Outdoor Sensory Activities: Proprioception

outdoor sensory activities proprioception

You may have seen our Backyard Summer Sensory series that covers all things outdoor sensory activities.  Today, I’ve got outdoor sensory focusing o proprioception activities that are designed to get the kids moving with heavy work using items you’ve probably already got right in your backyard. These are easy ways to build sensory breaks into the day, get the kids moving with heavy work. You can see the other posts in the series, including backyard oral sensory activities, outdoor sensory activities for tactile sense, and outdoor oral motor sensory activities (yep, that’s possible to address in outdoor play!)

Proprioception activities for backyard sensory play, these are free and inexpensive sensory activities that provide heavy work right in the backyard.

Outdoor Sensory Activities for PROPRIOCEPTION

Try these outdoor heavy work activities to add input through the core and gross motor muscle groups for regulation and body awareness.

Amazon affiliate links are included below.

  • Hoola Hoop Jump- Place out several hoola hoops (or just one) on the ground.  Create a hopping obstacle course into the hoops. Jump with both feet, one foot, and then the other.  Place the hoops further away for more work. Try making a hopping memory game, much like playing “Simon” in a gross motor way. This activity provides heavy work and input through the lower body as kids jump and hop into hoops.
  • Hose Tug- Use a regular garden hose to incorporate heavy work by pulling the hose across the lawn.  Use the hose to water flowers, bushes, or even to spray at targets drawn with sidewalk chalk.
  • Shovel Carry and Dig- Use a garden shovel in an adult or kids’ size to shovel dirt, rocks, leaves, sticks, or mulch from one area to another.  Try filling a bucket with the different mediums and then carry them to another area of the yard.  Good old fashioned lawn work can do wonders for a proprioceptive input seeking kiddo!
  • Jump Rope Pull and Slide- This activity adds a bit of vestibular input to the heavy work of pulling a jump rope.  Use a piece of cardboard cut from a large box or cereal box to create a flat piece.  Have your child sit on the cardboard and hold onto a jump rope.  Pull them around or down slopes as they hold onto the rope.  You can also try this activity with the child pulling another individual on the cardboard.
  • Hop Scotch
  • Bean Bags
  • Corn Hole
  • Play Leap Frog with friends
  • Jump Rope
  • Fly a kite
  • Climb trees

more backyard sensory ideas for summer?  

The activities in this post are part of our Summer Sensory Activity Guide, where you can find everything you need for a summer of sensory input.  Use the sensory activities described in the booklet as a guide to meet the individual needs of your child.  The activities are not a substitute for therapy.  Rather, they are sensory-based summer activities that are designed to address each sensory system through summer play.  Activities are described to involve the whole family.  Check out the Summer Sensory Activity Guide today!

AND…that guide is actually a bonus item in the Summer OT Bundle. So if you are working with children this summer to improve fine motor skills, handwriting, sensory processing, and other skill areas, check out the Summer OT Bundle:

Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

  • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
  • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

Grab the Summer OT Bundle here.

Proprioception activities for backyard sensory play, these are free and inexpensive sensory activities that provide heavy work right in the backyard.

More proprioception activities that kids will love: 

Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

  • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
  • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

Grab the Summer OT Bundle here.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

How to Help Kids with Sensory Issues with Clothes

Tips for children with clothing sensory issues

Here, we’ll discuss the specific considerations for sensory issues with clothes. You’ll also find intervention strategies to support children with clothing sensitivities. The thing is that sensory processing issues for children can be highly complex and sometimes puzzling to those who do not have these difficulties. We see children that refuse to wear socks or shoes. Or we see children who will not put on pants in the dead of winter. Other kids can’t tolerate the seams of shorts or the fasteners of bras. How do you support individuals with sensory sensitivities? Let’s talk about strategies to address clothing sensitivities.

Sensory issues with clothes

This post addresses and discusses considerations and a few possible solutions for clothing sensitivities to provide insight and areas to investigate in order to provide a child with the best possible sensory experiences with dressing and clothing as possible. The considerations are not all encompassing, but do provide valuable information in pursuit of understanding the possible reasons for clothing sensitivities for a child.

Sensory issues with clothes

Sensory issues with clothes and other sensory challenges can interfere with school, community, and home life for children who struggle with sensory processing on a daily, hourly, or even minute by minute basis. Sensory issues can be random, sporadic and happen one time, but not another despite similarities in circumstances.

A child can also have sensory sensitivities and not be diagnosed with a disorder per se, but even sensitivities have a real impact on daily functioning. Check out these clothing red flags for common sensory issues that come up again and again.

A common sensory issue reported by parents are their child’s clothing sensitivities. This involves more than the child who always wants to wear the same shirt because it has their favorite logo on it or it is their favorite color as this is more about style preference. It’s dealing more with a child who has real issues donning clothing and refuses to wear an article of clothing based on the way it feels causing the child to cry and scream and not be able to proceed with the task of dressing. 

Using certain clothing preferences to address clothing sensitivities include sensory friendly clothing options.

All of us have separate sensory systems that help us register, discriminate, and process sensory input. When there is a clothing sensitivity, this is dealing with the tactile (touch) sense and how the information from that sense is sending information to our brain to process. These may show up as tactile defensiveness in some.

We have fabrics we like as they are cozy and provide us comfort and we have fabrics that are scratchy and prickly causing anxiety and keeping us on edge not allowing us to focus on much of anything else other than getting it off. Some individuals with serious sensory issues register this input as harmful and even dangerous making them want to flee or do anything to get that feeling away from them. An important thing to remember is never force a child to don something that they perceive as painful or harmful. A child’s dramatic responses, such as mentioned above, can make home life chaotic and frustrating.

Stating the obvious, dressing is a necessary part of daily living and clothing is required for a child to engage in school and community life and it helps for clothing to be worn at home even though it is not completely necessary there. With some children who do have intense clothing sensitivities, they find their home is a free place to go without clothes.

If you are a parent, these considerations can help you investigate and pinpoint the possible problem with clothing or dressing for your child. These considerations can give you valuable information to either share with your child’s OT practitioner or to pursue an assessment with an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy practitioners can provide interventions specifically directed for your child and their needs as every child is different and requires a skilled set of eyes with knowledge of your child and their needs to provide the best possible interventions and opportunity for your child’s successful daily life engagement.


