I want to start off my saying that I have added a new tab to my navigation bar, Sensory Basics. I wanted to have a stand alone resource that explains the basics of exactly what sensory play means, as well as some other terms that we frequently use in the business of occupational therapy. Check it out by clicking here or under Sensory Basics in the nav bar.
Since, I was putting energy into adding a new permanent page, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get into a lengthy post. Nonetheless, I wanted to share a quick sensory play idea in honor of the new page debut.
Sensory play is so much more than a bin of rice or sand. Movement and exploration are also key components to many more sensory play ideas, as I shared in DIY Sensory Tunnel. So, my suggested sensory idea (drum-roll, please!)is taking all of the cushions and pillows off your couch and letting your crawling baby, toddler, or big kid climb and jump until his/her heart’s content. Okay, I know what your thinking, this isn’t very novel, which is true. But sometimes the simplest or messiest things to do with our kids get overlooked. I love this idea because everyone can do it, it requires no prep work before hand (except cleaning up enough floor space to put the pillows down!), and it is free. If you haven’t done this with your kids before, you have been missing out, they love it! As you can see in the picture, we leaned the largest cushions on the edge of the couch. This way they couldn’t hit their head on the edge, and it gave them a ramp to climb up and roll back down (their favorite part). Get creative, arrange and re-arrange the pillows in different ways. Here are some more specific ways to play with the cushions:
- Arrange pillows and cushions in an obstacle course fashion and have your child navigate through as different animals (i.e.: snake, bear, penguin, etc.)
- Pretend there is a tunnel underneath the pillows and hide a treasure (whatever random toy is laying around). Have your kid climb under the pillows to find it! They will get tons of deep pressure input while doing this, which often has a calming effect. Also, if your kid likes, the tunnel could have a rock slide (you push up/down slightly on the pillows while they are climbing underneath). This will increase all of the sensory input they get.
- Older kids can try crawling across on just their knees while they carry a stuffed animal to safety. This will really help to increase their core muscles and balance, which is great for any kid but particularly helpful for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Downs Syndrome, and fine-motor difficulties, to name a few.
Whatever way you play with the pillows it is bound to work on your kid’s strength, coordination, and ability to motor plan new actions! Wow, all of this from your couch cushions! Most importantly, it will likely be a lot of fun for your kid and therefore motivating (another key component to sensory play).
- If your kiddo is particularly rambunctious you may want to lay out some ground rules. Simple rules like, “No jumping off the the back of the couch to launch yourself onto the pillows!”
- Try adding blankets, especially ones with different textures, and soft stuffed animals into the climbing/jumping pile.