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Teachers, make your lesson times more purposeful and fun.  Start looking at common objects and events in new ways. Simple objects around the home and classroom can be used in creative ways to meet the sensory needs of children.  In this article, I am going to get you to look at a simple old fly swatter in a whole new way.

That simple fly swatter can offer sound and sight fun, a tactile tool, a fun sensory break, vestibular input, a visual tracking tool for exploring science or math, and even a proprioceptive tool.  Lets see how…

Paint – Old Fly Swatter Style

Spread large paper or cardboard pieces on a table, floor or lawn.

Secure the corners with tape, rocks or whatever is on hand.

Then, pour some paint into a shallow container, such as a recycled meat tray or a brownie pan.

Dip a fly swatter in and gently lift it out.

Then, SLAP! Hit the swatter against the paper or cardboard to make a print while garnering mild proprioceptive input.

Next, note the way the paint flips off the fly swatter when it is first lifted from the paper.

Is it sticky? That’s okay. It’s all a part of the fun.

Simply tug the swatter away gently and paint may flip off in interesting patterns. Have the kids visually track where the paint flipped to.

Then, keep swatting until the prints you’re making get very light in color.  For auditory discrimination, note the change in sound as the amount of paint on the swatter lessens.

Re-dip the swatter, perhaps in another paint color to add more interest to your finished artwork.

When done, let the artwork dry where it is while you wash the swatters and containers.

Explore More >> Art Therapy

Slap Shaving Cream with an Old Fly Swatter 

Spread shaving cream on a table or mat – outside is best!

Grab some goggles or sunglasses if eyes are sensitive.

Slap the shaving cream with a fly swatter and see what happens.

When slapping shaving cream with sensory seekers, lots may splatter!

For those who are sensory avoiders, a little splatter may be all they can handle.

Without a doubt all children will find this to be an easy, albeit messy, outdoor fun activity.

This is a fun activity to garner tactile input and mild proprioceptive input.  Target the sounds for auditory input. Visually track the splatter.  No matter how you slice it or dice it or splat it, this is surely a fun sensory input activity.

Create Baby Bubbles with an Old Fly Swatter 

Grab a shallow container and pour some bubble mix in –scented if you want to stimulate the olfactory senses, too.  If your goal is to create calm, consider adding a few drops of a calming essential oil.  If you are looking to alert the children for an upcoming lesson, consider adding a few drops of an alerting essential oil.

Then, dip a fly swatter in.

Hold the swatter out with straight arms and spin slowly in a circle, allowing the swatter to release a spectacle of tiny bubbles.

For visual tracking, have each child choose one bubble to watch it until it bursts or disappears from sight.

Follow up with science-linked lessons on bubbles or math ones using recipes (think fractions and numbers here) for bubble mix.

Explore More >> Bubbles: 7 Ideas to Stimulate the Senses

Swat the Answer with an Old Fly Swatter

Using chalk on a black board, markers on a white board, marker on paper taped to a wall or chalk on a hardtop, write a collection of target answers.

Then, give out fly swatters.

Call out questions and have players run to swat the correct answer, secretly garnering proprioceptive input in this movement activity. This will get player’s muscles and brains moving, whether there is one player or several teams of them.

Questions can be anything from letters of the alphabet to identifying parts of speech to solving math problems to finding words that match definitions.  There is no limit to your imagination.

Whether you are seeing fun and purposeful lessons or sensory break ideas look for common objects in new ways.  The simplest of objects may become a favored sensory diet activity! Tell us, what simple objects have you converted into sensory tools?  Tell us on Facebook or Twitter!

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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.