Sometimes considering simple clothing anatomy for sensory sensitivities can be a good place to start, but there are other areas of clothing and the tactile (touch) sense that need to be explored a little more directly. We’ll look at both in this post.

Related: Sensory issues that impact fine motor skills can make fastening buttons and zippers a difficulty for many children.

Tips for children with clothing sensory issues

Sensory issues with Pants


Consider: length of shirt sleeves and pant legs. The feeling of pant legs and sleeves can cause aggravation to the child’s extremities. Maybe the sounds of fabric while walking such as when wearing denim or corduroy or even the feeling of the leg fabric rubbing together while walking is enough to irritate.

Consider: elastic waistbands vs. zippered and buttoned pants as they may work better for the child. Elastic can provide more flexibility and comfort for some children. Does the waistband roll down or bunch up or are there hidden adjustable waist band apparatuses? Adjustable apparatuses can be cut out by an adult if necessary.


Consider: if there are tags or buttons sewn into the seam of pants of shorts. A tag at the back of pants can cause irritation. These can be removed by cutting out or purchase tag-free clothing.

Consider: certain textures may be more irritating to the skin or even possibly pulling arm or leg hair. If older, shaving legs can help. If the texture feel is the difficulty, purchase clothing with more soft and natural materials.

Sensory issues with shirts


Consider: The length of shirt sleeves. The feeling of sleeves can cause a tight sensation in the arm pits or around the neck, elbows, or wrists, causing aggravation to the child’s extremities. Clothing can feel too tight in the trunk.

Consider: length of shirt tails as they can be drafty if short, especially when sitting.

Consider: if the clothes are too tight or too loose. Do they sway or shift when they move? Does the fabric bunch up in the arm pits or at the wrists from being too big? Purchase clothing with the fit that is preferred for size and pressure, maybe they like tight vs. loose.

Consider: graphics on shirts and get one-dimensional graphics if necessary therefore no sequins, gems, puffy pieces, etc. are impacting the child.

Consider: if the seams in clothing are large or thick with too much fabric inside the clothing causing discomfort. Check this before you purchase clothing items. Purchase seamless clothing or turn clothing inside out as appropriate.

Consider: the pulling of hair as a shirt is pulled over the head or being too tight of a neck hole causing irritation. Purchase button up shirts vs. overhead shirts.

Consider: some clothes may be more uncomfortable to wear due to the feel of waistbands, cuffs, or collars. Explore if they are too tight, too loose, ribbed or simply hemmed. Maybe a certain type is preferred over another. Purchase no collared clothing or lightly hemmed cuffs vs snug-fitting, ribbed cuffs.

How to help your child with clothing sensory issues

General Sensory Considerations with Clothing

Sensory issues with clothes can look different for every individual. But, there are some common similarities that make helping those with clothing sensitivities more comfortable and functional. Try these general considerations:


Consider: some clothing may be hotter or even colder to wear.

Consider: how clothes fit and adhere to the body when sitting vs. standing. Also, check regarding static cling in different seasons and purchase cling free dryer sheets to help when drying clothes.

Consider: layers of clothing to keep warm rather than wearing a jacket.

Consider: the smell of the clothing. Is the smell of the detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheet too strong for the child to tolerate? Purchase odorless detergent, softener or dryer sheets.

Consider: the color of the article of clothing, if they’ve had a bad experience with a certain color, it could be recalled for every article of clothing that color.

Sensory Socks and Shoes

Issues with wearing socks or shoes is a common concern for those with sensory challenges.

Consider: checking sock seams and the position on the toes. How do the socks fit? Are they a good size, too tight, too loose, too short, or too long? Have the socks stretched and become ill-fitting? Purchase seamless socks or wear them inside out.

Consider: if socks are smooth or have fuzz ball lent on them. Are they nylon or cotton fabric, thick or thin? Purchase socks that do not gather fuzz balls as they are washed.

Consider: if toe nails are scrapping the fabric when donning. Do the shoes “eat” the socks when walking causing them to ball up under the heel? Cut the toe nails and purchase socks that do not get pulled under the heel.

Consider: shoe comfort such as width, size, and how high the backs are. Are the shoes too tight or too loose? Purchase shoes that have an open heel.

Consider:  if the tongue is twisted or shifted. Is there anything inside that could be poking or irritating the foot?  Make sure to put laces through the slots on shoe tongues to keep them straight, if this is part of the shoe design.

Understand that shoes fit and feel different with and without socks and even with thick or thin socks.

Sensory Issues and Underwear

Consider: the seams in the underwear, especially in the crotch. Are the genitals comfortable? Purchase underwear without seams or fewer seams.  

Consider: if they fit too loose or too tight. Maybe they prefer more tightness like boxer briefs or maybe they prefer more looseness like regular briefs. Is the waistband too high, too low, too tight or too loose on the stomach? Is the hip design too high or too low?

Consider: if they bunch up when pants or shorts are donned. Does the underwear ride the groove between the buttocks when walking or moving? Do they harbor hygiene odors?

Consider: if the child has thigh sensitivity and underwear is possibly pulling leg hair such as with boxer briefs.

Sensory Issues and Bras

Sensory issues in teens can show up in different ways than the younger years. Some considerations include the need for a bra. For kids that previously have struggled with tight or scratchy sensations with clothing, wearing a bra can be difficult. Here are some things to consider:

Consider: the fit of the bra. Is it too tight and causing discomfort from the straps, rings/sliders, under band, or underwire as evidenced by skin markings and redness? Purchase bralettes or bras that do not have these features. Maybe an athletic bra would be better.

Consider: if they are sensitive to the feel of the hook closures against the back when leaning on a surface. Do the straps brush the arm as they slide off of the shoulder causing some irritation? Does the fabric feel uncomfortable such as with lace that tends to be scratchy?

Sensory Pajamas

Sleepwear can cause a lot of issues for some children. Pajamas can be tight and compressing, which can benefit other children who prefer and benefit from compression garments. Others, however, can feel too much pressure that impacts sleep. Here are some things to consider about sensory issues and pajamas.

