Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to have Trevor to play in his sensory bins. The experience really does help calm and regulate him. With Paige’s birth I definitely was slacking with his sensory diet and it showed. With organizing the playroom, getting his sensory materials in order was the first order of business. His sensory bins are more accessible now and he’s really taken a new interest in them. And the results of this increase in sensory play are wonderful 🙂
He’s been having a lot of fun playing Hide & Seek with his bean bin. We use a bunch of little character toys (Toy Story, Mickey and Friends, etc.) that I picked up at the Dollar Tree. We bury them under the beans and then he finds them. He thinks it’s hilarious if I sing about his toys to the tune of “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” (Oh Where, oh where has Mickey gone, oh where, oh where could he be?) when he digs for them.
What are your kids’ favorite sensory bin activities?
Yesterday we went on a “Heart Hunt”. This is a great activity to work on gross motor skills, as well as spatial awareness.
Excited to look for some hearts:
Climbing (this is a brand new inchstone for him!):
Stepping over an obstacle (I have to help him with this, as he can’t to it independently yet):
Trevor loved doing this! He wanted to do it again and again. In fact we did 5 Heart Hunts in a row! This really wore him out, but it was great to see him willing to engage in a motor activity. Since motor tasks are hard for him he usually avoids them.
I used salt dough hearts that we made together for this heart hunt, but you could use hearts cut out of paper, felt, or any other medium. Since he’s only 2 years old the hearts weren’t really “hidden”, but you can easily tailor this activity to your child’s skill level. I hid them in obvious places that he would have to work a little to get to.
This is another fun fine motor activity using a recycled container. All you need is a cleaned out milk jug and some colorful gems (or other small items). We used the colored gems that we purchased at the Dollar Tree to use on our light table. Trevor enjoyed doing this activity and the gems work great for this because they make a loud and satisfying “plunk” when you drop them in. Another bonus to using the gems is working on labeling colors and counting.
Dropping them in:
This is fun!
Shaking it up once all the gems were in:
A great, less messy way, to practice pouring:
Scooter boards are a great therapy tool. They help develop gross motor skills as well as give vestibular and proprioceptive input. Plus they’re fun! To get Trevor excited about using the scooter board I like to do scooter board races. I use painter’s tape to make a track on our floor, and then he gets on the scooter board and I push one of his toy cars and we race.
There are three general ways Trevor uses his scooter board in these races:
- He will lay on the scooter board and pull himself forward with his arms (I do have to help him with this one).
- He sits on the scooter board and propels himself forward with his feet.
- He kneels on the ground, places his hands on the scooter board, and pushes the scooter board.
Checking out the racetrack:
Laying on the scooterboard:
Sitting on the scooterboard:
Kneeling and pushing the scooterboard:
Pulling the tape off the floor is fun too 🙂
I love finding ways to re-purpose what I’d normally throw out. Therapy products can be very expensive, so it’s great when trash gets a new life as a therapy tool. I cleaned out an empty Parmesan Cheese Shaker and turned it into a fine motor activity for Trevor.
What You Need:
- Parmesan Cheese Shaker
How To Make It:
- Wash your used Parmesan Cheese Shaker and remove the label.
- Cut up colored straws into pieces (I cut them into fourths).
- Have child insert colored straws into holes in the lid of the container.
This is an awesome fine motor activity, as well as a way to work on colors and counting. I’ve seen this activity done with toothpicks as well, but I definitely don’t trust my 2-year-old with sharp objects. However, if you trust your child with toothpicks they can be substituted for the straws.
Trevor has a lot of fun with this. He also enjoys dumping the straws out of the container or shaking it like a musical instrument.
As I’ve said before, one of Trevor’s biggest obstacles in gaining new gross motor skills is his lack of core strength. His poor trunk control even affects gaining new fine motor skills, because when he’s sitting his body is working so hard just to sit that he has a hard time being precise with his hands. One of the exercises we are doing to help strengthen his trunk is the Wheelbarrow Walk. The Wheelbarrow Walk is also helpful for kids with sensory issues, as it helps stimulate the vestibular and proprioceptive senses. I hold Trevor at his hips to do this, as his trunk control is so poor. But as he gets stronger (or if your child has better core strength than mine), you can support him further down the legs – at the thighs, knees, shins, ankles, and eventually feet, as control improves.
With Christmas less than 2 weeks away I was looking for a yummy recipe to make holiday gifts for all of Trevor’s teachers and therapists. They work hard and are so helpful that I wanted to show my appreciation. I found this recipe for peppermint bark and decided it would make a great gift.
What You Need:
- 1 bag chocolate chips (I used a bag each of dark and white chocolate)
- 5 candy canes, crushed
- 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
How to Make It:
- Melt the chocolate chips according to package directions.
- Stir in the peppermint extract.
- Spread the melted chocolate onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
- Crush the candy canes (I put them in 2 Ziploc baggies and pounded them with an ice cream scoop. Great therapy, BTW!)
- Sprinkle the crushed candy on top.
- Place in freezer for 5 minutes, or until hardened.
- Break into pieces.
Chocolate spread, candy canes sprinkled, and ready to go in the freezer:
The chocolate has hardened and it’s ready to be broken into bark:
All broken up and ready to be devoured, I mean boxed up and given away 🙂
Don’t forget about the white chocolate peppermint bark too:
I also made peanut butter bark by melting Reese’s peanut butter chips and sprinkling crushed Reese’s on top:
I boxed the bark up into those reusable plastic containers that lunch meat comes in. I separated the layers of bark with more waxed paper.
And remember those Cinnamon Dough Ornaments we made? Well I painted the backs of some of them with red acrylic paint and wrote thank you messages on them with silver pen for all 6 of the people on Trevor’s team that I wanted to thank (those are his PT, OT, SLP, teacher, swim teacher, and FRC).
Then I wrapped the boxed bark in plastic tissue paper (that Trevor picked out) and attached the cinnamon dough ornaments with ribbon.
Everyone loved their gifts and they were fairly simple to make. The peppermint bark was so delicious. I’m definitely going to make more so that we can enjoy some before the holidays are over!
One of Trevor’s biggest barriers in gaining new gross motor skills are his weak core muscles. You don’t realize how much your core muscles contribute to balance and physical ability until you see someone with low tone in their trunk. I would love to get Trevor involved in hippotherapy, as I’ve heard that is one of the best ways to develop core strength. Unfortunately there aren’t any stables involved in hippotherapy in our area 😦 So for now we do other exercises to strengthen his core. One way we do that is by using an exercise ball. Trevor sits on top of the ball and I hold his hips, moving him side to side and front to back on the ball, as well as bouncing him up and down. To make Trevor more comfortable on the ball we often look at books (his favorite thing in the world), or sing songs (his second favorite thing in the world). Sometimes I make up songs about the characters in his books, and that makes him really happy!