The bulk of holiday celebrations are over. It is likely that the quantity of toys and stuff in your home has increased. The children have been out of school for a while now and the different structure or lack of routine may be presenting challenges. On top of that, it is time to prepare and plan to make the New Year the best year for your child. This is a perfect time to explore sensory ideas for after the holidays!
Reduce the Volume
This is a great time to clean out and reduce the number of toys your child has. Too many toys often overwhelm children, which typically results in limiting their play. Ideally, your child should only have 10-15 toys available at any given time. Blocks count as one toy. Give away or sell those toys that your child has outgrown and pack away the rest. Rotate toys every 1-2 months.
Activity Ideas for the Sensory Kiddos
Use this break from school for longer activities that you may not typically have time for.
Heavy Work Sensory Ideas for the Sensory Seeker
Take advantage of winter sports. Even if you do not live in the north, many communities have ice skating available. Ice skating provides an excellent heavy work (vestibular and proprioceptive) experience.
A Wintery Walk
Take a winter walk. Enhance a typical walk and make it a scavenger hunt, with a list of items to find. Bring those items home and create a collage or mobile.
Take your collage a step further and create a vision board! Vision Boards – Creative Goal Setting with Kids
In addition to or in place of a mobile, consider making your own natural wind chimes with your found items. Use Wind Chimes to Soothe Your Child
Add a filled backpack or pull a wagon to increase the heavy work of the activity.
Quite Time Sensory Ideas for the Sensory Defensive
Honor their need to have a break from the sensory overload of everyday life with some quiet activities at home.
Create an indoor fort that can remain in place for at least a week. Encourage your child to contribute their ideas and assist in construction. Stock with a flashlight, pillows, and fidgets. Consider adding audio books.
Sensory Ideas for both the Seeker & Defensive
Look for recipes that your child can do simple cutting with scissors rather than a knife. Recipes that encourage mixing with hands or spoon offers great input. Cracking eggs reinforces gradient control. Measuring offers mathematical education.
Build an Indoor Obstacle Course
Using cushions, pillows, tables, boxes, and chairs, build an indoor obstacle course. Again, encourage your child to contribute their ideas. Depending on your child’s age and abilities, have them draw or write out a plan for the obstacle course.
Make it Game Time
I love games for many reasons. Games are a fun way to bring family members of varying ages together. Games are wonderful for developing motor skills, socialization and language skills, depending on the game chosen.
We always have fun with the game eeBoo Obstacles Game, a cooperative game that requires teamwork, creativity and communication to overcome obstacles and make it home.
Provide an Intensive Therapy Program
A week or two offers a great opportunity to implement an intensive therapy experience, aiming for 5-6 times a day.
This could be something you design using input from your child’s occupational therapist or books like The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder.
With instruction from an occupational therapist, you can create a more formal program like The Wilbarger Deep Pressure (brushing) Protocol to address defensiveness. Consider starting a DIR/Floortime program, involving play periods of 20-30 minutes designed to facilitate communication and socialization.
Plan for the New Year with New Sensory Ideas
Take a little time to review what has worked for this past year and what hasn’t. Think about your goals, wishes, and dreams for your child in the coming year. Talk to your child and learn about the goals they have for the coming year. Collaboratively decide on a few steps to take during the break that will help move towards those goals.
If you have not set up a notebook or binder for your child to collect evaluations, home programs, school records, and such, do so now as this can be an invaluable tool in successfully meeting your child’s needs.
Take full advantage of the extended holiday break to clear out the old, make room for the new and have some good old sensory fun in between!