Consider: the fit of sleepwear. Is it too tight, too loose, too hot, too cold, too scratchy, or too silky? Is the texture of the material such as fleece, silk, nylon, cotton, spandex, etc. cause irritation or does the sound of it against the bed sheets cause sensitivity?

Consider: if wearing p.j. bottoms, do the legs of the pants ride up the leg while moving in bed causing bunching and sensitivity? Do the shirt sleeves shift up the arm when sleeping making them uncomfortable causing bunching and creases that rub or mark the skin?

Consider: if buttons cause discomfort when lying on the stomach. Do collars or tags irritate? Do ribbed cuffs or seams cause irritation?


Investigate the fabric and other issues of the bed sheets and covers. Explore the sounds, feel, temperature, fuzz balls on the fabric due to washing, smell of detergent, softener, dryer sheets, static cling, etc.

There are many ways to address these sensory sensitivities. Sometimes any number of the above solutions can help. Allowing a child to shop for their own clothing and make their own choices while acknowledging and respecting their desire and need for certain tolerated textures can help with sensory issues.

But for those with more intense sensitivities the best bet for success is looking at a sensory diet tailored to their direct needs. If you are a parent, contact an occupational therapist for assistance. They are available to assess, treat, and consult regarding your child’s specific sensory needs. Often times, sensory sensitivities can be significantly reduced or even completely eliminated with proper treatment.

In the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, we cover various options to address sensory issues in children and teens. You’ll find in this comprehensive resource, strategies to implement a motivating and meaningful sensory diet that is integrated right into day-to-day activities and tasks in order to create a lifestyle of sensory solutions.

Read more about the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook here.

How to support children with clothing sensitivities

If you are an occupational therapy practitioner, below are some activities or intervention ideas which can help support a child with their tactile sensitivities. Be sure to go through the considerations listed above to investigate where clothing sensitivities are stemming from in regards to specific clothing. This step can help with finding clothing styles and types that meet the needs of the individual child.

1. Explore a variety of fabrics on the skin by using fabric swatches – increase time as tolerated.

2. Desensitize skin with lotion rubbing prior to donning clothing.

3. Use whole body deep pressure activities.

4. Present a variety of textured materials by dressing a doll with various textured clothes.

5. Consider using an OT brushing or pressure protocol.

6. Massage with a towel vigorously prior to introducing new textures.

7. Rub feet with lotion or towel prior to donning socks or shoes.

8. Provide textured material exploration with sensory bins

9. Provide textured floor mats for feet.

10. Explore textures using stuffed animals of different textures.

11. Suggest tight-fitting swim or biking shirt or shorts, spandex clothing or workout attire under clothes.

12. Use vibration to the extremities and back/neck as tolerated even allowing child to do this – sometimes the child will choose to do this themselves.

13. Use firm pressure activities such as rolling a therapy ball up and down the body (avoid the face).

14. Use a squeeze machine or body sock.

15. Roll child up in a bedsheet (not the face) like a taco.

16. Use firm pressure to the top of the head or up and down the arms/legs.

17. Give hugs.

18. Rub lotion on body prior to dressing as dry skin can be more easily irritated than moist skin.

19. Use a compression shirt.         

20. Create a tailored sensory diet. You’ll find more information on how to create a sensory diet here.

Sensory lifestyle handbook- How to create a sensory diet

Utilize the motivating strategies in the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook to integrate a sensory diet right into the daily life activities of each child, in a way that works for the whole family.

Click here to grab your copy of the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

Regina Allen

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

Virtual Sensory Room

Virtual sensory room

This virtual sensory room has been on my “to-do” list for a while. It’s a free slide deck that adds all the benefits of a calming sensory space in an online version. You can use this free virtual calming room as a sensory tool in teletherapy sessions, in the home, and in face-to-face classroom or therapy sessions. Let’s take a look at this virtual sensory room space and all of the calming tools it includes.

Virtual sensory room that is a virtual calming room space for kids in teletherapy or face to face therapy, classroom, or home.

Virtual Sensory Room

Adding sensory diet tools to an online platform isn’t always an easy concept. Especially in a virtual space, the calming benefits of a sensory room can be difficult to integrate the senses of proprioception, vestibular input, and oral motor sensory input.

Many of the free online sensory videos out there are mindfulness videos, virtual lava lamps, and auditory videos like waves or rainforest sounds. But the virtual sensory spaces sometimes omit calming heavy work input and proprioceptive feedback that offer the calming and self-regulatory benefits of heavy work.

That’s why I wanted to create this virtual calming room.

Virtual sensory room for kids

Virtual Calming Room

In this virtual calming room, you’ll find the following sensory items that kids can click on and access videos:

  • Fidget Spinner
  • Water bottle
  • Hoberman breathing sphere
  • Sensory jar
  • Plasma globe
  • Kaledescope
  • Rubic cube
  • Bubble wands
  • Lava lamp
  • Slime
  • Calming sounds headphones
  • Koosh Ball
  • Glitter jars
  • Fish tank visual
  • Online relaxing coloring activities
  • Sound machine
  • Yoga mat
  • Kinetic Sand Bin
  • Bubble wrap popping activity
  • Heavy work exercises
  • Light tube
  • Nature grounding exercises
  • Waterbeads sensory bin
  • Brain breaks
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Sequin pillow
  • Light tube
  • Kids crafts

When you click on the sensory objects in the sensory room, you’ll be directed to different online sensory tools. These include:

  • Guided meditation videos
  • Slime videos
  • Yoga exercises
  • Calming sounds videos
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Craft ideas to involve the hands in fine motor resistive work
  • Grounding exercises
  • Calming visual images
  • Relaxing vision and auditory input
  • Brain breaks
  • Calming videos

All of these are links to videos, exercises, and resources to promote calming self-regulatory input for kids of all ages. You can add these tools to a sensory diet or use them in Zones of Regulation activities.

Free sensory room slide deck

Want to add this online sensory room to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below and you can add this tool to your Google drive. It’s just one of the many free slides available here on The OT Toolbox.

