Oral Motor Exercises with a Cotton Ball Bunny

bunny craft

Working on oral motor exercises as a sensory processing strategy for self-regulation, or as an oral motor tool to address physical needs? Ok, so we made a cute little cotton ball bunny to use in an Easter sensory activity as a small world play area to work on fine motor skills with an Easter theme. However, using them in imagination play, but, there are so many oral motor benefits to using these little cotton ball bunnies, too.

It was so much fun with that little cotton ball bunny family that we turned it into a big old collection of bunnies! That’s not all…we used them in an oral motor exercise, with major self-regulation benefits. Here is a how to for this Easter craft for kids as well as a run-down on oral motor skill work with everyday items.

One thing I love about this is that we were blowing cotton balls with straws as a calming and regulating activity, but it was a lot of fun, too!

You’ll also want to check out our other Bunny Activities:

oral motor exercises with an easter theme using a cotton ball bunny craft

Oral Motor Exercises with an Easter Theme

Oral motor skills play a big part of feeding. In fact oral motor problems and feeding can impact food preferences as well as ability to eat certain food textures. There is a lot of information on oral motor skills on The OT Toolbox.

We’ve covered development of oral motor skills to the physical traits you may see with oral motor issues such as exaggerated jaw movements and issues that arise with stability bite patterns. Here is more information if you are wondering if feeding issues are related to oral motor skills or sensory concerns…or both.

Adding sensory work through the mouth in the form of proprioception is a powerful way to help kids recenter and gain input that is calming and regulating. That input “wakes up” the muscles of the mouth.

There is a mindfulness portion to this oral motor strategy, too. Taking deep breaths is so important in relaxation it brings awareness to your body. In this Easter oral motor activity, kids can blow through a straw to move the cotton ball bunnies while focusing on a static viewpoint at the end of the straw.

Did you know that blowing cotton balls with straws can do all of this??

Talk about centering and regulating! You can even ask the child to breathe in while you count to 5 and then breath out as they move the bunny with the power of their breath.

This oral motor exercise uses straws and cotton ball bunnies for an Easter themed

Oral Motor Exercises for Heavy work

To do this self regulation activity, it’s actually pretty simple.

  1. Line up a row of cotton ball bunnies on the table.
  2. Give the child a straw and ask them to blow into the straw to push the bunny toward a target.
  3. You can ask them to move a certain number of bunnies in a specific amount of time, or they can simply move all of the bunny family with their breath.
bunny craft

Oral Motor Exercise

I wanted to try a little Easter-themed game with Big Sister.  (She didn’t know that it was actually an oral motor exercise that supports development!)

I put the cotton ball bunnies out on the table, along with the grass and some straws.    She had to blow the bunnies into the grass using a straw. 

Scroll below for instructions on how to make the DIY grass matt to use in sensory play activities.

To make the oral motor exercise easier or harder:

  1. Try using different lengths of straws to change the breath power and amount of deep breathing they need to take.
  2. You can also pinch the straw to require more effort in the oral motor therapy idea.
  3. Try using different types of straws, too. Some ideas include using a large sports straw like we did in the pictures here, or a coffee stirrer straw.

The options are endless and can be means of grading this activity up or down to meet the specific needs of the child.

This is a fun exercise/game for kids with oral-motor problems including poor lip closure, stability of the jaw, or muscle development of the mouth, jaw, and tongue.  Blowing through a straw can also help with sensorimotor integration. 

Older kids who constantly put things into their mouth (pencils, clothing, fingers…) may be seeking oral input/sensorimotor input that their body needs.   

This game is a fun way to work on any of these areas.  Use fatter straws at first and work toward thinner straws for a graded exercise.  If this activity to too difficult for your child with oral-motor or sensorimotor needs, try a smaller item such as a feather or a crafting fuzz ball.  

You could also work on oral motor skills and the proprioceptive heavy work with this Egg Boat activity.

Oral motor exercises like these are beneficial to add heavy work input through the mouth and lips that is calming and regulating.

These oral motor exercises have an Easter theme anc can work on oral sensory needs for self-regulation or oral motor therapy.
Make this Easter fine motor activity using a cotton ball bunny craft. Kids will love to use this in an Easter play activity with preschoolers and toddlers

Fine Motor Skills Activity

These little Easter bunny crafts were perfect to in a fine motor skills activity, too. With a tray, a handful of river rocks, and a DIY crepe paper matt, we made an Easter-themed small world to work on fine motor skills with my littlest one.

My daughter, who was a toddler in these photos, loved to explore and play as she picked up and moved the cotton ball bunnies, the rocks, and small carrots.

Easter play ideas using a DIY sensory mat and cotton ball bunny crafts for kids to use in fine motor work.

To make the grass matt, we used a roll of green crepe paper. It was glued on one side to a sheet of construction paper. I asked my preschooler to snip into the edges of the top side of the crepe paper, so it made a fringed edge. This was a great scissor activity for her.

