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Sensory Diet - StrawsRandom national observances can provide great inspiration for sensory diet fun.

Take National Drinking Straw Day, for instance.  This little-known observance was celebrated on January 3 in honor of the invention and patenting of the paper drinking straw by Marvin C. Stone in 1888.  However, fabulous sensory fun can be had with drinking straws all year round.  Just pick up some straws and don your on  Sensory Savvy Lenses to meet the challenge!

Today’s Challenge: Drinking Straws

Original Purpose: Sucking up liquids

With Sensory Savvy Lenses: Inexpensive for auditory, fine motor, oral motor, proprioceptive and visual input.

What can YOU and your child with sensory challenges do with straws?  Try these give activities!

Build a Straw Structure
Cut straws into 24 inch pieces.  At each end of each piece, cut slits.  Then, using a deck of index cards and the straw pieces as connectors, see what sort of structure you can build.  A house?  A tower?  A fence?  Build high, low, long and wide to encourage the greatest proprioceptive input.  Great for enhancing scissor skills and fine motor skills too!

Make Some Blow Art
Drop several different colored drops of food coloring or paint onto a sheet of paper.  Using a straw begin blowing to spread the color in interesting firework-like patterns.  Blowing through the straw should be calming while the designs created may be visually stimulating.

Meet the Mini Marshmallow Challenge
Solo, as a team, or in competition with others, try to transfer a bag of mini marshmallows from a tabletop to a cup by touching them only with a single drinking straw.  This might involve strengthening the pincer grasp as you bend a straw in half and use it like chopsticks to transfer the marshmallows.  Or, it might include working out your oral-motor skills as you suck through a straw to pick up a marshmallow and then blow to drop it in the cup.

Try Your Hand at a Drinking Straw Maze
On the inside base of a pizza box, glue drinking straws down in a maze pattern.  Once the glue dries, drop a marble in and move the box around to get the marble through the maze.  Building the maze will work fine motor skills.  Playing with it offers visual tracking opportunities among other things.

Put Together a Straw Sensory Bag – 1 
Place drinking straws, chenille strips (otherwise known as pipe cleaners) and some scissors in a sensory bin.  Then, sit back and be amazed a the jewelry, creatures and structures that may be created.  If needed, demonstrate a few ways the materials can be used to encourage sensory-smart engagement.

Make and Play the Bunny Blow Game
Use a box, a picture of a bunny, straws and cotton balls to put together a Bunny Blow Game kit.  Then, place the “Bunny Box” on the floor.   Move away from it.  Place cotton ball on the floor.  And, using straw, try to blow cotton ball to the spot on the “Bunny Box” where the tail is.

Drink Thick Substances
Tried-and-true by many with sensory challenges,  sipping something of a thick consistency through a straw can be quite calming.  So, pop a straw into a smoothie or some applesauce to encourage oral-motor heavy work that helps regulate the nervous system.

Make and Play Straw Pan Flute
Using non-bendable straws, cut 10 straws into differing lengths, with 1/4 to 1/2 inch difference between lengths.  Gently blow over the top of each straw to see what sound it makes.  Then, line the straws up shortest to longest and tape them together like a pan flute.  Get some auditory input as you enjoy playing your homemade instrument.

Put Together a Straw Sensory Bag – 2
Work motor skills cutting straws into short pieces.  Then, pop them into a zip-lock bag.  Reinforce the edges by taping them with duct tape. And, presto, you have an ultra-simple, yet engaging sensory bag.

Blow Bubbles
With a straw, a bowl and some bubble mix, sensory-smart exploration is a no-brainer.  See how many mega bubbles you can blow.

You can even mix in some Scientific Process learning as we did in our home.

For more ideas, visit 8 Fun Oral Sensory Activities to Improve Your Child’s Regulation or search the term Drinking Straw Crafts on your favorite search engine for more sensory-smart drinking ideas.

No matter what sort of sensory input you need, with a little imagination,  some straws, along with everyday household items you can have sensational therapeutic fun!

Break out these fantastic sensory tools today!

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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.