NOTE- Due to an increase in security measures, many readers utilizing a work or school district email address have had difficulty accessing resources from the delivery email. Consider using a personal email address and forwarding the email to your work account.

Free Virtual Sensory Room!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Add heavy work with these heavy work exercises to incorporate many themes into therapy and play.

    heavy work cards for regulation, attention, and themed brain breaks

    Click here to grab these heavy work cards.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Free Heavy Work Activities Cards

    Heavy work activity cards Spring themed gross motor tasks

    Today’s free resource in the Spring Week tools are these free Heavy Work activities in printable card version, with a Spring theme! These are just the thing to get kids moving and adding much-needed gross motor movement into the classroom, home, or occupational therapy session. I modeled these printable exercise cards off our heavy work teletherapy activities freebie, so these are the perfect addition to your therapy toolbox.

    Heavy work activities with a Spring theme to add gross motor exercise and brain breaks as well as sensory processing input.

    Heavy Work Activities

    Heavy work activities help kids to incorporate balance, endurance, and motor planning into functional activities. By integrating the proprioceptive sense and vestibular sense, or balance, equilibrium, position in space, and movement, kids are able to better move their body with awareness of how their body moves. This body awareness is needed for most every activity.

    Adding resistance, or heavy work activates the muscles and joints in the body and “wakes them up”. Proprioception and calming vestibular work can have an organizing effect on kids. This enables a ready state for completing tasks.

    Getting kids to incorporate the whole-body movements that they need to regulate and develop strong, healthy bodies isn’t always easier, now more than ever. That’s where the Spring Gross Motor activities come into play. These are whole body activity, Spring-themed activities that make fun brain breaks.

    Functional Heavy Work

    Many heavy work activities can be incorporated right into the daily tasks. Things like pushing a vacuum, moving furniture, carrying a laundry basket are day-to-day chores that add a ton of heavy work input.

    Other heavy work tasks can integrate these senses as well.

    Tasks like using a moldable eraser, coloring with crayons vs. markers, or pulling on socks offer heavy work just as well, on a smaller scale.

    These are all strategies that play into a sensory lifestyle, or a sensory diet that is well ingrained into the day-to-day tasks. You can learn more about creating a sensory lifestyle into every day activities in my book, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

    Heavy Work and Gross Motor Skills

    There’s more about heavy work than just sensory processing benefits.

    Heavy work tasks improve balance, core strength, motor planning, equilibrium needed for movement changes, stability, coordination, and movement patterns. All of these skills require equilibrium of the vestibular system for movement and changes in planes. They also require position in space changes. Heavy work has so many benefits!

    There’s more: Heavy work input also incorporates areas such as range of motion, flexibility, motor planning, crossing midline, muscle tone, and core stability.

    Free Heavy Work Activity Cards

    Would you like to get your hands on a set of free heavy work printable activities? This is a free resource that you can print off and use in therapy sessions, in home programs, as classroom brain breaks, and to just get those kids moving.

    To grab this free resource, enter your email address into the form below.

    FREE Spring Heavy Work Cards

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      More heavy work brain breaks and Spring activities

      You can find more Spring brain breaks and heavy work activities in the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Pack. Right now, it’s a BONUS add-on to our newly released Spring Fine Motor Kit!

      Spring Fine Motor Kit

      Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

      Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

      Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
      • Lacing cards
      • Sensory bin cards
      • Hole punch activities
      • Pencil control worksheets
      • Play dough mats
      • Write the Room cards
      • Modified paper
      • Sticker activities
      • MUCH MORE

      Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

      Spring Fine Motor Kit
      Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

      Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Sensory Nature Walk for the Family

      Nature walk activities for sensory nature experiences for the whole family

      There are so many benefits to getting the whole family out for a family nature walk. Besides the physical exercise and family time, nature walks are powerful tools to incorporate all of the senses without any sensory equipment. Research tells us outdoor sensory play has many benefits. Use the sensory activities described here to learn and explore all of the senses (including the proprioceptive, vestibular, and interoceptive senses!) and add these sensory nature walk ideas to an outdoor sensory diet to help kids achieve an optimal sensory state so they can complete functional tasks and daily occupations.

      Nature walk ideas for sensory based family walks.

      Nature Walk Sensory Benefits

      A nature walk and all of its colors, sights, and sounds make for a multi-sensory experience that can be easily shared as a family.  There are so many sensory benefits when going on a nature walk or simply just by getting outdoors. The sensory input, learning and development, and simple family connection are just a few long-term benefits that can be provided by hiking in the woods.

      Nature walks promote wellness by meeting many different needs:

      • Physical exercise and physical activity
      • Relaxation
      • Establishment of healthy habits in kids
      • Emotional management
      • Mindfulness
      • Facilitate engagement and an alert state of regulation
      • Learning and cognitive benefits
      • Play and activity
      • Social interaction
      • Rest and sleep
      Sensory nature walk for families to explore the senses and support sensory needs.

      Sensory Nature Walk

      Stimulating the senses can help a child reconnect with their inner self, helping them identify how their body calms and relates to a free-flowing natural environment. Parents can help facilitate a child’s interaction in nature and the outdoors by simply being aware of a few activities that can be enjoyed as a family while experiencing the outdoors. Every sense can be utilized and engaged with a few fun ideas.

      To help get you started, take look at the sensory components of a nature walk:

      Nature Walks and the Visual Sense

      The visual (sight) sense can be stirred by the abundance of colors with the trees and leaves and don’t forget to take some time to seek out a few outdoor critters or insects which can add a little element of fun while observing.

      Try these visual processing activities during a family nature walk:

      • Play a game of I-Spy during your outdoor adventure. Think about playing using colors or items found in the environment. Take turns, and work on building vocabulary while playing this game.
      • Do a scavenger hunt and look for certain things found in the woods (you can find printable nature scavenger hunts on the internet).
      • Complete some nature rubbings with paper and crayons. Maybe rub some leaves within a notebook or complete rubbings of different types of tree bark.
      • Take a notebook and write down items you see in nature. It can be a nature journal that adds an opportunity to work on handwriting.