This Easter play activity turned out to be a fun fine motor activity for toddlers and a fine motor ideas for preschoolers, too! I think the quote from my preschooler was… “Wow, this is cool, Mom!”

This cotton ball bunny craft is so much fun for fine motor skill activities and oral motor skills work.

Easter Play IDEA

Play idea for toddlers- Baby Girl especially loved playing with the little bunnies in an Easter small world play set-up.  She would move the bunnies, stones, and carrots one at a time from the bowl to the grass…and then back again.

Play idea for preschoolers- Big Sister had fun using the bunnies for imagination play, making them go into their garden, lining up the rocks, and making the bunnies steal the carrots.  

Little Guy wanted nothing to do with any of this. I guess there were not any superheroes or bad guys involved.  Cute little bunnies are not his thing 🙂  

This Easter play idea is great for workingon fine motor skills with toddlers and preschoolers.

We are having a lot of fun with our little bunnies!

Make this cotton ball bunny craft to use in easter themed sensory play and fine motor skills activities

TO make the Cotton Ball Bunny Craft

Making this Easter bunny craft is super easy.

  1. We used a glue gun to make sure the pieces were securely attached for sensory play with my toddler. However, regular craft glue would work as well.
  2. You’ll need a cotton ball, white foam sheet, and a pink felt sheet.
  3. Cut out two large white ears and two smaller pieces for the inner ear.
  4. Use the craft glue to hold these pieces in place.
  5. Add gentle pressure to make sure all of the pieces are securely attached.

This bunny craft came together fairly quickly, so I was able to create a whole set of the bunnies.

Then, use them to play!

This Easter craft idea is great for fine motor activities for preschoolers and toddlers with an Easter theme.

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

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 has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Easter Activities

It’s that time again!  Easter is around the corner and so you may be searching for a few Easter activities. These spring activities are ones that have a movement and play component so that kids build skills they need while celebrating the season. Below, you’ll find Easter ideas, Easter crafts, egg activities, songs, and bunny games are all themed on Easters, eggs, and bunnies. Things like our Easter scissor skills activity are just part of the fun. So if you’re planning a few fun activities for the kids this Easter, look no further.  We have got you covered on the bunny cuteness overload!

Easter Activities for Occupational Therapy

Sensory Input- Add sensory input for a functional sensory diet or self regulation needs using these sensory egg dying activities.

Scissor Skills– Use fake Easter grass to work on scissor skills.

Visual Perception/Fine Motor– Work on visual discrimination, bilateral coordination, and hand strength with this color matching egg hunt.

Oral Motor Skills/Proprioception– Build oral motor skills and add calming proprioceptive input through the mouth with this bunny race activity.

Oral Motor Skills/Fine Motor– Use plastic eggs to make boats that really float and are powered by breath, a great calming self-regulation activity. It’s a fun fine motor STEM activity, too.

Intrinsic Hand Strength– After dying eggs, use the extra egg cartons to build in-hand manipulation and precision in dexterity with this fine motor activity.

Open Thumb Web-Space/Eye-Hand Coordination– Build motor skills in the hands using egg dying tongs to sort and manipulate small objects.

Fine Motor Skills– Use pipe cleaners to make mini-bunnies and mini-carrots for fine motor manipulatives.

Shoe Tying– Or, use that egg carton to work on shoe tying.

Pre-Writing Lines– Grab some wikki stix and work on pre-writing lines and handwriting with an egg theme.

Easter activities, crafts, and games that build skills for occupational therapy sessions and goal areas.

Easter Crafts

These Easter craft ideas use everyday materials, so you can easily set these up for your therapy sessions.

Make bunnies and carrots from pipe cleaners for an Easter occupational therapy tool.

Make a set of these pipe cleaner Bunny and Carrots to use in fine motor activities, play, counting, and imagination play. 

Easter fine motor manipulative to help with fine motor skills in kids.

Try these cotton ball bunny craft manipulatives to use in play, fine motor activities and imagination play.

RELATED READ: Simple Spring Sensory

Easter Bunny Activities for Kids

This 5 Little Bunnies Finger Rhyme from Let’s Play Music is a great way to work on finger dexterity and coordination.

Bunny lacing activity to build fine motor skills

Easter Lacing Cards from Totschooling helps with bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, and more. Here is more information on the benefits of lacing cards for kids

Easter activity with plastic easter eggs

Plastic Egg craft- Use plastic Easter eggs to make boats with a sensory benefit. It’s a calming sensory activity that kids will love.

Grab a handful of Easter eggs and use them to work on color identification in a color scavenger hunt.

Easter writing activity to help kids wrok on pre-writing lines and pencil control with an Easter egg theme.

Use this Easter egg writing activity to help kids work on pre-writing lines and pencil control, as well as coordination and visual motor skills.

