Sensory boxes are not simply for use in occupational therapy sessions. These days, we often integrate different resources to engage children and all of their senses. This helps them to participate more and focus less on the skill building part of the activity. The best part is they have fun and want to continue working on their goals. Halloween is the perfect time to combine all of this together to use in a variety of ways.
Pumpkin Dough Time
Kids adore playing with dough which they can squish around in their hands. Take some time to make pumpkin dough with them using two a can of pumpkin puree and a box of cornstarch. The complete directions for Taste Safe Pumpkin Play Dough can be found on Parenting Chaos. Once the dough is ready, be creative and come up with activities for the children you work with.
- OT – Laminate shape cards before the session. Kids can practice making them freehand or using the laminated card as a guide.
- Speech – Give kids free time to sculpt a creature. Allow them to use autumn items like pumpkin seeds, acorns, leaves, and more. Let them know ahead of time that you will be sharing the story of their creation at the end. Allow time for everyone to share their tale at the end.
- Social Skills – Make pumpkin faces which depict certain feelings with the dough. What would a sad, glad, mad, frightened, or other pumpkin face look like to others?
- Special Education – Work with children on sequencing to explain how they make a dough shape, letter, number. Model the activity and then allow each child to lead the group.
Spooky Halloween Sensory Bins
Halloween sensory bins are great for all ages and session types. They allow children to be involved and get their minds going. Use a giant plastic container which can be placed on a tabletop or floor. Fill the container with a variety of items which may be a talking point, spooky, and engaging. If you use foods for fillers, be sure to check on any allergies with students.
Dried black beans, rice dyed orange or black, or even orange lentils will work. Different base items will change the sensory experience. Next, toss in Halloween themed goodies that kids can search for. Head to the dollar store or Halloween section of stores for things which may work well. Suggestions include plastic critters, eraser ghosts, spider rings, bats, holiday sequins, and other crafting items that will mix in nicely.
Clinicians should give kids time to explore the mix of sensory goodies. Talk to them about the way it feels. Use descriptive words to do this. For children who are working on fine motor skills, have some tweezers for them to pick up smaller items during an I Spy type of game. You may also hide in cards with prompts for kids to do when they find it. This can focus on a variety of skills.
Do not forget families at home. Share suggestions on how they may make their own sensory boxes or pumpkin dough at home. Be sure to ask whether families have Halloween or fall traditions which are important to their multilingual identities. What are some must-have items that you will you include in your sensory box? Share with us in the comments section below!