Sensory Tools | Sensory Kit for School or Home

Helping a child with sensory needs focus and process their surrounds can be a difficult task. Finding just the right sensory tools, knowing how to use them, and helping your child succeed can get overwhelming and expensive.

After learning about my son’s sensory needs and anxiety disorder, I knew I needed to find some tools that could help him be successful in both school and home. So last year, just before school started, I gathered up some simple items from local stores and created a Sensory Kit that he could take to school with him and one we could have at home for weekends and stressful events. I am excited to share our sensory kit with you and hope you will find it useful both at home and school, or as a travel kit for all your sensory tools.

Sensory Kit for School or Home

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If you are a regular here, you know that we homeschool our children. You probably also know that this isn’t something we have always done, nor is it something we ever thought we would do. While this kit was something I made last year to help Legoman in a crowded public school setting, it is something we still use on a daily basis. We use it (or parts of it) for trips, car rides, visits to family, summer camps and even birthday parties. Over the last year, we have perfected the contents of our sensory kit, adding and subtracting things as we found the right fit for our son.

In fact, we have found some really neat items that we have added to our sensory kit at home, that I am excited to share in a new series on sensory tools. I will share books for parents, calm down tools, and tools to help organize and focus your child. I hope you will like us on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter to stay connected through the series.

What is a Sensory Kit?

Sensory Backpack for School or Home

A sensory kit is a bag, box, crate or container that holds a variety of sensory tools that can be used to both calm and stimulate a child’s sensory system. Typically, it is portable and easy to maneuver as a way to make the tools accessible at all times to the child or children in need. Often times, children with sensory needs also struggle with organization, therefore a kit enables them to keep everything in one place and easy to find when the time comes to use one of the tools.

A sensory kit will be unique to each individual as each child is unique and has their own needs. Finding the perfect fit is like finding the perfect pair of shoes. You might have to try on a few before you find the perfect fit, but when you do… the walk will be much smoother and a whole lot more comfortable.

In this post, I will share the choices we made for Legoman’s (age 9) kit, and additional items you can include in your sensory kit.

What is in a Sensory Kit?

As I mentioned before, a sensory kit will have varied items inside depending on your child’s needs and interests. In essence, you want to include items that will both help alert and calm children (as these needs occur at different times in a day), items that will reduce stress or sensory triggers, and items that will provide sensory input to your child without being overly distracting to the other children around them.

When we made our sensory kit, I wanted to make sure I could make it easily and without having to order expensive materials. Almost all of the items you will see listed in our kit are all items we found at a local hardware store, Target, or the Dollar Store.

For your convenience, I have linked the items directly to Amazon, so you can find the tools easily and quickly.

UPDATE: Since this bag has been such a hit, we have launched our own store where we sell these completed kits. But that’s not all! For every kit purchased, a portion of the proceeds goes towards donating kits to classrooms in need! 

Here is a list of the tools we have in our son’s sensory kit and what they are used for.

Tools To Calm/ Reduce Sensory Overload

Tools to Help Calm Anxiety and sensory Overload

Noise Reducing Earmuffs | These are great in busy and loud situations. For Legoman, this means lunchrooms, auditoriums, grocery stores, and especially bathrooms. This is one of the newest additions to our sensory kit and it has been life changing. We resisted getting them at first, but have seen such a change in grocery store trips since purchasing them at our local hardware store.

When My Worries Get Too Big | We love this social storybook that is personalized. Before school started, we worked through triggers and possible ways to handle situations when he was overwhelmed or frustrated. The book is colorful and he enjoys reading it while he is calming in a safe spot.

Magazines/ Comics/ Mazes | This will vary for your child, however, for Legoman nothing soothes him faster than looking at his favorite comic or doing a few mazes. This is meant as a tool for keeping him busy (in the doctor’s office for example) or for calming him during his alone time.

Tools for Fidgeting and Tactile Input

Sensory Tools for Fidgeting

Hand Fidget | We actually have had several of these over the last year since our son has tends to love them a little too much. He has taken them apart, twisted them, and moved them until we had to get a new version. The one shown above was actually from the Dollar Store. It is a little more rigid than this one we loved before, but we still love it.

