Do you have a child that fidgets with everything? Gets frustrated easily? Needs help calming down? You are not alone! Due to our oldest son’s struggles with sensory processing disorder and anxiety, he can get really worked up and overstimulated easily. Just like our Lego Calm Down Jar, these Lego Calming Stress Balls have been a lifesaver many times over the past few months and has become a family favorite for quiet time.
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DIY stress balls are nothing new. In fact, I bet you have seen them or maybe even made them yourself. I know my son has brought them home from OT (occupational therapy) and we’ve made them several times over the last few years. I have seen some really awesome ones around the internet as well, that I will share at the end of this post.
Not sure what I am talking about?
DIY sensory balls are balloons filled with some sort of substance that makes them squeezable and sometimes even moldable. The ingredients vary depending on the version you find. Just fill the balloon, tie it and put it in your fidget box, calm down bin, or even in your favorite backpack.
Feeling stressed? Give it a squeeze. Feeling frustrated? squeeze it. Feeling nervous? You guessed it, squeeeeeze!
If you know us, you know just how much our son loves anything and everything Lego. You might call it an obsession. However, we use that obsession to encourage learning and to get him to try things he might otherwise be opposed to. So guess what we turned our stress balls into? You guessed it… Lego Men!!!!
Why Should You Have a Calming Stress Ball?
Stress balls can be found everywhere, not just in the homes of children with difficulties regulating their emotions. Walk into almost any office, and you will find one of these balls sitting in a drawer or being used by a busy worker. Why? What’s so great about a stress ball?
The Science Behind a Stress Ball | Did you know that there is science that actually proves why these things work? Crazy, right? When we receive information we receive it through two channels: the sensory channel (sight, sound, texture, etc) and the intellectual ( making sense of words/context, etc).
The science actually suggests that if a basic sensory channel is “blocked”, we can’t experience or learn information as fully; the intellectual channel is muted. Huge parts of our brains are dedicated to processing the information that enters our hands. Therefore, if we use stress relief techniques that concentrate on our hands, we will can essentially “mute” the stress on a “thinking” level.
Who knew, right?
The Sensory Behind a Stress Ball | Stress balls have a purpose. Yes, they are super cute and super fun (we will get to that next) but they are also extremely helpful from a sensory benefit. Because everyone has sensory needs, we are constantly trying to organize, process, and make sense of the world around us. As a way to cope with any stresses in our environment, we naturally create habits of seeking out a variety of sensory input to help us regulate how we are feeling.
That is where stress balls come in. They provide the obvious tactile input as you squeeze, roll, and fidget with them in your hands. However, even more so, they provide important proprioceptive input to your joints to help your brain organize the information it is receiving, making them wonderful to use during school work, stressful situations, and large group settings.
The Emotion Behind a Stress Ball |Let it go!!! Can you hear me singing that? No really, Stress balls are amazing at helping you put your frustrations, anger and pinned up energy into. Squeeze them, pull them, twist them, and even throw them. All of these options are better than taking your anger and frustrations out on other people. As you will see, some stress balls can also be a catalyst for teaching emotions and social cues by adding faces and emotions to the stress balls.
The Fun Behind a Stress Ball | Look at them! They are too cute and fun! Right? Goodness knows, my children are in love with them. Everyone from the toddler to the parents love putting them in their hands and squeezing, manipulating and rolling the balls. The addition of the Lego features have made these stress balls irresistible in our home. Our toddler goes around the house saying “Guy, Guy…” and then lights up when we find her a Lego stress ball.
How to Make a Lego Calming Stress Ball
As I mentioned before, making stress balls is super easy. Balloon plus a fun texture and you have a stress ball. But how do you make them look like Lego Men? How do you give them a flat head?
Materials for Lego Stress Balls
A Variety of Fillings:
Homemade Playdough (our favorite)
Cornstarctarch and Water (we mixed this in the ballon to make it easier to mix)
Directions for Making DIY Lego Stress Balls
Step One: To make the flat top (the nob on the lego head), you will want to open the balloon and put a plastic bottle lid (we used the lid from a bottled water).
Step Two: Use a funnel to fill the ballon with the desired filler. Some fillers might need a little more caution than others.
Step Three: Tie the ballon on the bottom and let your boards start to run themselves
Step Four: Make it Personal. Add a different emotion on each balloon. I’ve included some resources for Lego emotions later on. Remember how I said that stress balls are great for emotions? Our Lego Stress balls lend themselves to entire units of study on emotions and appropriate responses.
After searching high and low, I found some pretty awesome resources for emotions and Lego. In fact, later this week I will share all the cool ideas I found! For now, I have pinned them to my special board on Pinterest I use for all things calming and emotional support!
Step Five: Implement. Anytime you are feeling worried, stressed, upset or just need a little something to take the edge off, grab a stress ball and get started. Pull, stretch, roll, twist, or squeeze. Get those hands busy, so your brains can reorganize.
More Resources For Calming and Anxiety for Kids
Do you ever have a need to calm down or help a child calm down? Have you ever made a calm down jar or something else? I would love to hear about it. If you have made something, I would love for you to hop over to Facebook and tell me about it!