Friday, October 11, 2013

Our Home School has gone SENSORY

 So I have had a lot of people ask me about how do I include sensory activities into my school day at home- or for some of you after school for our children? 
 If you have children who seem to have too much energy, who always are bumping into things, chews incessantly, can't sit still, is a child from a hard place, ........
 There is a strong chance that adding in sensory activities to your daily routine - can have a huge effect on you and on them.  As in you will get to keep our mind, and they will too! 
 It's a win-win!!!
 The above pictures are all from our garage- so you don't have to be fancy!  We have incorporated doing rotations daily.  These rotations don't have to take forever- sometimes we do a 30 seconds on each activity and sometimes it is 10 minutes depending, but they help in lots of ways!  This rotation included, bouncing a ball, mini trampoline, 2 step climbing up and down, jumping jacks, box of beans, hula hooping, tapping your right hand to your left knee and your left hand to your right knee alternatively while "marching in place". 

Sounds strange you say?  Yes, a little, but let's look at the whole picture. 

The whole picture is that our children NEED to move, and the more we help them connect the left and right sides of their brain the better!  Let's look at more activities......
 Joanna is modeling our "wiggle seat".  We have 4 of these.  Sometimes we use them to "step on" to create an input on the feet.  They are smooth on one side and rubber "prickly" on the other side.  For those who have issues sitting- they give a constant input and ability to wiggle while sitting!  Genius!  Also you can use a big exercise ball as well - those can be used for lots of great sensory activities!!! 
 Here is another crazy activity.  One of the main points of sensory activities is to help give input.  So different textures, feels, cold, warm, soft, hard, prickly, smooth, bumpy, and everything in between! 
 I threw down a couple of blankets and put down a bunch of pillows as well as towels.  We had the kids roll over the "obstacles" several times each. 

**Beware some children have a hard time with vestibular input which is round and round or in this case rolling.  If you do the Hokey Pokey and you turn around....and your child melts down there may be vestibular issues.  Our children all are great with craving and enjoying it!  Whew- so this works awesome for us! 
 Back to the sensory activities!  You can have Velcro pieces under the table while your kids do homework.  Have a squishy ball or a ball with "bumps" on it under the desk your child works at.  Chewlery (sold on Amazon) works GREAT for those with children that love to chew- pencils, fingers, clothes!!!  They have bracelets that look like coils, but are safe to chew as well as necklaces with "charms" on them made for chewing as well. 
 Some children need weighted blankets, vests, or lap blankets.  This gives constant heavier input to children who try to sit still, but can't.  Or try to sleep, but can't.  For those constantly on the go- these items can help tremendously!  Or if you have a cat that likes to cuddle up and sit or a dog- they work great for a lap companion while your child is working at the table! 

You can buy these blankets, but they are pretty expensive (due to weight) or you can go on You Tube and get step by step instructions.  The materials are at a local crafts store!
 Also, just allowing your child to stand while doing desk work can be awesome!  :) 

*Yes, this is me.....rolling on the floor and the kids took a pic :).  Yes we love homeschooling in our pj's and if you come to visit- I may be in my pj's :)  just sayin'.
 So the next several pictures are of another rotation we did.  We had the cheap 99 cent tongs and small blocks we use for Math.  I put the blocks in bowls- one set on the stairs and one set on chairs.  The kids had to get the blocks with the tongs from one bowl to the next.  Without dropping ;) them and they had a little race. 

**Note to self.  Some of our children have competition sometimes you have to take a break and remind them this is supposed to be fun!  ;)  I am sure none of you know what I am talking about right? 
 I go all out for sensory so these were $1 items from Target!  ;)   the gloves and bracelets with spikes.  I also have on the table in the picture- a chew tube that I got online. 
 Oh and the squishy dinosaurs also a buck.  The kids love the textures.  Things like clips are great for pressing, and playing with as fiddle toys too.  You can get a pack of them for a few dollars. 
 We did chalkboard- standing, writing, gives input in a different way than a pencil. 
 This giant crayon I got from Target (if you Pinterest you can also make one to) was fun to play with - place cardboard under the paper for better "input" or feeling while coloring. 
 Sensory has a lot to do with pressure.  Did you know our brains respond differently to different kinds of pressure.  Our brains can also "reorganize" just by getting that input? 

