Indoor Sensory Ideas and Activities
By: Courtney Kowalczyk, M.Ed.
The snow continues to fall here in Michigan, and it seems like forever since my family and I were able to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about frostbite. Cabin fever is really beginning to set in. I cannot wait for the warm sunny spring days to arrive, and to go for a bike ride with my family!
The cabin fever that my family and I have been experiencing lately seems to be a common theme among many of the families with whom I have been working. This time of year seems to be difficult for all of us, and especially for children who have sensory processing difficulties. During the mid-winter months, we typically see an increase in sensory seeking behaviors due to the limited amount of play time outside or elsewhere. The holidays are now over as well, which means that the lights and intense sensory input of the holiday season has past. It is still important to make sure that the sensory needs of our kids are being met. Here are a few simple sensory ideas that you can use during the indoor times of the year.
- Set-up a sensory course. Children always seem to enjoy making and playing on indoor sensory courses. You can set-up a simple course in your living room, bedroom, or basement using household materials. Couch cushions, pillows, flat sheets, and other items are wonderful materials that you can use to create a sensory course. Your children will have a blast jumping into a pile of cushions, or crawling under a sheet!
- Increase tactile input. Many children enjoy touching or manipulating sticky or textured surfaces that provide them with great tactile input as well. Playing with shaving cream on a table surface can be very enjoyable, and it is also a great cleaning activity! You can make sensory stress balls by filling balloons with flour or sugar. Finally, finger painting with pudding or jell-o can be enjoyable, too.
- Take part in physical activities. Even when the weather is cold outside, you can still participate in physical activities. Playing hide and seek, doing the crab walk, or log rolling are great for sensory input as well as increasing physical activity. You can even do a 3-legged race indoors! If the weather is tolerable, then shoveling snow, ice skating, sledding, making snow angels, and building snowmen are great outdoor physical activities.
- Turn daily chores into the Winter Olympics. Playing games while doing chores always seems to make them more enjoyable for everyone. You can use those chores to help meet sensory needs as well. Shooting baskets with dirty clothes, playing pretend hockey with brooms and dust pans, and being a figure skater while picking up toys can be great fun!
We can all beat winter cabin fever by including more sensory activities in our daily routines. For children with sensory processing difficulties, it is even more important to make sure that they are getting the input they so desperately need. By following these simple sensory ideas, I hope everyone will be able to get the input they need during this time of year. Just keep in mind that spring really is right around the corner!