      Auditory Processing and Sensory Walks

      The auditory (hearing) sense can be jostled by the crunching of leaves under the feet as well as the snapping of twigs that can be heard while walking along a path or in the woods.

      • Snap twigs and listed to the cracks. Maybe even taking some time to build a few fun critter forts allowing for snapping of twigs to measure and build.
      • Also, try snapping twigs and building letters to add a little handwriting into the nature walk.
      • Listen for the birds and their chirping of songs and listen for some rustling of leaves when squirrels and other critters move about the woods.
      • Maybe the breeze is blowing, is it causing the trees and leaves to sway back and forth? Close your eyes and simply just listen to hear (it adds another fun element).

      Gustatory Sense and Family Walks

      The gustatory (taste) sense can be provided a little nudge, with adult supervision of course, if you find some wild blackberries or strawberries. They can be yummy to eat, but they do require cleaning so you may want to wait until you get back home to eat them so they can be properly cleaned for complete safety. If you are not that adventurous though, that’s okay you can still stimulate the gustatory sense on your walk if you work to prepare a fun trail mix before you leave the house so you can eat it on your outdoor adventure.

      • Bring a cold drink- A water bottle can be added to a backpack and brought along for a cold drink during a family walk. Remember the proprioceptive and oral motor benefits to drinking through a sports bottle, or a straw in a water bottle with a straw lid.
      • Nature walk snacks-Don’t have time to make trail mix, that’s okay too, you can just grab some granola or granola bars or maybe even some veggie sticks or beef jerky!

      Tactile Sensory Nature Walk

      The tactile (touch) sense can be heavily engaged with all of the different textures that can be explored and possibly gathered on your nature walk. Try some of these strategies on your nature walk:

      • Take some time to feel the leaves, moss, tree bark, rocks, dirt, and even a few fuzzy critters that can be given a little lift to their next destination.  
      • Tossing rocks into small streams or even walking through puddles of water could provide a multi-sensory experience.
      • Write a few letters in the dirt with use of broken twigs as a pencil.
      • Take some time to feel the warmth of the sun or the breeze on your face as you walk.  
      • Be sure to collect some nature items along the way though so you can explore them later either in a sensory bin or in an art project.
      • Find and count nature items in an egg carton.
      • Play toss and catch with pine cones as appropriate. Toss and catch to each other or have kiddos toss to themselves including back and forth between their left and right hands.
      • Stick nature items to contact paper while on a nature walk.

      Olfactory sense and family sensory walks

      The olfactory (smell) sense can be triggered by taking time to smell the dried leaves, flower scents, and even the smells that get blown as the wind or breeze lifts them through the air. Let’s face it, the wilderness has many smells that are unidentified and when mixed together create scents that are unusual kind of, musty. Even decaying wood has a very unique smell. Try these olfactory activities:

      • Smell flowers
      • Close your eyes and smell the air. Can you identify any scents?
      • Talk about scent words and the meaning of those terms. Some concepts to explore are: fresh, musty, moldy, sweet, sour, dry, etc.

      Proprioception and Nature Walks

      The proprioceptive (muscles and joints) sense can be impacted if you allow the child to lift heavy rocks, larger limbs and even just jump from higher elevations such as large rocks. All of the walking, climbing, and exploring adds heavy work input that tells the body where it is in space so the legs and body as a whole can move. Heavy work is a calming and regulating source of getting to a calm and alert state. Consider these opportunities for adding proprioceptive input on a nature walk:

      • Allow them to climb some trees and hillsides.
      • Explore trails with variations on elevation.
      • Consider the walking surface. Walking through a field, even trail, flat trail, or wooded hiking trail, or paved sidewalk offer different variants of heavy work though the legs and core.
      • Add hopping, jumping, bending, leaping, galloping, or skipping as you walk.
      • Even just the act of walking up and down the trail inclines can provide muscle and joint input that can be regulating for some kiddos.
      • Carrying water bottles in a backpack is an additional opportunity for heavy work.

      Nature walks and the Vestibular sense

      The vestibular (movement) sense can be activated as a child moves their body around the trees and rocks even while crawling up large rocks and trees. Incorporate vestibular input through these ideas:

      • Have them try some simple spinning with their eyes open and closed and arms outstretched to get a unique view of the outdoors maybe even doing some somersaults or cartwheels.
      • Allow them to try out their balance skills as they walk across a downed tree or along a trail of rocks.
      • Climb trees.
      • Run up hills.
      • Roll down grassy hills.

      Nature walks and interoception

      The interoception (inner body awareness) sense can be explored by the act of simply disconnecting from technology and other distractions and identifying how the body feels during this change of setting and heavy multi-sensory environment. An additional benefit of family walks is the connection to sleep (described more in detail at the bottom of this post.) Sleep has been noted to be included in the interoceptive processes much like hunger or thirst, as a brain process similar to other homeostatic processes.

      Incorporate interoception in nature with these strategies:

      • Work on identifying their feelings and bodily responses to the sensory input such as noticing their breathing, heart rate, temperature, or possibly if they feel either tired, hungry, or thirsty.
      • How do you feel? A walk can change how you’re feeling. Maybe you feel re-energized and more alert. Talk about it.
      • Mindfulness is impacted by nature. Take deep breaths. Can you feel your heart rate slowing down?
      • Thirst inventory- How do you feel after a hike in nature? Thirsty? Dry mouth? These are signs that your body is thirsty. Some people struggle with this internal awareness. Talk about the signs of thirst and how the body reacts to this need and then afterwards once you’ve got a drink.
      Nature walk activities for families to incorporate sensory systems.

      Nature Walk Activities

      A nature walk is a fun time to collect items from nature for exploring. While out on family walk, collect items from nature such as rocks, pebbles, sticks, leaves, moss, etc. These items can be placed into a backpack or bag and brought home to explore and create. (Be sure to return items to nature, afterwards as long as they are free from paint or glue.)

      After you’ve finished your outdoor adventure and you’ve collected some fun nature goodies from your walk, take those items home and create a sensory bin, fine motor craft kit, or maybe even use them in a fun art project. What can you collect?

