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glow stick sensory dietThe Fourth of July festivities have passed and celebratory gear is on sale.  So, it is time to scoop up a seasonal favorite, which can really brighten up sensory diet activities.

If you put on your sensory-savvy lenses and get creative, you can use [easyazon_link asin=”B00NQJ2DBG” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”speciism0f-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]glow sticks [/easyazon_link] in activities which encourage:

  • auditory inputSensationalBrain Approved
  • fine motor skills
  • motor planning
  • proprioceptive input
  • tactile input
  • visual input

Balloon Bat

To promote visual tracking and motor planning, slip an activated glow stick or two inside a white balloon, dim the lights or go outside once it starts getting dark.  Then, bat the balloon back and forth between two players using only hands.

Extend the activity by using [easyazon_link asin=”B00FPQQIAA” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”speciism0f-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]badminton rackets[/easyazon_link], towels stretched out and held by multiple players or other batting implements.

Glow Scavenger Hunt

Choose an indoor or outdoor location that is familiar to all players and without dangerous obstacles.  Hide a number of glow sticks, and on “go” have players try to find them.

In competitive play, whoever finds the most glow sticks wins.

In cooperative play, have everyone try to find all of the  glow sticks of a certain color before collecting those of another.   In both, offer the glow sticks as the prize for completing the scavenger hunt.

When hiding glow sticks, consider the specific input that players may need.  Think about hiding some glow sticks high and some low, sticking some out from relatively heavy objects and some inside tunnel like areas, in order to encourage proprioceptive input.  To ensure a decent dose of tactile input, hide them in and around areas with different textured surfaces, such as under shaggy throw rugs, on hard floors, between  soft grass, under smooth stones, etc.

Hide and Glow Seek

Encourage fine motor skills by having players dress themselves up with a variety of glow necklaces, bracelets, earrings, glasses and other creative glow stick wear.

Then, dim the lights or go outside at dusk and play a traditional game of hide and seek.  Players are sure to get some proprioceptive input in as they play.

Glow Bowling

Get some fine motor input by having children put activated glow sticks and a few small stones into empty plastic bottles.

Then, set these up as bowling pins and enjoy Glow Bowling on the lawn or in a darkened room to promote visual tracking, motor planning and proprioceptive input.

Glow Ring Toss

Again, get fine motor input by having children put activated glow sticks and a few small stones into empty plastic bottles, only this time add extra fine motor manipulation by having children make some of the glow sticks into rings, too.

Then, use the glow stick rings in a traditional game of ring toss by using the bottles as pegs to throw the glow sticks onto.  Doing so makes for a fun and effective eye-hand coordination game.

Evening Shot Put

For proprioceptive input and visual tracking, use strong clear tape, such as packing tape or clear duct tape to tape glow sticks to [easyazon_link asin=”B000S5JMPG” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”speciism0f-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]relatively heavy balls[/easyazon_link], and in the evening have players stand at a line and try to throw the balls the furthest distance possible.  Use a different color glow stick for each player’s balls.

Similarly, try this with frisbees.  Watching the glow sticks spin on the flying discs can be quite impressive!

Glow Bin

For a fantastic tactile experience, with a side of visual and even auditory input, fill a sensory bin with sand, bean or sudsy water, some glow sticks and a few empty containers for filling and pouring.  Dim the lights and enjoy!

Supersize this activity putting glow sticks in a sudsy tubby.

Notes and Tips

  • Be sensitive to differing sensory needs, and make appropriate accommodations, such as limiting the number of glow stick colors used in an activity or wearing gloves when doing tactile activities.
  • Don’t neglect the joy and creativity that can come from just putting out a bin of glow sticks and some loose parts.  It’s amazing what children come up with when you do.  Here, we often end up getting in some great vestibular input as we dodge each other in imaginary glow light saber battles.
  • Always consider safety precautions.  The chemicals inside glow sticks can be painful if ingested or gotten in the eyes.  Use care not to break sticks open.

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Martianne is a homeschooling mom with over 20 years of experience in education, youth work and dramatic arts both in the United States and abroad. With certifications as a Middle School Generalist and English 8-12 teacher, plus a drawer full of certificates from a wide variety of professional development workshops and graduate courses, she brings a comprehensive "traditional" background to her present-day creative pursuits. Visit Martianne at Training Happy Hearts.