By: Alex Beschorner, Occupational Therapist
Here’s an Outdoor Sensory Activity that Can Have a Calming Affect on Your Child
Playing in the snow isn’t just fun… it is hard work!
As occupational therapists, we often recommend “heavy work” as a calming and organizing sensory activity for kiddos who might be working on self-regulation, attention, and focus. Playing in the snow is a great opportunity for kiddos to engage in full-body heavy work (that is, actions that involve pushing, pulling, and lifting with high resistance or heavy objects)!
Your child can help you shovel with a mini-snow shovel or can simply use large kitchen spoon or containers to scoop and dump the snow. Digging in the snow, with either tools or hands is a great high resistance activity and snow can also be packed down with little hands when making snowballs or a snow man. Stomping on the snow or trudging through deeper snow are great heavy work activities for those little legs. Lastly, your little one can load a sled up with snow (or a sibling!) and pull it and push it around the yard!
Indoor Sensory Activity – “Sensory Snow”
No snow outside? Make your own snow inside!
Is your child working on sensory regulation? Has your occupational therapist recommended tactile or messy play?
Well, making your own “snow” is a fun and easy winter-themed indoor activity, which is great for kiddos who really enjoy feeling new textures and for those who are working to build their tolerance for new textures. The “snow” is soft, squishable, and even cool to the touch! Children can pat it, poke it, squeeze it, shape it, and sprinkle it.
If your little one is not ready to touch the snow with his or her hands, he or she can drive cars through it or use animal toys to make tracks in the snow. For an added fine motor activity, you can place small objects (beads, toys, pipe cleaners, plastic animals) and challenge your child to find the object and pinch them out with only his or her thumb and pointer finger.
Here is the (super simple) recipe for Sensory Snow:
3 Cups Baking Soda
1 Cup Conditioner
Just mix the ingredients together in a large bowl or Tupperware tub!
(For another variation, try using shaving cream instead of conditioner).
If you are worried about your child putting the snow in his or her mouth, potato flakes make terrific play snow as well. You can leave them dry or add water for different sensory experiences!