      Look for some of these items (and explore the visual sense as you seek and find items):

      • Acorns
      • Twigs
      • Leaves
      • Rocks
      • Feathers
      • Pine needles
      • Pine cones
      • Moss
      • Seeds
      • Grasses
      • Sand
      • Dirt
      • Sunflower seeds
      • Fallen tree bark

      Nature Walk Sensory Bins

      Use these materials to make a sensory bin. Add the items you’ve collected to a large bin, basket, or tray. Now it’s time to explore! Try these nature sensory bin ideas:

      Nature Walk Art Projects

      The nature items collected on a family walk can be used to make art, too. Incorporate some added art supplies to get started:

      • Paint
      • Paint brush
      • Playdough
      • Beans/Peas
      • Glue
      • String
      • Paper/paste or cardboard
      • Googly eyes
      • Chenille stems
      • Egg cartons
      • Contact paper

      Then, try these nature art projects that help to develop motor skills, fine motor strength, coordination, motor planning, and more:

      Sensory Nature Walks and Rest

      An added benefit of incorporating a nature walk into the family routine is that walks in turn promote rest. All of the physical activity of nature walks may be helpful in encouraging rest and as a result, sleep.

      Additionally, research suggests a relationship between sleep difficulties and patterns of sensory processing issues in children.

      Studies show that sensory processing differences, considerably including increased sensory sensitivities, sensory-avoiding patterns, sensory-seeking patterns, and poor sensory registration have been associated with changes in sleep quality. (Vasek, M., Williamson, J., Garden, J., Zwicker, J., 2015).

      Occupational therapists play a role in sleep by offering tools and strategies to promote adequate and restful sleep. Because sleep is a necessary component of performing functional tasks and daily occupations, occupational therapists can assist with promoting adequate and healthy sleep by using evidence based methods, once of which can include physical activity such as family nature walks.

      A final note about sensory walks

      Take a seasonal nature walk to simply allow children to explore with their senses while building skills needed for learning and development! Allow children the freedom to explore at their own pace and to be creative. Give them the opportunity to come up with a fun, family activity outdoors. They’ll surprise you!

      Don’t live near a colorful hiking area? Take some time to visit a farm, a pumpkin patch, a flower garden, a cornfield, or even the beach. Really, just get outdoors and explore anywhere! By being outside away from technology and other distractions, children can rejuvenate their bodies and minds while stimulating their senses.

      Try these resources to incorporate the sensory system when in the great outdoors:

      Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities

      Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities in the Backyard

      Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

      Sensory Diet Activities at the Playground

      Sensory Processing at the Playground

      Add the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards to your therapy toolbox:

      Create the “right kind” of sensory experiences to improve regulation, attention, focus, body awareness, motor development, and sensory processing.

      • 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.
      Outdoor sensory diet cards

      References:

      Mark Vasak, James Williamson, Jennifer Garden, Jill G. Zwicker; Sensory Processing and Sleep in Typically Developing Infants and Toddlers. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(4):6904220040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015891

      Regina Allen

      Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

      Mask Social Story Slide Deck

      wear a mask social story for sensory issues

      Here, you can get a mask social story for kids with sensory needs. Trying to help kids with the task of wearing a mask? In our area, schools are moving from full virtual to hybrid learning, so that means kids that have been out of the classroom since March are now going to be back in the physical school location. And, getting kids to wear masks…and keep those masks on…can be a real concern, especially for kids with sensory needs! Today, I’ve got a free teletherapy slide deck to help kids learn the importance of wearing a mask and it covers the sensory concerns that might come up with mask wearing. This slide deck is a social story for mask wearing with sensory issues, so it adds a story component while allowing kids to understand why they need to wear a mask when it feels itchy or scratchy. This slide deck is free, so grab it below.

      Get this free mask social story to help kids with sensory needs tolerate and accommodate for mask wearing.

      Wearing a mask with sensory needs

      For kids with sensory needs, wearing a mask can be a big problem. But some schools, businesses, and situations require a mask for entry. So how does the child with sensory needs deal with this situation? For some, the softest of face masks can feel scratchy or itchy. It can make others feel like they are contained. Still others are frustrated wtih the feel of mask straps behind their ears.

      Kids with sensory needs and masks don’t mix!

      That’s why I wanted to put this social story together and get it into your hands. Because some kids are truly struggling with wearing a mask and don’t understand why they need to have this itchy, scratchy fabric attached to their face!

      Help kids wear a mask when they have sensory preferences due to sensory processing disorder.

      Wearing a Mask Social Story

      Some kids respond really well to social stories, so this slide deck should be a good way to teach this concept. I’ve made the slide deck interactive, so kids can read through the slide, and move the checkmark to the “finished” square once they understand the concept on each slide.

      Kids with sensory needs can struggle with wearing a mask. This mask social story can help if the mask feels too tight.

      The slides cover various aspects of masks for kids with sensory needs, including how masks feel on the skin, or how they may make a person feel hot.

      I’ve also included slides in this social story that tell the reader they can ask for help if they need it when wearing a mask.

      Some children may chew on their face mask to meet oral sensory needs as calming input when they attempt to self-regulate. However, another sensory tool could be used in place of the mask. This sensory social story helps kids to understand that by reading the words of the story and by matching those words to the image.

      Kids with sensory needs can feel a mask as too tight or scratchy. This mask social story can help.

      Kids with sensory needs or those with sensory processing disorder may feel the temperature difference between having a mask on or off. This mask sensory story covers those issues.

      You’ll find slides for kids that feel that mask move in and out with their breath, as well. All of these sensory sensitivities can be very apparent with the use of a face mask!

      use this free mask social story in teletherapy or to help kids with sensory needs adjust to wearing a mask by offering other alternatives that meet their sensory needs.

      Free slide deck for wearing a mask with sensory needs

      To get this slide deck, enter your email address below. By doing this, I am able to deliver the slides to your email inbox.

      Be sure to log into your Google drive first. You will get a pdf that you can save and use over and over again. Click the document to make a copy of the slide onto your drive.

      Use the slide deck in “edit” mode to allow students to move the check marks on each slide as the individual slide is read. You can also use this slide deck in “present” mode, but the movable piece won’t work.