I am here to tell  you that this has rocked our world!  When our  children get upset to the point of flipping a lid- or sometimes before we hit that point- we can do a sensory activity and our world is back and we can regain our control! 
 There are also many studies done on the effects of left to right side of the body and right to left side of the body exercises, stretches, and movements in general that help with dyslexia.  These same movements help with getting our bodies back under control. 
 Silly putty- oh fun!  I know again- I spared no expense on this cheap and wonderful toy that bounces, stretches, snaps, and works with newspaper writing. 
 If you have questions about sensory issues and what it all means do some research.  The best book is Out of Sync Child!   It has loads of information about the different kinds of out of sync children.  Some children are adverse to textures- either on their body such as hating tags in shirts, not wanting to wear shoes, etc. Or in their mouth like our Michael who doesn't like anything in his mouth and never put toys in his mouth.  Some children crave input and will walk into things on purpose to get that input.  They may constantly rub their hands on the objects as you walk along in the store, or rub things, chew constantly on anything and everything. 

There are other follow up books too, and one of them is Out of Sync Child Has Fun.  This book has many many many ideas for sensory input.  The other number one and free place to get sensory ideas- PINTEREST!!!  If you go to our board you can go to the sensory board there- tons of ideas for every age!!!!! 
 Well hello- sometimes random pictures show up on my camera.  Hmmmmm.......I wonder why?  ;)
 Good ol fashion play dough, moon dough, shaving cream, ice cubes, stones, beans, rice, small toys, plastic  tubs, water, $1 items from the store, squishy balls, Velcro, these are all things that have helped us improve our homeschool day! 
 Yes and sometimes we get a little crazy around here! 
 But I mean who wouldn't enjoy these crazy squishy gloves with plastic hair? 
 I have a saying.....if it helps us learn let's do it! 
 If it helps us calm down when we are having a problem calming down- give it a try. 
 All of these activities have helped! 
 Did you know just blowing up balloons- or in this case a punch ball can help. 
 How often should you do sensory activities? 
 Ideally every 2 hours! 
 Some children need it more often.  Some children don't need it at all.
 Some of our children aren't in real need, but hey it is fun to do.  So why not go crazy as a family - right? 
 The other part about sensory/emotional needs is helping our children cope with situations by role playing ahead of time.  So we got a set of puppets.  Have you ever thought of role playing discipline issues?  Try it- it works! 

Do something like........the giraffe and zebra get in a fight over a toy.  Practice the wrong way and then without your intervention have them practice a right way to handle it.  Surprising what they come up with.  Then when you are connecting and correcting you can use a reference from those role plays.

Remember- what is taught is sometimes learned, what is done is engrained in our brain! 
Also, we created a feelings ball.  For children from hard places or any child for that matter sometimes talking about feelings is hard.  So make it a game.  I wrote in permanent marker on a beach ball several different feelings-positive and negative.  Examples:  Angry, stressed, joyful, excited, shy, happy, sad, etc.  (Again I go all out and spend $1!)

We threw the ball to each other.  When you catch the ball you pick one of the few words staring at you (giving choices) and let them share something general (as in in general when I get to go swimming it makes me happy) or a specific memory or activity (as in yesterday when we went to the pool it made me happy). 

Sometimes it is general feelings our children share, and it also has brought out amazing insight into how my kids are really feeling.  In a society that sometimes masks everything over this does us all good!  Don't forget that you as a parent need to participate and let your children hear you talk about your feelings too!  :)


  1. I left a message on this a few days ago but it looks like it didn't post. One thing we did with the older two when they were little is play hide the timer. Everyone has to be very quiet and concentrate. Just get an old fashioned timer that ticks. Set it for three minutes and hide it (where it can be heard). They have until it goes off to find it. Whoever finds it, hides it next. I haven't done this with the younger ones because I forgot about it and because our ticking timer died and the new one doesn't tick.

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