Gross motor easter activity

Try this Bunny Hop ABC Game from Fantastic, Fun, and Learning to add gross motor skills, motor planning, and coordination skills in outdoor play.

Easter activity with coloring pages and dot to dot pages

Try these Bunny Coloring Pages from Kids Activities Blog for visual perception, visual motor skills, pencil control, and more.

Use this bunny activity to work on bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Grab a pair of Bunny Tongs from the dollar store for a fine motor Easter activity that builds scissor skills and eye-hand coordination. 

Bunny craft for kids at Easter time, using toilet paper tubes to make an Easter craft while building fine motor skills.

Make Toilet Paper Roll Bunnies like this Easter craft from Toddling in the Fast Lane for a fine motor workout with cute results.

Easy Easter Activities

Busy occupational therapy practitioners know that time is limited. So coming up with a few therapy activities that work with the whole caseload is key.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Egg Decorating: Using stickers to decorate plastic Easter eggs. This activity supports fine motor precision, bilateral coordination, and hand-eye coordination.
  • Egg Transferring: Use spoons to transfer small eggs from one basket to another. This activity works on visual motor skills and grasp precision. This is a nice activity if helping kids to hold a spoon and fork when eating.
  • Easter Egg Cutting: Draw a simple oval on paper and ask kids to cut out the shape. This activity focuses on scissor manipulation and hand-eye coordination.
  • Paper Easter Baskets: Children can cut out and assemble paper baskets by weaving strips of paper.
  • Egg Hunt Obstacle Course: This one is one of my favorites! Hide plastic Easter eggs in different places in an occupational therapy obstacle course. You can really focus on different gross motor skills as kids move through the course and collect eggs. Then, ask them to go back through the course and re-hide the eggs to work on memory skills.
  • Matching Games: Use the egg matching cards in the Easter Egg Therapy Kit and have your students connect two sides of plastic eggs to match the colors on the cards. The kit has pre-colored cards or you can use the blank template to have kids color their own color mix ups.
  • Easter Sensory Bins: Fill sensory bins with items like Easter grass, plastic eggs, and small toys, allowing children to explore different textures and sensations.
  • Egg Shakers: Fill plastic eggs with dry beans or beads and tape the eggs shut. Children can create their own egg shakers using plastic eggs filled with various materials like rice or beans, which provides auditory and tactile feedback.
  • Planning an Easter Craft: Encourage children to plan and execute an Easter craft, which can help develop their organization, sequencing, and problem-solving skills.
  • Easter Cooking Activities: Following a cooking with kids recipe to make Easter-themed snacks can enhance planning, sequencing, and task initiation.
  • Easter-Themed Yoga: Incorporate yoga poses inspired by Easter themes (like bunny hops or egg stretches) to help children practice self-regulation and body awareness. We have activities like this in The OT Toolbox Membership.

One resource we love is our $5 therapy kit…the Plastic Egg Therapy Kit! It has 27 printable pages of activities with an Easter egg theme. In the kit, you’ll find fine motor activities, handwriting prompts, letter formation pages, pencil control sheets, plastic egg activities, matching cards, graphing activities, STEM fine motor task cards, and more. There are several pages of differentiated lines to meet a variety of needs. This therapy kit has everything done for you.

Get your copy of the Easter Egg Therapy Kit here.

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

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 has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Coping Strategies for Kids

coping strategies

Whether it’s the classroom, home, or day to day life…coping strategies for kids are needed. Coping strategies are mechanisms or tools to adjust and respond to emotions, stressors, and unbalance so that one can function and complete daily occupations, or everyday tasks. Coping tools help to balance and regulate a person. Coping strategies can look different for every individual and that’s why this giant list of coping skills will be powerful in building a toolbox of strategies for kids (or teens and adults!)

Coping strategies like the ones listed here can be used in conjunction with an emotions check in and feelings check in to support self awareness and self regulation skills.

the strategies that we’ve shared here are great for adding to a budget sensory room in the school environment, or a calm down corner at home.

Coping strategies

What are Coping Strategies

We all need coping strategies! It can be difficult to cope with stress or worries as a child.  Most of the time, it can be hard to just figure out what is going on with the mood swings, frustration, behaviors, and lack of focus.  Most of these problems can be a result of a multitude of problems!  

And, helping kids to understand the size of the problem is part of this because then we can help them know how to cope.

Self regulation strategies use coping mechanisms to support various states of emotional and behavioral levels. The Zones of Regulation and the Alert Program both use coping tools to support emotional and behavioral needs.

From emotional regulation concerns, to sensory processing issues, to executive functioning struggles, to anxiety, communication issues, or cognitive levels–ALL of the resulting behaviors can benefit from coping strategies.

Here on The OT Toolbox, I’ve shared sensory coping strategies for anxiety or worries. These can be used for so many other underlying concerns as well.

It’s not just anxiety or worries that causes a need for sensory-based coping strategies. Emotional regulation, an unbalanced sense of being, stress, situational or environmental issues…the list of concerns that would benefit from sensory coping tools could go on and on.

