is why slime making is such a great STEM activity!

Now you can get creative!   On this day, their idea was to make a different slime for each season.  Our favorite was winter – where we added glitter, peppermint essential oil, and the small styrofoam balls that we had used earlier in the day to make snow globes.

I even learned a great tip from my little slime-guest!  and that is lotion!   Adding lotion, in small increments (C and G went a little lotion crazy when they learned the secret) can help cut down on the stickiness.  It can also add a nice scent!

In the end, slime making;

  1. meets that innate need to experiment and measure – STEM
  2. provides a sense of mastery and accomplishment upon completion of the slime
  3. offers a sensory tool that can be used for regulation

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.

Click on to Favorite Fidget #2

 

 

Tool of the Month: Fidgets

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Everybody loves fidget tools!  But why?

Our hands are home to a multitude of touch receptors, muscles, and joints.  Each time we touch, hold, or manipulate an object, signals are sent to our brain.  Some of these signals help us to discriminate what it is we are touching (help us to identify the object without looking) and others help us to use this input to alter our level of arousal.  In order to be successful in our daily tasks, we need to be able to alter our arousal level.  When falling asleep or watching television a low level of arousal is suffice, while attending to a task that requires focus and attention requires an arousal level that is a bit higher.   There are also times when a high arousal level is appropriate such as playing sports.  There are many ways to change arousal level, including using the sense of touch or the internal sense of proprioception received through muscle and joint contraction and relaxation.  All individuals use these senses throughout the day to alter their arousal level.   Strategies are individualized and are often done without thinking about them – such as bouncing legs, cracking knuckles, chewing a piece of gum, drinking through a straw, clicking a pen.  With the popularity of fidget toys, individuals are now able to find more tools that meet their preference.  Some tools may provide more light touch – which can be more alerting, while others may provide more deep touch – which can be more calming.  Any tool that exercises the muscle and joint of the hand can also help with bringing the body to the appropriate level of arousal.  Actually, tools that provide muscle and joint changes, can be great choices because this type of input can raise or lower arousal level depending upon what the body needs.  Touch can also strengthen the ability to learn and retain information, because more parts of the brain are activated when an object is being touched, helping build connections for later retrieval.  Fidget tools or other strategies such as tapping, clicking, cracking, bouncing, etc. are appropriate and can used as long as they are helping the individual to meet the appropriate arousal level for the given moment.  Fidget tools and strategies should be reconsidered when they become a distraction.

Throughout the month, I am going to share all of my favorite fidgets!!

Join me for my Top Ten Favorite Fidgets, starting with …

SLIME!

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.

Reindeer Tube Sock Neck Wrap

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I had a group of kids recently beg me to make tube sock neck wraps.  This is a project that we do ALL THE TIME, so I decided that I needed to add a spin.  And so, the Reindeer Tube Sock Neck Wrap was born!

Our local dollar tree had these perfect socks and I had a stash of felt, so we got to work.

                                    

We cut shapes from the felt to make eyes, nose, and antlers.  We then hand-sewed the shapes on.  Hand-sewing is such a great skill to learn so I often incorporate this into activities!  This sewing task was a little tricky because we had to be sure that we only sewed through the surface layer of the sock.

 

 

Next we made our filling – rice, cloves and cinnamon!  I found inexpensive cinnamon sticks and cloves along with the rice at the local Price Rite.  We cut the cinnamon sticks into small pieces using scissors, then mixed the cinnamon pieces and cloves in with 1 – 2 lbs or rice, depending on preference.

 

We poured our mixture into our sock and hand stitched them up.  My group were sewing pros by now and were quite proud of their work!

To finish it off, I added a mouth to mine.  I felt like he was missing a smile!  And now he is complete:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These little reindeer neck wraps can go into the microwave for up to two minutes.  With the smell and warmth, they certainly promote relaxation!  Neck wraps also add deep touch pressure for an added benefit.

In finishing this project, my group;

1. felt proud of their work leading to improved self-esteem and sense of mastery

2. worked on a fine motor skill and important life skill – sewing!

3. created a tool that they can use for coping and regulation

All while having fun, of course!  I hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to make your own reindeer pal. And feel free to get creative and cut your felt to make any character or design you like!

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.

 

Soft Simple Play Dough

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This play dough recipe will quickly become your favorite because it only requires two ingredients!  It is also the softest play dough you will ever feel and leaves your hands feeling super smooth after you play.  Even better, it smells wonderful!  Sold?  Head to your local dollar store or grocery store for corn starch and hair conditioner, and maybe a table cloth…  Corn starch can be messy!!!

Materials:

  • Cornstarch (2 parts)
  • Hair Conditioner (1 part)  I personally love the White Rain brand, for the smells (apple, rain, and coconut, and also for its consistency).  Every conditioner has a slightly different consistency, so you may have to adjust your measurements accordingly.
  • Measuring cups, such as 1 cup and 1/2 cup
  • Container for storage
  • Fork for stirring
  • Optional – food coloring

I often do this activity in a group setting, so I vary my “parts” accordingly.  Today I did it with C and G, so we had plenty to spare, and they even made two batches each.  We started with 1/2 cup of conditioner.  They measured it out and added it to their containers.

Then they measured out their cornstarch.  One big tip to this recipe is GRADUALLY adding the cornstarch to the conditioner.  The recipe will still work if you add it all at once, as many a kid I have made this with has done, but it comes together so much easier when added gradually.

  

Once all of the cornstarch is added and the dough begins to come together, take it out of the container and knead it.  If its still a bit sticky, tap it in some of the cornstarch that inevitably spilled 😉  If it is a little dry, add more conditioner.  Be sure to knead enough before you decide to add more cornstarch or conditioner.  And that is it!  You are now holding the softest, most wonderful smelling play dough.

We were having so much fun, that we decided to switch it up and add some color.  To do this, we added 5 – 10 drops of food coloring to the conditioner and stirred before adding the cornstarch.  Then we completed the recipe in the same way and we got these results:

 

Play dough is such a great tool because it just makes you feel so playful!  As soon as we finished, C said “can we take out our play dough tools?”  So not only did we have a blast making it, but it kept us busy for a while after we made it!  Play dough offers an invitation for people of all ages to playful and get messy.  I made this same play dough last week with a group of adolescent girls and others could hear their laughter from down the hall.  Many of them asked to make more than one type, and that classroom was COVERED in cornstarch, which they willingly cleaned because they had so much fun making the mess.  They also were excited to show it off, and show off how soft their hands were.

Having something in our hands, somehow, just makes us feel more at ease.  So what exactly is that somehow?  We all do certain things when we are nervous, bored, upset, to make us feel better.  Some of us chew gum, some of us bounce our leg, and some click their pen.  And some do all three 🙂 By accessing our senses, we can change our level of arousal – to help us wake up, calm down, or stay exactly where we need to be.  Using play dough, fidgets, or any FOCUS tool can help us to feel regulated.  So, might this be your tool?  Give it a try!!!

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.

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.