This could have been a rhyming mantra for many when Sandy hit recently. Schedules askew, hunkered down inside for much of the day, folks with sensory needs who were lucky enough to be in areas where the storm did not hit full force may have needed extra attention to avoid disregulation and anxiety during the windy conditions. I know that was the case in our home.
Thus, this month’s Sensory Savvy Lenses challenge is wind. What sensory-smart activities might the next big wind storm inspire in your home?
This Month’s Challenge: Wind!
Original Purpose: blowing air around
- auditory input
- fine motor skills
- oral motor skills
- tactile input
1. Blow and Count
For proprioceptive input and oral sensory calming in one, be the wind blowing a tissue ball down a hallway or across a room. To add some math practice to the activity, estimate how many blows it will take to get from one end of the space to the other. Then, count the number of blows it actually takes. Make greater than, less than and equal to equations to compare the two amounts. If playing with more than one person, determine who can make the strongest wind by comparing how many blows it takes each person to get the tissue ball from one end of the space to the other.
2. Can Wind Move It?
For further proprioceptive, oral sensory and tactile input, using a basket or bag, collect a number of relatively small items from around the space. Look for objects of different sizes, shapes an textures. Then, classify the objects into those which you think wind can move and those you think wind cannot. Test your predictions by trying to blow the objects across a space. Then, if it’s a windy day, take the objects outside to see if the real wind can blow them.
3. Wind Instruments
Explore different ways that wind can create music for some auditory, tactile and oral motor input. To encourage fine motor work, attach a variety of objects to an old hanger or stick using yarn or string. Place these out in the wind (or in front a fan or blowing mouth) and listen for the music that might be made by the objects being blown together. For oral sensory and auditory input, blow into an through a variety of found objects to make your own wind instruments.
4. Move It!
Like a challenge and need a calming activity? Try to figure out how to move a book or other object using just a straw and a sandwich bag. The way to do it is to slip a short straw into an open corner of the sandwich bag, zip or tape the rest of the opening shut, slide the bag under the object to be moved and, then, blow away. The blowing and concentration required to move the object this way can be quite calming. (Of course, it can also be exciting. Who knew you could move something with a bag and a straw?!)
5. Blow Me Away
If it is safe outside, enjoy the exhilarating tactile input of simply blowing in the wind. However, remember to take precautions for those that may be averse to such input. Wear clothing appropriate not only to the weather, but also to the level of sensory input you can tolerate. Try to stay outside for a “just right” amount of time, that ensures the experience is neither over- nor under-stimulating.
6. Catch the Wind
Running in the wind can provide both proprioceptive, tactile and auditory input as you move through howling wind and possibly rain. Add focus and fun to the experience by using a trash bag to try to catch the wind!
A Quick Tip
Many of the activities listed above include variations on blowing. Why? Because as Bonnie Hacker explained in Eight Fun Oral Motor Activities to Improve Your Child’s Regulation, oral motor “activities tend to encourage deep breathing, which is organizing and regulating… often… as children are escalating… they move into shallow breathing patterns, which only increases their disregulation.” By integrating plenty of blowing into wind-inspired activities on a stormy day, deep breathing – and its calming effect – are encouraged. This is key not only to helping children with sensory integration challenges, to remain regulated, but also to keep everyone calm and focused.
A Note of Concern
I realize that for many, Sandy caused more than just a windy day spent mainly inside. The aftermath in some communities is enormous and my heart goes out to folks who are still dealing with the disaster.
If you live in one of the harder hit communities, please go easy in introducing any of the ideas here. While they are offered as a way to encourage fun and educational sensory diet activities centered around the theme of wind, they might be too much for those recently faced by storm trauma.