Incorporating sensory strategies and sensory play into a coping toolbox can help kids with a multitude of difficulties.  Try using some of these ideas in isolation and use others in combination with one or two others.  The thing about coping strategies is that one thing might help with issues one time, but not another.

Coping strategies for kids that help kids with regulation, emotions, stress, worries.

Coping Strategies for Kids 

One thing to remember is that every child is vastly different. What helps one child cope may not help another child in the same class or grade.  Children struggle with issues and need an answer for their troubles for many different reasons.  The underlying issues like auditory processing issues or low frustration tolerance are all part of the extremely complex puzzle.

Other contributions to using coping strategies include a child’s self-regulation, executive functioning skills, self-esteem, emotional regulation, and frustration tolerance. That makes sense, right? It’s all connected!

Coping Skills for Kids meet needs

Coping skills are the tools that a person can use to deal with stressful situations. Coping strategies help a us deal with occupational unbalance, so that we can be flexible and persistent in addressing those needs.

Coping skills in children can be used based on the needs of the individual child.  Also, there is a lot to consider about the influence of factors that affect the person’s ability to cope with areas of difficulty.  Likewise, feedback from precious coping efforts relates to the efficacy of a coping plan. (Gage, 1992).

Coping skills in kids depends on many things: wellness, self-regulation, emotional development, sensory processing, and more.

Having a set of coping skills benefit children and adults!  Every one of us has stress or worries in some manner or another.  Children with sensory processing issues, anxiety, or social emotional struggles know the stress of frustration to situations.  It’s no surprise that some of these issues like sensory processing disorder and anxiety are linked.

Research on wellness tells us that child well being is dependent on various factors, including parental resources, parental mental health, parental relationship quality, parenting quality, father involvement, family types, and family stability. What’s more is that taking a look at the overall balance in a family and the child can provide understanding into things like stress, frustration, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings. The wellness wheel can help with getting a big picture look at various components of overall well-being.

Coping Flexibility

In fact, studies tell us that coping flexibility may be an important way to investigate coping. Coping flexibility, or an individual’s ability to modify and change coping strategies depending on the context, can be impacted by executive functioning difficulties including flexible thinking, working memory, impulse control, emotional control, and self-monitoring.

And, having more coping strategies in one’s toolbox coping may be an important precursor to coping flexibility, especially because having flexibility in coping abilities can only be obtained if an individual is able to access and use different coping strategies. It’s the chicken or the egg concept!

Another study found that children who used problem solving or constructive communication were better able to manage stress and that those who used maladaptive strategies like suppressing, avoiding or denying their feelings, had higher levels of problems related to stress. It makes sense. The most effective coping strategies are ones that adapting to the stressors rather than trying to change the stressors.

So, how can we help with stress and frustrations?  One tool is having a set of sensory coping strategies available to use in these situations.    

Types of coping skills

All of this said, we can break down coping skills for kids into different types of coping strategies that can be added to a coping toolbox:

Physical- exercise, movement, brain breaks, heavy work are some examples. Physical coping strategies might include pounding a pillow in frustration, using a fidget toy, running, yoga.

Sensory- While there is a physical component to sensory coping strategies (proprioception and vestibular input are just that: physical movement…and the act of participating in sensory coping strategies involves movement and physical action of the body’s sensory systems) this type of coping tool is separated for it’s uniqueness. Examples include aromatherapy, listening to music, mindfulness (interoception), and sensory play.

Sensory strategies that are motivating can be a big help for some kids. Try these train themed sensory activity ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Emotional- Thinking about one’s feelings and emotions is the start of emotional regulation and social development. Acting out feelings, talking to a friend or teacher…communication is huge!

These social skills activities are a great way to build awareness of self and others and can double as coping tools too.

Communication- Talking about feelings, talking to others, writing in a journal, singing. Have you ever just had to “vent” your feelings about a situation? That ability to “let it all out” is a way to process a situation and talk through solutions, or find common ground in a situation.

Use this list of coping skills to help kids build a coping skills toolbox.

List of Coping skills

1. Move- Get up and run in place, jog, do jumping jacks, or hop in place.

2. Fidget tools in school– Use learning-friendly fidget tools, perfect for the classroom or at-home learning space. Here is one desk fidget tool that kids can use while learning.

3. Talk- Talk about it to a friend, talk to an adult, or talk to a teacher.

4. Snuggle- Grab a big cozy blanket and pile pillows around you to build a fort of comfort!  The pressure from the blanket and pillows provides proprioceptive input.

5. Take a bath or hot shower.

6. Blow bubbles.  The oral sensory input is organizing.

7. Sensory water play.

8. Scream into a pillow.

9. Pound play dough.  Try a heavy work dough like this DIY marshmallow proprioception dough.

10. Use a keychain fidget tool. This is a DIY fidget tool that kids can make while building fine motor skills. Attach it to a belt loop, backpack, or even shoe laces for circle time attention.