      Get this Free “Wearing a Mask” Social Story slide deck

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        Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        Auditory Sensory Activities the Backyard

        auditory sensory activities for the backyard to add to a sensory diet for kids

        These auditory sensory activities are a variety of backyard sensory play ideas that can be used as tools for addressing auditory sensory processing needs at home. using what you’ve got in (or outside) your house is a great way to work on auditory processing needs with kids. Think about all of the backyard sounds that can be used as therapy tools to help with auditory memory or auditory comprehension. In fact, the backyard is the perfect place to work on sensory needs with kids.

        This blog post is part of my backyard sensory play series. It’s an old post here on The OT Toolbox, but it’s one that I’ve revamped to make into a movement and sensory challenge to help kids be active and building therapy skills at home.

        auditory sensory activities for the backyard to add to a sensory diet for kids
        Auditory processing sensory ideas for backyard summer sensory play, perfect for sensory diet ideas for kids.

        The auditory sensory activities listed here can be used as part of a sensory diet for kids. Some of the ideas are great auditory seeking activities. Others are great for helping to challenge those with hypersensitivity to sound. In either case, the auditory sensory activities can be used as part of a sensory diet for those with needs.

        If you are looking for information on how to create a sensory diet and use these movement activities with kids, then you are in the right place. Here are more outdoor sensory diet activities to get you started with sensory needs and the outdoors.

        auditory sensitivity activities for kids

        Auditory Processing Activities

        Try these auditory processing ideas this summer. Each activity can be modified to make is a challenge for auditory seeking or auditory sensitivities.

        Neighborhood Listening Scavenger Hunt-  Notice the sounds in the neighborhood.  Ask your child to locate or name the origin of the sounds as they walk around the neighborhood.  If the sound is too far away, ask them to name the origin.  During this activity, they need to discriminate between sounds.

        Auditory Hide and Seek-  Play a game of hide and seek with sounds.  They child that is searching for kids can make a call and each hider responds with their own sound.  The person who is looking for others can determine who is making the sounds they hear and locate each child one at a time.

        Listening Tag-  Play a game of tag in the backyard as children race to tag one another.  When the person who is “it” comes near another person, they can tag a person unless the runner sits on the ground and makes a noise.  When the child sits, they are on “base” and safe from being tagged. They can stand up again when the child who is “it” makes the same noise.  

        Noisy Toy Positioning Game- Use a squeaky toy or bike horn in this noisy toy game.  Have one child hide with the toy and make it squeak.  The person who is looking for the toy needs to describe where the toy is hidden by using descriptive words like “over”, “under”, and “left”.

        More auditory Sensory Activities

        • Bell parade
        • Kazoo sound hunt
        • Listening for birds or animals
        • Record backyard sounds and play back the recording. Try to recognize and name the sound and where it was located in the yard.
        • Fill containers with items from the backyard.  Shake plastic containers or even paper bags with the items and see if your child can name the objects.
        • Play Marco Polo in the yard!
        auditory memory activities for kids to do at outdoors at home.

        Looking for more backyard sensory ideas for summer?  

        The Summer Sensory Activity Guide is the place to find everything you need for a summer of sensory input.  Use the sensory activities described in the booklet as a guide to meet the individual needs of your child.  The activities are not a substitute for therapy.  Rather, they are sensory-based summer activities that are designed to address each sensory system through summer play.  Activities are described to involve the whole family.  Right now, the Summer Sensory Activity Guide is a free bonus item to the new Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet.

        The Summer OT Activities Packet is a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

        You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

        Grab the Summer OT Bundle HERE.

        Summer OT Bundle


        For more auditory sensory activities, try these activities for auditory learners.

        Auditory processing sensory ideas for backyard summer sensory play, perfect for sensory diet ideas for kids.

        Sensory Activities in the Backyard

         These are more sensory ideas you can add to an outdoor sensory diet to address sensory seeking needs or sensory avoiding in kids:

        Wobble Ice Disk– Add vestibular input with a DIY wobble disk. Kids can help to make this heavy ice disk, adding proprioceptive input for a hot summer day.

        Use a therapy ball– A large ball or a therapy ball/ exercise ball is a great way to add movement, heavy work, and calming proprioceptive input into backyard play.

        Make a Water Bin– Water play is a great way to spend hot summer days in sensory play.

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        Sensory Swing for Modulation

        Sensory swings are a wonderful tool for improving sensory modulation in kids. Here, we will discuss how and why a sensory swing is used for modulation of sensory needs. Sensory swings are powerful sensory strategy when it comes individuals with sensory processing needs. Let’s discuss how sensory swings can help with sensory processing and modulation.

        This content is part of our week-long therapy giveaway event, where we are collaborating with brands to give you the opportunity to win various therapy items, toys, and games as a thank you for being here and a celebration of our profession and those we serve.

        Use a sensory swing to help kids with sensory needs including sensory modulation

        Sensory Swings for Modulation…

        You’ve seen the issues in classrooms and in homes. There are kiddos struggling with self-regulation and management of sensory processing. We notice the child that gets overwhelmed or stuck on a direction to complete a worksheet. We see a child who breaks down and resolves into a pattern of hitting, biting, kicking, or damaging property. We notice the child that can’t sit upright in their seat to listen to their teacher. We can identify the child who bites on their pencil to the point of nibbling on eraser bits and chunks of wood. We see the actions and we see the results of a real need. Sometimes, we can even predict the events or situations that lead to these behaviors.

        What we don’t see is the internal struggle.

        We miss out on the feeling of overwhelming sensory input. We can’t feel the emptiness or the detached sensation. We miss out on what’s happening inside those beautiful, intelligent, and awesomely created brains and bodies.

        While we can connect the dots from event to behavior, our biggest struggle as advocates, educators, and loved ones is to know the true internal path that connects those dots.

        An occupational therapist analyzes the occupational domains that a child or individual pursues. They determine any difficulties in modulation, discrimination, praxis, motor skills, and other components that impact those occupations. In providing sensory-based interventions, therapists use tools to move their clients to optimal levels of arousal for functioning.

        The sensory swing is one of those ways to help with sensory modulation.

