Update: I now have an entire page dedicated to Sensory Processing/Play. If you are looking for more information about sensory play, click here.
The term “sensory” is becoming more mainstream, but I know it is still a foreign concept to many people. So, before I dive into what the sensory tunnel is, let me explain a little about “sensory” play, and I do mean a little, this is a very broad topic that I could devote an entire blog to. Sensory play/integration/processing (a variety of terms are used depending on who you are talking to) refers to our ability to take in sensations throughout our environment. I am talking about the five senses (get it sensory) we all learned about in school: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. In addition, we also receive input about where we are in space (i.e.: my hand is holding up the phone), which is called proprioception. The receptors for proprioception are located within the joints throughout our body, as our receptor for sight is our eyes. Vestibular input provides our brain with information about our body’s movement, such as when we are driving on a car or riding a swing. The receptors for vestibular input are located in our inner ear. Our brains are constantly taking information or input in from these various senses and processing it. Providing kids with sensory-rich activities helps to organize their systems and may improve their motor planning and attention to tasks.
The sensory tunnel is a “sensory-rich” play idea that is great for kids 3 and up, although a 2 year old can do it with encouragement and help. I have done this with kids as old as 14 and they really enjoy it. There really is no limit on age. Basically, a sensory tunnel is a large, stretchy, tube shaped piece of fabric that you can crawl through.