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Use the information provided on this site as an educational resource for determining your options and making your
own informed choices. It is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any specific illness.
Toys, Products, and Ideas
for Sensory Education
|Incorporating Sensory Input into Daily Activities
Bath time: Scrub with washcloth or bath brush, try a variety of soaps and lotions for bathing, play on the
wall with shaving cream or bathing foam, rub body with lotion after bath time (deep massage), sprinkle
powder onto body and brush or rub into skin.
Meal preparation or baking: Let your child mix ingredients, especially the thick ones that will really work
those muscles. Let child mix and roll dough and push flat. Allow child to help you carry pots and pans,
bowls of water or ingredients (with supervision, of course). Let your child tenderize meat with the meat
Grocery shopping: Have your child push the heavy cart (as long as the weight is within their capability). Let
your child help carry heavy groceries and help put them away.
Mealtime: Encourage eating of chewy foods and drinking out of a straw. Try having your child sit on an air
cushion to allow some movement. A weighted lap blanket may be helpful as well.
Household chores: Allow the child to help with the vacuuming or moving the furniture. Let the child help
carry the laundry basket or the detergent. Let the child help with digging for gardening or landscaping.
Play time: Reading books in a rocking chair or bean-bag chair may be beneficial. You can help your child
make up obstacle courses in the house or yard using crawling, jumping, hopping, skipping, rolling, etc.
Listen to soft music. Play the sandwich game (child lies in between two pillows and pretends to be the
sandwich, while you provide pressure to the top pillow to the child’s desired amount). Ask them "harder or
softer?" as you push on the pillow. Some children will like much more pressure than you would expect.
You can also go for a neighborhood walk with a wagon and have your child pull it (make it semi-heavy by
loading it with something the child would like to pull around). You can do the same with a baby-doll
carriage. Swimming in a pool is a wonderful activity if you have that available, as are horseback riding and
bowling. Mini or full-size trampolines are excellent for providing sensory input as well. Make sure the
child is using them safely. Sandboxes, or big containers of beans or popcorn kernels can be fun play-boxes
too, if you add small cars, shovels, cups, etc. Read about the importance of Play!
Errands and appointments: Bring your Quiet Kit! Before visiting the dentist or hairdresser try deep
massage to the head or scalp (if tolerated), or try having your child wear a weighted hat. Try chewy foods or
vibration to the mouth with an electric toothbrush. Let your child wear a heavy backpack (weighted to their
liking with books and with the straps padded as needed). Be sure to give the child ample warning before
any changes in routine or any unscheduled trips or errands. Many children with SPD need predictability.
Other General Guidelines for the Home
Keep routines and possessions organized. See our Play Therapy page for storage and organization ideas.
Be consistent with rules and consequences.
Keep an activity schedule or calendar posted.
Create specific routines for troublesome times of day (bedtime or getting ready for school).
Discuss upcoming anticipated changes in routine at a point in time that is beneficial for your child. You
will have to experiment with how early the child "needs to know."
Try to indirectly use your child’s sensory preferences for fun rewards to help you handle behavior. For
example, having your child work towards an extra trip to go bowling or horseback riding may be helpful.
However, try not to restrict movement activities when your child is being disciplined. For example, taking
away recess time or playground time for not sitting at the table appropriately during dinner may not be the
most effective way to deal with these issues. Your child may need that movement time, and by removing it,
his or her behavior may actually become more difficult later.
Strategies for SPD and autism in the classroom.
The Importance of One-on-One Time and Floor Time
Fidgets and sensory toys for older kids and adults at
Supporting Sensory Preferences in Young Children (pdf)
SOME S.A.F.E. TACTILE EXPERIENCES FOR PRESCHOOLERS
(sensory, appropriate, fun, and easy)
• Finger-painting on a tray with chocolate pudding. This open-ended, hands-on activity feels as good as it
tastes. Next time, offer shaving cream and enjoy the smell and easy clean-up.
• Digging for worms. Handling worms is about as tactile as you can get.
• Going barefoot, lakeside. The differences between firm and squishy, warm and cold, dry and wet are worth
• Forming rice balls or meatballs.
• Kneading play-doh or real dough. Make shapes, people, pretzels, or blobs.
• Ripping paper. Strips of newspaper are useful to line the hamster cage. Strips of construction paper or
tissue paper make beautiful collages. Remember that the process, not the product, is the goal.
• Discovering treasures in a Feely Box. (Cut a hand-sized hole in a shoebox lid. Fill the box with lentils,
cotton balls, packing peanuts, or sand. Add buttons, shells, uncooked macaroni, or small toys.) The idea is
to thrust a hand through the hole and let the fingers do the seeing. No peeking!
• Collecting seeds, pebbles, or shells in an egg carton. Loading up the receptacles and dumping them out is
great fun for a very young child. The ability to sort and classify the items comes later.
• Petting the pet. Drying a wet dog, stroking a kitten, providing a finger perch for a parakeet, or hugging a
baby are tactile experiences that make a child feel good, inside and out.
Touch and Feel Box
Cut a hole in a shoe box with a lid on it. Put various types of textures on the floor of the box like carpet,
sand paper, tile, wax paper and have the child feel the textures. Put various objects in the box and have the
child try to guess what the object is.
Use the scooter boards to have the child spin. Spin the child on a swing. Spin the child on a sheet on a slick
Wrap the child up real tight in a sheet, blanket, or beach towel and then hold tight like a caterpillar in a
Have child pull a wagon, push wheelbarrow, carry large shopping bag or cardboard box (pretend truck
which must be pushed or carried along path) filled with heavy objects of different colors and have child
place each matching color object into matching color delivery stations.
Body Wheelbarrow Walk
Hold child’s feet and have child crawl on floor and play the wheelbarrow walk. Hold hands and have child
walk leaning on your body for a reverse wheelbarrow walk.
Walls Moving In Game
Have child pretend the room’s walls are moving in and have child push against the walls to stop the
See the What is Sensory Integration? page for ideas on Sensory Diets, Self-Regulating, and Discipline.
More Than 100 Ideas Here to keep you and your child busy. Sensory ideas and lesson plans here!
See Our Links page for local places to take your Sensory Kids!
Also see our Developmental Toys page for ideas for babies & toddlers.
Buy a premade, sensory Quiet Kit from Sensorize.
This idea is from "Understanding Sensory Dysfunction"
Create a "sensory bag" or "sensory basket" that can go with the child. The idea is that if the child starts to
lose composure due to sensory input or overload, the bag can be accessed to use a sensory approach to help
manage the arousal state or behaviors. While each child's bag should be based on his or her individual
sensory needs, here are some suggestions that may help you get started:
• 20 Questions
• I Spy
• Taking a walk
• Getting a drink from a water fountain
• Looking out window
• Saying something silly
• Blowing a raspberry on his or her arm
• Clapping games
• Pushing hard against each other's hands
• Whispering secrets
• Asking questions
• Word games where each person adds an item, alphabetically,
and the next person must remember the whole string of words
• What color am I looking at?
• Tell me three things you did today
• Let child choose what to do next
• Math facts
• A is for ..., B is for ...
• Hide something in fist -- guess which hand?
• Play with child's hair
|• Deck of cards
• Flash cards
• Little notepad and pen
• Finger puppets
• Hard candy
• Small storybook
• Puzzle book
• Animal crackers
• Magnetic travel game