You know how there are just some things you show your kids that are instant hits? A surprise trip to an amusement park or ice cream for dinner will instantly bring on on the cheers and be one of those days that kids remember long after the awesome day has passed. This Wobble Balance Ice Disc is one of those things.
Add sensory play to the outdoors with this vestibular activity.
We’ve been sharing fun proprioception and sensory ideas recently for winter play and therapy ideas on our January Occupational Therapy calendar. This ice balance tool is on the calendar and is a balance activity that you really need to try.
Wobble Disc for fidgeting, balance, and core muscle strength
come in many shapes and sizes. There are seat cushions that help with attention and fidgeting while seated, balance boards
for vestibular input, and therapy balls
that can provide proprioceptive input. All of these tools are capable of helping kids with sensory needs. A balance disc or wedge provides feedback to a child’s body, allowing them to get their “wiggles” out. They are challenged to make minute corrections to their core body to compensate for movements of the unstable surface. This is a great way to work on balance and core muscle strength deficits that are often seen in children with sensory needs.
Ice balance wobble disc
This was a cold weather activity, although it could be a big hit in the hot summer weather. You could also re-create the experience in a bathtub or baby pool brought into the indoors. Freeze a disk of water in a large plastic bowl. You want the frozen ice cube to be large enough for your child to sit on and thick enough that it doesn’t break when your child sits and stands on it. A large plastic popcorn bowl works well for creating an ice disk. Simply fill the bottom with water and place into the freezer (or outside if it’s cold enough!)
When the water has frozen, run warm water over the outside of the bowl to remove the ice. Then, take it outside for sitting on. Place a folded dishtowel on the ice and have your child sit on the flat surface. They can hold onto the edge of the disc with the towel protecting their hands from the cold ice. Your child can balance and spin on a hard surface like a sidewalk. The snowy balance disk makes a great ice sled, too. If you are doing this activity indoors, bring a baby pool into the house and spin and wobble in the pool.
Wobble Disc for Proprioceptive Input
Sitting or standing on an unstable surface like a wobble disc is a great way to provide proprioceptive input. Ask the child to sit on the ice disc and balance themselves as you hold their hands. You can pull the child along a flat surface to provide proprioceptive input through their arms. Then, ask the child to push themselves along using their legs. They can pull their legs forward or push themselves backwards to incorporate difference muscle groups. For a greater challenge, have the child stand on the disk, holding onto your arms for support. This strengthening activity challenges balance while providing proprioception through the arms and upper body.
Wobble Disc for Vestibular Input
Have the child sit on the ice disc as they are pushed along on a flat surface like a porch or driveway. Have another child push the child on their low back to get proprioceptive input to the pushing child. Practice balancing back and forth in a seated position for more vestibular input.
How to incorporate sensory play into playing outside
It’s a fact that kids are spending less time playing outdoors. From after-school schedules to two working parents, to unsafe conditions, to increased digital screen time, to less outdoor recess time…kids just get less natural play in the outdoors. Some therapists have connected the dots between less outdoor play and increased sensory struggles and attention difficulties in learning.
- 90 outdoor sensory diet activities
- 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities
- 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards
- They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.
- Research tells us that outdoor play improves attention and provides an ideal environment for a calm and alert state, perfect for integration of sensory input.
- Outdoor play provides input from all the senses, allows for movement in all planes, and provides a variety of strengthening components including eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle contractions.
- Great tool for parents, teachers, AND therapists!