        What is Sensory Modulation

        Sensory modulation information including what is sensory modulation and how to help.

        As discussed in the book, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, sensory modulation is the organization and regulation of sensory input through the central nervous system to enable skills and abilities such as attention, activity levels. This skill is an efficient, automatic, and effortless occurrence in those with typically developing individuals.

        Sensory modulation is defined by Dr. A Jean Ayres as “the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment. The spatial and temporal aspects of inputs from different sensory modalities are interpreted, associated, and unified” (Ayres, p. 11, 1989).

        Problems with sensory modulation result in difficulty responding to and regulating sensory input. A child with sensory modulation disorder might withdrawal as a result of their responses. They may become upset by noises or sounds. They may become overly distracted or obsessed with specific stimuli.

        Sensory Modulation in a Nutshell

        Essentially, sensory modulation is the ability to take in sensory input, sort it, and respond to that input. Modulation results in function, alertness, awareness of self, and awareness of the world around oneself.

        When sensory modulation is stalled, moving slowly, or running on hyper speed, we see disorganized, over-responsive, or under-responsive individuals.

        As a result, children struggle to complete functional tasks, follow directions, learn, manage emotions, interact socially, etc.

        How to Help with Sensory Modulation

        Sensory modulation issues can be improved to impact a child’s arousal state so they can be effective and function in daily living tasks, in school, emotionally, and socially. Some sensory strategies to help with modulation are listed below.

        Use the expertise of an occupational therapist to identify and analyze modulation levels. Identifying strengths and weaknesses can play a part in helping to understand other underlying areas that need addressing and play into sensory modulation concerns. Functioning individuals may require specific levels and intensities of specific sensory input, which can vary across different environments or on a day-to-day basis.

        1. Use sensory activities to add proprioception, vestibular input, or touch input to help with arousal states, and calm or alert levels in order to function in tasks.
        2. Create a sensory diet that allows for sensory use across environments and sensory tools or strategies to address changes in modulation or arousal.
        3. Set up a sensory station to successfully integrate sensory activities into daily lives. Sensory stations can occur in the home, classroom, or on-the-go.

        A sensory swing can be used to impact sensory modulation in all of these strategies.

        Harkla sensory swing for therapy and sensory modulation

        Use a sensory swing for Modulation

        A sensory swing can be a calming place to regroup and cope. It can be a safe space for a child to gain calming vestibular input through slow and predictable motions.

        A sensory swing can be a source of intense vestibular input as a means to challenge arousal levels.

        A sensory swing can use a firm pillow base to provide proprioceptive feedback and heavy input while addressing tactile defensiveness.

        A sensory swing can be a means for combining calming or alerting motions with coordinated movement strategies to impact praxis, postural control, and perception.

        A sensory swing can be used with others as a tool for building social skills and emotional regulation.

        A sensory swing can be used as an outlet for meltdowns before they turn into biting, kicking, hitting, or yelling.

        A sensory swing can be a transition tool to provide calming vestibular input before physical actions and executive functioning concepts needed for tasks such as completing homework, or getting ready for bed.

        Use a therapy swing to help kids with sensory processing

        INDOOR Sensory Swing

        Want to address modulation and impact sensory processing needs in the home, classroom, or therapy room? we’ve talked about how sensory swings impact sensory processing and the ability to regulate sensory input. Let’s take things up a notch by getting a therapy swing into your hands.

        One sensory swing that I’ve got in my house is the Harkla sensory swing. We’ve used this exact swing as an outdoor sensory swing, but it’s a powerful tool when used as an indoor swing. Today, you have the chance to win one of your own. Using a Harkla swing as an indoor swing provides opportunities for modulation in various environments and as a tool to regulate emotions, behaviors.

        Over or under inflate to provide more or less base of support and a challenge in postural control. Additionally, this swing holds up to 150 pounds, making it an option to address sensory modulation for adults.

        Use the cocoon swing to create a relaxation space or sensory station right in the home or classroom. With the easy-to-install swing, a sensory diet space can come alive using the Harkla Therapy Swing!

        Occupational therapists use pod swings to address sensory modulation, attention needs, regulation, or sensory processing disorder. The cocoon swing we’re giving away below provides a hug-like effect to address sensory needs or as a fun space to hang out in in the classroom or home. A few more details about this indoor swing option:

        • Comes with all the hardware for an easy setup, including a pump, adjustable strap, 4 bolts, carabiner, and a ceiling hook
        • Holds up to 150lbs for a safe place for your child
        • Includes an adjustable strap to make it easy to safely hang your sensory swings indoors from any height
        • Comes with easy-to-follow directions so anyone can hang it up
        • Free shipping & a lifetime guarantee

        Harkla Sensory Swing Giveaway

        This giveaway, sponsored by Harkla, has now ended.

        TOns of Sensory Modulation Ideas

        Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

        Bilateral Coordination TOY GIVEAWAY

        Want to win a top-rated occupational therapy bilateral coordination toy? One winner will receive a set of pop tubes! And, 5 winners will win a pack of resources from The OT Toolbox shop! Use this toy to create tons of movement challenges to develop gross motor skills.

        HOW TO ENTER

        Type your email address into the form below and hit the button. You will be entered to win! Want additional entries? Share our post on Instagram and tag a friend!

        Bilateral Coordination Toy Giveaway

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          **Entry begins on the date listed. Giveaway ends 12-8-21. Winners will be notified via email.

          1. Fine Motor Toys begins 11-26
          2. Gross Motor Toys begins 11-27
          3. Pencil Grasp Toys begins 11-28
          4. Toys for Reluctant Writers begins 11-29
          5. Toys for Spatial Awareness begins 11-30
          6. Toys for Visual Tracking begins 12-1
          7. Toys for Sensory Play begins 12-2
          8. Bilateral Coordination Toys begins 12-3
          9. Games for Executive Functioning Skills begins 12-4
          10. Toys and Tools to Improve Visual Perception begins 12-5
          11. Toys to Help with Scissors Skills begins 12-6
          12. Toys for Attention and Focus begins 12-7

          Ayres, A.J. (1 989). Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests. Los Angeles, Western Psychological Services.