Toys + Tools
(At School + At Play)
Promote CALM & FOCUS for children who are sensory sensitive or avoidant by providing just enough sensory input without overwhelming them. These same tools also help highly active children to self-regulate their energy level.
FIDGET PENCILS ($8 for 4). Keep fidgeting fingers busy with a set of reusable (and washable) pencil toppers.
Sensory System: Tactile
WIGGLE SEAT ($35). For a child who needs to move around while staying seated, an inflatable seat cushion can provide just enough bounce. The angle of the wedge promotes good seated posture. This round wiggle seat ($15) challenges sitting balance and is easy to inflate and deflate. Both seats allow the child to choose to sit on the bumpy side or the smooth side for more or less tactile input.
Sensory System: Vestibular (Movement), Tactile
SAND TIMERS ($9 for 6). Focusing visual attention on the falling sand can promote self-regulation while reinforcing time management.
Sensory System: Visual
BUG-OUT-BOB SQUEEZE TOY ($8). Squeezing strengthens hands while satisfying sensory seekers by working those small muscles in the hands.
Sensory System: Proprioception (Muscles & Joints)
LAVENDER LOTION ($10). Rubbing lotion into our hands provides proprioceptive input, which is calming. For many people, the scent of lavender is calming as well. (Of course, some sensory-sensitive kids may be averse to this or all scents, so unscented lotion is another good option for a relaxing hand rub.)
Sensory System: Olfactory (Smell), Proprioception
NOISE-REDUCING HEADPHONES ($15). Classrooms are busy places, and all that noise can make focusing difficult for some students.
Sensory System: Auditory
While many children benefit from calming sensations, other children are sensory seekers that benefit from sensations that are AROUSING & ALERTING. This chart offers a concise list of both calming activities and alerting activities organized by sensory system.
SCENTED MARKERS ($5). Strong scents - especially citrus and mint - are alerting. Replacing a regular highlighter with a lemon- or orange-scented marker is a great way to encourage attention to the task at hand.
Sensory System: Olfactory
CHEWY, CRUNCHY, SALTY, COLD FOODS. The right snack can really give our bodies a wake-up call. Chewy foods such as gum or dried fruit or beef jerky, tend to be alerting, especially when coupled with a super-strong scent (such as a stick of citrus-flavored Juicy Fruit Gum). Mint-flavored gum is another option to try, although I find some sensory-sensitive children have a strong aversion to mint. Sunflower seeds are my go-to salty and crunchy snack, especially because the oral-motor manipulation required to bite off and spit out the shell presents a fun challenge. While ice cream is every child's favorite cold snack, I prefer frozen lemonade cups or popsicles for a harder-frozen and (slightly) healthier option.
Sensory Systems: Taste, Olfactory, Proprioception/Oral-Motor