11. Exercise. This alphabet exercise activities can be helpful in coming up with exercises for kids. Use the printable sheet to spell words, the child’s name, etc. This alphabet slide deck for teletherapy uses the same letter exercises and offers exercises for each letter of the alphabet. Use it in teletherapy or face-to-face sessions or learning.

12. Look at the clouds and find shapes.

13. Deep breathing. Deep breathing exercise are a mindfulness activity for kids with benefits… Try these themed deep breathing printable sheets: pumpkin deep breathing, clover deep breathing, Thanksgiving deep breathing, and Christmas mindfulness activity.

14. Take a walk in nature.

15. Play a game.

16.  Build with LEGOS.

17. Listen to the sounds of the ocean on a soothing sounds app or sound machine.

18. Count backwards.  Try walking in a circle while counting or other movements such as jumping, skipping, or hopping.

19. Drink a cold drink.

20. Drink a smoothie. There are proprioceptive and oral motor benefits to drinking a smoothie through a straw. Here are rainbow smoothie recipes for each color of the rainbow.

21. Squeeze a stuffed animal.

22. Listen to music.

23. Hum a favorite song.

24. Blow bubbles.

25. Chew gum.

27. Tear paper for fine motor benefits and heavy work for the fingers and hands.

28. Smash and jump on ice cubes outdoors.  Jumping on ice is a great activity for incorporating prioprioceptive sensory input.

29. Journal.  The Impulse Control Journal is an excellent tool for self-awareness and coming up with a game plan that works…and then keeping track of how it all works together in daily tasks.

30. Guided imagery.

31. Think of consequences.

32. Stretch.

33.  Go for a walk.

34.  Write a story or draw a picture. Sometimes it helps to crumble it up and throw it away!

35.  Blow up balloons and then pop them.

36. Take a time out.

37. Animal walks.

38. Imagine the best day ever.

39.  Swing on swings.

40.  Name 5 positive things about yourself.

41. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Drawing can relieve stress.

42. Try a pencil topper fidget tool for focus during written work.

43. Add movement- This monster movements slide deck uses a monster theme for core strength, mobility and movement breaks. It’s perfect for teletherapy and using as a coping strategy.

44. Try this easy coping strategy that only uses your hands.

45. Take a nap.

46. Sensory-based tricks and tips that help with meltdowns.

47. Use calm down toys.

HEAVY WORK coping skills

Brain breaks are a powerful and effective way to address regulation needs, help with attention, and impact learning into the classroom or at home as part of distance learning.

The impact of emotions and changes to routines can be big stressors in kids. They are struggling through the day’s activities while sometimes striving to pay attention through sensory processing issues or executive functioning needs. Brain breaks, or movement breaks can be used as part of a sensory diet or in a whole-classroom activity between classroom tasks. 

This collection of 11 pages of heavy work activity cards are combined into themed cards so you can add heavy work to everyday play.

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

Coping strategies for kids printable

Want a printable list of coping tools for kids? This list of coping skills can be printed off and used as a checklist for building a toolbox of strategies.

Get the printable version of this list.  It’s free!

Try these sensory coping strategies to help kids with anxiety, stress, worries, or other issues.
Printable list of sensory coping strategies for helping kids cope.

Coping strategies can come in handy in many situations:

When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

Free Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

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    Gage, M. (1992). The Appraisal Model of Coping: An Assessment and Intervention Model for Occupational Therapy, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 46, 353-362. Retrieved from : oi:10.5014/ajot.46.4.353 on 5-24-27.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Snowy Farm Sensory Bin

    farm sensory bin

    Welcome to a winter wonderland on the farm! In today’s blog post, we’re diving into the magical world of sensory play with a snowy farm sensory bin. This delightful activity combines the charm of a farm theme with the sensory joys of winter, creating an engaging and therapeutic experience for children. This is one of our favorite winter sensory bins because you can focus on so many different underlying skills through play.

    Farm sensory bin

    Whether you’re a parent looking for creative winter activities or a therapist seeking effective tools for skill development, this farm sensory bin is tailored to captivate young minds while addressing various therapeutic areas. Read all about sensory bins in general as a therapy tool to support skill development.

    Farm Sensory Bin

    We love a great occupational therapy sensory activity because cold winter temps and less daylight hours mean you might not have a chance to get little ones outside as often as you might like. Plus, a farm sensory bin goes great with a Farm theme in preschool or in occupational therapy sessions.

    This farm sensory bin has a winter theme, but you could actually set up a farm sensory bin any time of year. In fact, we loved this play dough farm activity that goes along with a farm theme and supports fine motor skills as well as sensory input.

    The base of shredded paper sets the stage for a snowy landscape, providing a tactile experience that stimulates sensory exploration and fine motor skills.

