DIY Sensory Tools

We often see pretty cool looking sensory tools and activities but then we head toward purchasing them the sticker shock knocks us back into flight or freeze!

I am not a particularly crafty person (although toddlers and preschoolers think I’m pretty nifty.)  I can barely sew (never a straight line!)  So when I seek out to save money with a DIY project it rarely comes out well.  But, when it does I am over the moon proud of myself!

I have had some pretty heavy posts of late so this one is meant to be encouraging and uplifting.  I am going to share some of my DIY/money saving successes!


Balance Board:

** Once children have mastered the balance, add another level by playing catch or tug of war while they are on the board.  Have them stand on the board while coloring a picture taped to the wall.

Water Beads:

** My girls LOVE these things.  I would see them on Pinterest and other places but at craft stores and even the Dollar Store they were beyond my budget.  One tablespoon of these tiny little beads added to a gallon of water for 12-24 hours creates hours of play.  They enjoy checking on their growth every few hours (in reality they are ready for play in about 3 hours, just not at full size.)  Add some tools like these: Fine Motor Tools for even more play.  When the children are ready, start smooshing and popping them.  When they’re feeling really brave, let them step into a pan of them!  Listen for the squeals and laugh together.  They are fun to sort by color, size, make different patterns and designs.

Hop Balls: Hop Balls for Children and Adults 

I kid you not, this was probably the best purchase we made for our girls in the last three years.  They love them!  The activities are endless, they’re great for regulating, and a great way for exercise during cold, winter months.

Swing/Plasma CarSwing Car

These do not work on carpet!  They’re okay on a paved surface but work best on bare floors.  I actually picked mine up as an impulse buy at Aldi’s.  Again, the girls LOVE it!  This and the hop balls are the sure-fire activities that will bring them together to play.

Squish Box:  You can purchase a squeezee canoe or large bean bag for $100 OR, buy the biggest rubbermaid tub you can find.  They get pretty big!  Then, fill it with blankets, pillows, and other soft objects (also a great way to store these things 😉) Voila! A relaxing, enclosed space with some compression!  Great for reading, iPad, watching TV, whatever.

Weighted Lap Pad or Animal: Weighted Stuffed Animal.  If you can sew, at all, a popular item right now is sequin fabric.  Pick some up at Joann Fabric and use on one side of a simple pillow with a preferred texture on the other side (fleece, satin, cotton…) My oldest likes to “draw” pictures in the sequins.  She likes to hold it during TV time or in the car.


Scented Play Dough! Homemade Play Doh  I have one daughter who will entertain herself with playdough for three hours.  The other, with encouragement, will use it for three minutes.  I like to add an essential oil that correlates to the color… (the green is peppermint, the white is vanilla, the purple lavendar, etc)  To encourage my tactile resistant little one I wrap the dough around a toy or put a small treat in an easter egg and wrap it in dough.  The excitement of the surprise is usually enough to entice her.  It’s also a sneaky way to work in finger strengthening exercises!  


Puffy Paint: DIY Puffy Paint 

Olfactory Memory: Use small storage containers (empty Rx bottles work great) and place pantry spices in them (2 of each spice!)  Place them on the table and try to find the matches!  You can also use an egg carton and put a dab of essential oil on cotton balls.  Try to find the matches.  (Parent tip: use a marker to label the bottom of the bottle or the carton.)

***     Family activities that create something or science experiments are excellent means for connecting while incorporating sensory sensations!  Encourage your child to listen, look, smell, feel all the time!  When was the last time you paid attention to the way your produce feels in your hand?  ***


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