My three year old is busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. We’ve put her in a half day preschool because she seems to just crave activities. Yet, before she leaves the house at noon, she has done more in a few hours than I can even type out in an hour. Just thinking about how much she squeezes into that amount of time exhausts me. This is the same girl that at one year of age was found standing on the kitchen table. Yeah, when other children her age are learning to walk and talk, she was learning to climb out of her high chair and onto the table in less than 1 second. To say she is busy is really an understatement. The good news is I have finally found something I truly believe every busy kid needs (or the parents of busy kids, actually).
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On my kitchen table right now I have three trays. One filled with kinetic sand, a pie plate and serving dishes for pretend pumpkin pie making. One filled with three different slimes we’ve made this week, tiny toys to hide in the slime and tweezers to pull them out. Finally, on the last tray I have stamps, letter cards and different variations of paper. Remember, my child is busy. If I don’t make these trays and pre-plan a few activities my house will be turned upside down before I’ve even had my morning coffee. I need activities. My daughter craves activities. While I know the importance of open ended play, there are times that a little guidance is just what I need to have the slightest bit of sanity.
Just the other day, a friend was telling me about how she can never come up with enough ideas to keep her little one busy. Oh, how I feel her pain. That’s when I started to think about how I might be able to help her.
You see, for the last few years, I have been learning as much as I can about the importance of our sensory preferences on how all of us interact with others each and every day. I have learned that sensory activities are so much more than just messy activities that require more cleaning than they do good. No, instead I have learned that multi-sensory activities can be true solutions for busy kids.
52 Sensory Challenges for Busy Kids
You might have heard about sensory activities or challenges before, but might have thought… “those aren’t for my kid.” My kid isn’t a toddler. Or My kid doesn’t have special needs. I want to stop you for a moment and clarify something about sensory activities.
You see, multi-sensory activities are so much more!
It’s the difference between good teachers and great teachers.
Great teachers know that all kids benefit from a whole-body, multi-sensory approach to learning. They get kids out of their seats, let them get their hands dirty, and use a variety of media to capture kids’ attention and keep them engaged.
The good news is that as parents, we can use these same ideas to introduce sensory play at home.
We can use these sensory play activities to help kids learn about their bodies and the way their sensory systems work. Through these play experiences, kids can learn about their own unique sensory preferences – what revs them up, what calms them down, what helps them focus, and what makes them feel overwhelmed.
Most of all, sensory play and multi-sensory learning are great ways to increase participation, promote creativity, and encourage exploration for all kids. Sensory experiences allow kids to move their bodies, interact with their surroundings, and blow off steam…all while making important gains in cognitive and motor development.
Maybe you have a child who always has something in his mouth. Or maybe your child is constantly making noise. All kids have their own unique sensory makeup and no matter what your child’s unique preferences are, there are sensory activities that will appeal to him by engaging his sensory systems in that “just right” way. Here are 52 sensory challenges to get you started today, no matter your prior knowledge or comfort level with trying new activities with your kids.
Sensory Challenges for Kids Who Are Always on the Move
Challenge Your Friends to Hula Hoops
Play on a Swing
Walk Like an Animal
Do a Scavenger Hunt
Play Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Make a DIY Balance Board
Make Shadows with Your Body
Play Hide and Seek
Go on a Sensory Walk
Run Through an Obstacle Course
Sensory Challenges for Kids Who Explore the World with Their Hands
Make a Simple Sensory Bin
Write Your Name in a Sensory Bag
Mix Up Simple Playdough
Rub Your Feet on Marbles
Make a Touch and Feel Book
Write Your Name in Shaving Cream
Hide Marbles in Slime
Find 7 Textures In Your Room
Sensory Challenges for Kids Who Crave Jungle Gyms
Sensory Challenges for Kids Who Insist on Stopping to Smell the Roses
Sensory Challenges for Kids Who Seek Loud Noises
Create a Sound Lab
Build a DIY Rainstick
Play a Drum
Navigate a Maze Blindfolded
Make Your Own Rainstorm
Sensory Challenges for Kids Who Always Have Something In Their Mouth
Make a Yogurt Smoothie
Try Blowing a Feather Across the Room
Challenge Your Friends to Ice Boat Race
Do a Taste Test
Make a Sour Drink
Make Ice Cream in a Bag
Make Homemade Granola
Drink Applesauce Through a Straw
Sensory Challenges for Kids Who Enjoy Mazes and Look and Finds
Play a Game of Mirror Mirror
Make an Alphabet Sensory Bin
Make Simple Doodles
Create a Sensory Bottle
Play Ispy with a Twist
Create a Maze with Cardboard
Make Shadow Puppets
Whether you’re at home with your little ones, mapping out your next therapy session, or planning some activities for your classroom, the fun and simple ideas on today’s free printable are perfect for keeping kids engaged and entertained one-on-one or in a group setting.
Now, you can get your FREE printable challenges and three sample activities to do with your child! This simple, three-page set is a great way to get started with sensory activities that will keep your busy kid’s attention and support their sensory needs to the fullest.