    This winter-themed sensory bin features a collection of farm toys and mini figures, turning the snowy setting into a farm scene ready for imaginative play.

    Farm Animal Sensory Bin

    The farm animal sensory bin takes the excitement a step further, introducing miniature figures of beloved farm animals. As children dive into the bin, they engage in hands-on exploration, feeling the textures of the shredded paper, maneuvering the farm toys, and creating their own farm stories.

    This sensory-rich experience enhances tactile input, encouraging self-confidence as children express themselves through play.

    Farm Theme Sensory Bin Setup

    Setting up the farm theme sensory bin is a breeze:

    1. Begin with a large container filled with shredded paper to create a snowy base. You could also use other sensory bin base materials if you don’t have shredded paper on hand.
    2. Add farm toys such as barns, tractors, and mini figures of animals to bring the farm to life.
    3. Encourage creativity by incorporating small props like faux trees or fences. This simple yet effective setup provides a canvas for endless imaginative scenarios.

    Before this weekend, we’ve had a super cool spring.  With a handful of days where it snowed.  We are ready for outside play in short sleeves, running in the yard, and grass stained knees.

    But, we have been loving this fun play activity too 🙂

    We had a boat load of shredded paper from doing taxes recently.  It came in pretty handy for a small world snowy farm scene!

    We put some farm animals, the Little People barn, and of course, Little Guy’s construction vehicles.

    (how else can the farmer move allll that snow??)

    Little Guy went to farm-town with imagination stories and pretend play.

    Baby Girl loves to make the animal sounds and had a blast finding them in the shredded paper.

    Why This Farm Sensory Bin Helps Development

    Beyond simply playing in the sensory bin, this farm sensory bin serves as a therapeutic tool to foster development in various areas.

    You can target areas in:

    Fine motor skills are particularly important in early childhood development, as they lay the foundation for more complex tasks in the future. 

    Tactile discrimination, exploration, and sensory desensitization are effectively addressed with sensory bins as they are playful and present in a non-threatening way. The playful nature of sensory bins allows children to control their tactile experiences, fostering confidence in their interactions with materials and gradually increasing their comfort with different sensations. 

    The hands-on nature of the activity promotes fine motor skills as children manipulate the farm toys and engage with the sensory materials. Communication skills blossom as they create farm narratives, fostering language development.

    In addition, occupational therapy providers love sensory bins because they can offer a unique and enjoyable way to engage reluctant children who may initially be hesitant about engaging in the sensory elements of tactile defensiveness challenges.

    Tactile input and sensory exploration contribute to a holistic sensory experience, supporting overall sensory processing.


    My fun-loving Baby Girl instigated this little incident…
    she just couldn’t help herself 🙂
    What are we learning through play?

    Imagination Play

    Pretend Play

    Learning Animals

    Animal Sounds

    Visual Scanning

    Sensory Play


    Farm Sensory Bin Ideas

    You can pair this farm sensory bin with other therapy ideas, too. Use some of these tools and resources to support skills like gross motor skills, coordination, brain breaks, and more:

    • These Farm Brain Breaks can add movement and gross motor input to a child’s day and fit in great with a farm animal theme. Print off the cards and use them in the classroom or home.
    • These heavy work cards includes a set of 8 farm themed heavy work activities that can be used as a brain break or added proprioceptive input.
    • Free Farm Scissor Skills Packet
    • This barn craft is fun because kids can make a barn and use it in the farm animal sensory bin.
    • This Farm Fingerprint art activity supports visual closure, visual tracking, and visual scanning activity, too.
    • The Farm Therapy Kit has a bunch or activities to support sensory needs, handwriting, motor skills, dexterity, and more.

    Get your copy of the Farm Therapy Kit.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Christmas Light Tunnel

    Christmas light tunnel is a sensory tunnel made with a cardboard box and lights

    This sensory light box is an old blog post here on The OT Toolbox, but this Christmas light tunnel is one that my kids still talk about.

    Creating a sensory-rich environment is essential for promoting optimal child development, and one innovative way to achieve this is through a DIY project like the one we made many years ago… the sensory light tunnel made from a cardboard box with Christmas lights.

    Christmas light tunnel is a sensory tunnel made with a cardboard box and lights

    Christmas Light Tunnel

    This sensory play activity, often referred to as a “sensory light box” or “sensory light tunnel,” can be a fun addition to a child’s play space, providing both visual and tactile stimulation.

    A Christmas light tunnel is exactly what you might imagine it to be…a tunnel made from cardboard boxes lit by Christmas lights that poke through holes in the box.

    Making a sensory light tunnel is easy and inexpensive for parents and caregivers, making it a fantastic DIY project. Most of us have cardboard boxes available to us from deliveries, and Christmas lights are often times a household item.

    The cardboard fort ideas we came up with many years ago come to life after the holidays when we were putting away Christmas lights for the year. WE used a few cardboard boxes, and taped them together to form a tunnel, creating a unique and inviting space for play.