Squeezing Stress Tool | This is great for proprioceptive input, tactile input and as a stress reliever when things get busy, loud or overwhelming. It is great for hand strength and is easy to conceal under a desk or in a lap at the carpet.

Flexible Bracelet| While this is actually an oral tool, it is great for fidgeting and proprioceptive input. Legoman loves to squeeze it, pull it, and twist it as we read his favorite book or have an important conversation. One of the best parts is that it is also wearable for accessibility and is one of the most durable chew jewelry items we have found (which we need since he chews on everything!)

Desk Buddy Ruler | We found this tool at our favorite sensory store that was local at the time we purchased it. However, now they only have an online store. This ruler is great for so many things. It can be placed on the edge of the desk/table, inside the desk (for discreetness), or can be put in a child’s lap. It is great for tactile input and keeping children alert and focused during a lesson. This too can be twisted, turned, and squeezed for more pressure and sensory input.

Hand Putty| This is an alternative to theraputty. You can make your own, add in homemade playdough, or purchase your own. We use this for so many reasons. We use it as a calm down tool (something to do in a calm space), as a way to provide tactile and proprioceptive input, and a way to include sensory play in his daily learning.

Tools for Oral Stimulation and Focusing Attention

Sensory Tools for Oral stimulation

CamelBack Water Bottle | In our house we never go anywhere without our water bottle and gum. The bite valve on this water bottle is excellent for oral stimulation and deep pressure massage, while the also helping regulate the nervous system as children drink from the straw. This is such a discreet and easy way to provide children with sensory input in a classroom.

GumI know you probably are thinking I am crazy with this one. Would you believe, we actually had gum written into Legoman’s IEP when he was in school so that he would be allowed to have it at anytime. This is another staple in our house. We actually joke that we should take up stock, or buy a gum company. But in all honestly, the oral stimulation that gum provides Legoman is unmatched by anything else. The amount that it calms and soothes him is remarkable. I would suggest a sugar free, low flavor gum, so that the focus is on the sensory input, not on eating something yummy.

Hard Candy/Mints Again, I am sure you are thinking, “Yeah right”, however hard candy and crunchy foods have been proven to increase alertness and focus. Why do you think you find them in the middle of tables at conferences and meetings for adults?

Disc Necklace  | There are several chewable jewelry options available and believe me when I tell you that we tried them all. We ended up with this chewie because of its thickness and texture.

Tools for Proprioceptive Input (Deep Pressure)

tools for Proprioceptive InputBackpack | One of the great things about the sensory kit is that it is all housed in a simple and easy to organize backpack. We found the simplest, least expensive backpack for our kit at Target during Back to School sales. The backpack can be worn from class to class, on the playground, in the gym, or for a trip down the hall and back to provide proprioceptive input (heavy work).

Hand WeightsYou have probably heard of weighted lap pads and weighted vests for proprioceptive input to help regulate children’s sensory needs. This was our alternative last year when we didn’t have time to make a lap pad, didn’t have the money for a weighted blanket, and weren’t sure if we wanted to do a weighted vest yet. I found these at Target in the workout area for 5$. They are great because they are each only 2 pounds and they work great as a lap pad while my son is seated to do work.

How Do You Use a Sensory Kit?

Sensory Support Tools for School or Home

It is extremely important to teach your child and any caregiver that will be with your child HOW TO USE the materials in the kit. For Legoman, we spent the two weeks before school started exploring each item one at a time and going over acceptable and unacceptable ways to use the materials. Here are a few tips for teaching your child how to use the tools in the kit:

  • Start with one item at a time, and add to the kit slowly.
  • Practice using the tools when they are NOT needed.
  • Use picture cues or prompts to remind children when tools are appropriate.
  • Allow your child time to explore the tool before expecting them to use it appropriately.

Lastly, I would suggest being flexible. Some of these tools may or may not work for your child. You might find something that works for awhile and then not any longer. Be willing to try new things and follow your child’s needs and interests. Once you find something that works, you will feel the relief and you will know its something to keep around for those times its really needed.

Update! Now you can get your own Sensory Toolkit from Project Sensory! 

