This week I will focus on tactile sensory equipment.
All of my kids LOVE theraputty. It is great for a tactile sensory break but it also works well for working on fine motor skills (each color of Theraputty is a different resistance). Additionally, we have used it during academic activities such as hiding coins to find and ID or hiding counters to find and count.
Calming or Cooling Bags
Last year I learned that students who have sensory processing issues also often have a higher core body temperature. When I learned this it totally made sense because I noticed that after bouncing on a therapy ball or spending time in a body sock the kids would be beat red and sometimes sweaty even in just a short amount of time. This is when I started trying to incorporate some cooling activities at the end of a sensory break. I made cooling gel bags which the kids loved because they were squishy and I could add beads or small objects to also provide sensory input. I put the bags in the fridge to cool them down. However, several of my students squeeze too hard so I made goo gloves for them which can also be put into the fridge to cool down.
For those students who need oral/tactile input (you know the kids who always have their hands in their mouths) I use "chewys". They can be attached to a string or lanyard and worn as a necklace or attached to a stretchy spiral keychain and hooked to a belt loop.
Sensory tubs are another great sensory tool for kids who need tactile input. Rice and beans are calming because they can be heavy and therefore provide deep pressure while pasta is alerting because it is "pokey". The sensory tubs pictured here are in my sensory table. The table acts as a catch-all for messes and decreased the amount of rice on the carpet each night. I would recommend getting tubs with lids and not putting more than one in the table at a time because no matter how many times you ask them not to the kids will mix them! Sensory tubs are also great to incorporate into academics by burying manipulatives (shape blocks, foam numbers, etc) and having kids dig them out and identify them.
Fidgets are a good way to occupy a student during a short break (when waiting their turn) or help with transitioning (fidget signals moving from place to place). They are also good for those kids who have difficulty keeping their hands off of materials or out of their desks. Many students focus better if they have a small fidget to squeeze or roll in their hand while you are talking.
Sensory bottles can be used like fidgets and are great for those kids who like visual input. Additionally, they can be calming for some students who like watching the oil and/or items settle. However, I do not recommend them for something to use during small group time because they can be very distracting. Click here for how to make sensory bottles for your classroom.