    Incorporating Christmas lights not only adds a festive touch but also introduces sensory lighting to the environment, fostering visual engagement and exploration.

    Sensory Light Box for Babies

    A sensory light box for babies and toddlers involves transforming a simple cardboard box into a magical tunnel of lights. The light box sensory play is designed to captivate young minds and enhance their sensory experiences. This DIY Christmas light tunnel serves as an indoor box fort, offering a cozy and imaginative space for children to explore.

    The therapy providers will love this activity because it can be a calming and regulating sensory space in a home or in a calm down corner. For younger children, it’s a great way to encourage crawling.

    Research supports the benefits of sensory play for child development. According to studies, sensory experiences contribute to cognitive, emotional, and social development in young children. The sensory cardboard box for babies provides opportunities for them to develop fine motor and gross motor skills, enhance spatial awareness for babies, and stimulate their senses in a safe and controlled environment.

    For parents seeking research-backed information to support their child’s needs, this DIY light tunnel aligns with the principles of sensory processing, a well-established approach in occupational therapy for children with sensory processing difficulties. By incorporating Christmas lights into the sensory play, the child’s visual system is engaged, promoting attention, focus, and exploration.

    We love this sensory light tunnel made from a cardboard box and Christmas lights for babies and toddlers.

    It’s a great, inexpensive occupational therapy tool to use in therapy sessions and as a DIY recommendation for project for parents and caregivers, emphasizing the positive impact on child development through sensory play and exploration.

    How to make a Christmas Light Tunnel

    (Or a Light Tunnel from a cardboard box…)

    I made this light tunnel for Baby Girl’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star party. Babies love crawling through tunnels, playing in boxes.  When I saw this, I knew my kids would love it in so many ways.  

    We used this light tunnel for the party, but have had it in our living room ever since the party and have used it in so many play activities.  

    All you need for this project is:

    • A large cardboard box (or several boxes)
    • Christmas lights
    • A Screwdriver or pencil
    • Duct tape (optional)

    To make the Christmas Light Tunnel:

    1. Use a screwdriver or pencil to poke holes into one side of a cardboard box. This side will be the top of the sensory tunnel, so think about which way you’ll want to position the box.
    2. Poke each individual light of the Christmas light strands through the holes and into the box.

    If you are creating a tunnel and have a second box, you can cut off the ends of the box to create a tunnel. then, use the duct tape to attach the boxes.

    Carboard box with Christmas lights poking through the box
    I started with two boxes and stuck them together by cutting a hole in one.  I wanted two entrances since we have so many little little kids in our family.
     It would be fun for them to crawl in one entrance and out the other.  One box was a double stroller box that my sister-in-law had at her house. The big box, I grabbed up at an appliance store (before they crushed it down, apparently this happens fast when they unload appliances…the boxes go right into the compactor).


    I stabbed the boxes with a screwdriver and stuck the Christmas lights in.  Pretty easy!   


    This is what the Christmas light tunnel looks like from the outside.
    Since the party, we have been using this as a calm down place to chill out with some pillows, blankets, and great books.


    Today, I pulled out our bin of corn.  The Big kids thought this was a really fun idea.  They were so excited to put the corn in the light box.  
    This is a great regulation station for home or for therapy.






    Doesn’t this look like so much fun???


     We played with dinosaurs, cars, and construction vehicles in the corn. 








    Clean up was easy, just tilt the box to pour the corn back into the container.  I think we’ll be doing this again 😉


    For more ideas on incorporating sensory input into the everyday, check out our resource, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

    The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

    The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Best Sensory Toys

    sensory toys and sensory tools

    If you are looking for the very best sensory toys to challenge sensory exploration, tactile play, or to offer sensory input to calm or alert a child, then you are in the right place. This gift guide of toys for sensory play cover many aspects of sensory processing in fun and engaging ways. Whether you need to add a few components to a sensory diet through play, or you are looking for a gift idea that develops specific skill areas, these occupational therapy toys, sensory toys, fidget toys, and movement toys cover all the bases.

    When it comes to sensory toys, many of the ideas in our gross motor toy suggestions will hit on movement and heavy work input, so be sure to check that gift list out as well. Today is all about the sensory motor play.  Many of these toy recommendations would make great additions to a sensory room equipment collection or a sensory gym!

    First, let’s talk Sensory Tools and Toys!

    Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Sensory toys and sensory tools for kids

    The Best Sensory Toys

    We had so much fun putting together our recent Gift Guide Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp, that we decided to put together this gift guide for Toys to Inspire Sensory Play.  If you follow our blog posts, you know that we LOVE messy, sensory, textural play.  

    There are so many benefits to sensory play for young children.  They can explore textures, colors, scents while manipulating with their hands, expanding language skills, developing self-confidence, and so much more.  And while they are playing, they are exploring, exploring, investigating, and creating!  