Project Sensory Banner

Additional Sensory Resources

What is Sensory Processing | Lemon Lime Adventures

Preparing for School with Sensory Needs | A Sensory Life

Do you know a child with sensory needs, too? What would you add to your sensory kit? How do you use it? I would love to know! Leave me a comment or stop my Facebook and tell me! Also, don’t forget to connect with me on FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestInstagram or subscribe by email so you don’t miss our next adventures.

 

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39 thoughts on “Sensory Tools | Sensory Kit for School or Home”

  1. chelsi wallis

    This is so great. Would relieve a parents stress over worring about kids at school with sensory issues

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      We use it for so many instances!

  2. Courtney

    Getting back into the swing of the school day can be rough. I’d love to have these items on hand to help the transition go smoother. Also for long car rides. Great Ideas. Thanks!!

  3. Angela S.

    Great ideas! I’d love to send my kiddo back to school with sensory supplies.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      So glad you like it! Hope it helps!

  4. Great ideas. I am thinking of sending something to school for fidgeting fingers, but I am worried that the teacher will disallow its use.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Oh I hope not! For one class, I actually donated it to the class for everyone to use 🙂

    2. Please talk to your child’s teacher about this! I teach kindergarten and have used a variety of sensory tools with a variety of students over the years. I would be overjoyed if a parent initiated this conversation! 🙂

      1. Lemon Lime Adventures

        Absolutely! I would have loved to have this in my classroom!

  5. Katie McCarthy

    I love the sensory kit idea, we are starting kindergarten in a few weeks

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Awesome! I hope it works for you! Be sure to let me know!

  6. victoria gosbee

    This is awesome but do you have to have all of these tools added into your child’s IEP so that the teachers wont take the items away during classes?

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      I would speak to your child’s teacher for sure and make sure everyone is on the same page about how and when the items can be used. You can most definitely put these items into an IEP or 504 plan.

  7. This is a really great list of things to help my sensory kiddo. I think I’ll grab a bunch of these for her backup since she’s starting at a new school.

  8. Kate R.

    Excited about the chewigems discount code. Going to got the new cat pendant for my son. Going to check the dollar store for that hand fidget too! He loves his camelbak.

  9. AJ

    Awesome guide! I will be adding some these suggetion and doing my work bag. Thanks for making a guide that can be used by any one even an adult!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Wonderful! We love this bag, in fact many have asked if they can buy it, so we are in the works of figuring out details. 🙂

  10. Lindsay

    These are great tips! We’ve recently started OT with my daughter for her sensory needs.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      So glad this was helpful!

  11. Tammy Bessette

    My younger son (he is 9) has a sensory kit we have some things mentioned in the article and we also have bubble wrap and Velcro strips on a homemade bracelet he likes the sound and feel of the Velcro, helps him to stay calm while in the supermarket or at the mall.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      That is a great idea. When I was in the classroom, we used to put velcro under the desks to help children who would stim or need input.

  12. this is absolutely fantastic, thanks so much for sharing!!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      You are very welcome!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      I agree. 🙂

  13. Christine Smith

    Thank you for all the suggestions. My little one is heading to Kindergarten and is a chewer.

  14. Crystal Rivas

    This is an amazing blog! Working as an occupational therapist in the public school setting, I find this sensory pack a great resource. I plan to share this blog and your many great ideas with teachers and parents. Keep on doing what you do. You are truly a blessing to the rest of us.
    Crystal

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      That means so much! Thank you so much!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      We do too! 🙂

  15. Thank you for this Blog entry! I have recommended it to my client’s parents becuase it is full of so many wonderful ideas!!!

  16. Paula

    My grandson’s favorite by far is any kind of Thinking Putty. Comes in many colors and scents, also color changing. Great for the pack!
    I tumble rocks so I include a smooth rock as well- large enough to not swallow.
    I made a small plastic sensory bottle with baby oil, glitter, and sequins. If upset we try to shake it and get calm before all is settled to the bottom.

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  18. Ann Mckenna

    I have a child in my setting with a sensory disorder and my problem is she scratches.
    This is very difficult as she is such a sociable child and due to the scratching we
    can not let her sit beside another child.
    Any one with ideas to overcome this.
    During exercise /music/songs we have to put on gloves.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      I would find out what the trigger to the scratching is and then give her alternatives like sandpaper, fidgets, or even putty in her hands during group times.

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