    This gift guide provides ideas to incorporate sensory play into daily play.  We wanted to provide a list of gift ideas so that sensory play can be done easily once you have all of the needed items.  What better time to stock the activity bin/closet/box than during the holidays?  

    Maybe a relative is asking for gift ideas and there is something you would LOVE your kids to play with for sensory experiences.  Direct them to this gift guide for ideas to encourage sensory play!

    Sensory Tools

    First let’s cover a bit about how these toys are sensory tools. When it comes to kids, play is their primary occupation. It’s their main job. Through play, kids learn about the world around them, they practice and develop skills, and they interact with others.

    Play is also a prime way to incorporate movement and sensory experiences, allowing kids to regulate their nervous system, calm down, focus, attend to tasks, and remember important experiences.

    Sensory tools are means of facilitating sensory input. Whether that input is calming, alerting, or something else, it’s through experiences or sensory tools that a child gains sensory input. Sensory tools can offer movement, tactile input, visual input, or input through the olfactory system, gustatory system, auditory system and interoceptive system.

    Check out this resource on sensory processing for more information on all of the senses and how they integrate to enable functional participation in day to day tasks.

    The specifically selected toys and tools below incorporate sensory input in one way or another.

    Amazon affiliate links are included below.

    Sensory Toys and sensory tools ideas for kids

    Light Tables as a Sensory TOOL

    Have you ever used a light table in therapy? It’s a fun sensory experience for kids to challenge fine motor skills, as well as cognitive skills, and even posture or balance, all with the sensory input of a light table and manipulatives.

    Light Panel in Sensory Play:
    This Portable Light Panel (affiliate link) is great for visual sensory exploration.  Tracing and tactile manipulation can enhance math, handwriting, spatial relationships, and more through sensory play.

    You could add a few Light Table Pattern Blocks (affiliate link) or even magnetic Imaginarium Letters & Numbers (affiliate link) like we did in our DIY Sensory Light Box (affiliate link) post.  Explore the shapes and textures of leaves, petals, and so much more with a light table!

    Messy Sensory Toys

    Our kids LOVE to get messy!  Not all kids do, however, and may need gradual experiences to build up their tolerance to sensory touch and manipulate different textures.  Some of our favorite messy play materials are:

    Kinetic Sand (affiliate link) (such a cool texture…but be warned, Moon Dough is VERY messy!)

    Educational Insights Playfoam (affiliate link) (such a neat textural experience!)

    Aqua Sand Polar Playground (affiliate link) is another super messy but very cool play experience.  The wet sand dries immediately, how fun!

    Glow in The Dark Slime (affiliate link) is slimy, messy, and glow in the dark.  Add a few Marbles and you’ve got a super sensory texture. The slime and the marbles would make fun stocking stuffers!

    Scented Sensory Toys

    Scented Play is a fun way to engage and alert the senses through sensory toys.

    Remember these Mr. Sketch Scented Markers (affiliate link) from grade school?  I can still remember that blueberry scent!  What a great way to explore the sense of smell while playing and creating art.  Have the kids draw with the markers and then spray the art work with a water bottle to see the colors run.  This would be a great sensory and process art project for kids of all ages!

    This Scented Balls Set (affiliate link) sounds so neat!  We’ve never played with these before, but they each come in a different scent and would make an awesome stocking stuffer!

    Sensory Bin Toys

    There are so many ways to use a sensory bin in sensory play. You can offer texture challenges that meet the needs of the child AND incorporate learning opportunities.

    Color Changing Tablets for Sensory Play:
    The sense of sight is such an immediate one!  A sensory experience can be set up for the kids and as soon as they see a bright green bin of water with scoops or foam pieces, they are excited for play! 

    These Color My Bath Color Changing Bath Tablets (affiliate link) are great for setting the stage for multi-sensory play.  We’ve used them in our Swamp Water Bin Sensory Play activity.  Watching the colors fizz and mix is such a fun experience!

    Throw these tablets into the bath tub along with a few unexpected items (Paint Brushes (affiliate link), fun eye droppers like these Learning Resources Twisty Droppers (affiliate link), or a Funnel Set(affiliate link) and you’ve got a great sensory play environment!

    Manipulatives In Sensory Play:
    Sensory play is such a fun way to play and learn any topic.  Exploring textures with sensory input can really instill learning. So what can you put in the sensory bin, or water bin, or in the shaving cream on a tray?  The possibilities are endless!

    Try a jungle theme and add Jungle Animal Counters (affiliate link).  Maybe your child LOVES dinosaurs and would go crazy to play with Mini Dinosaurs (affiliate link)
    in a tub of birdseed.  Any theme or subject can be added to sensory play. 

    Water Beads in Sensory Play:
    There is nothing more fun than this sensory play item!  Water Beads (affiliate link)are typically used as a vase filler because once soaked in water, they expand and become a super sensory, fun, fine motor medium. 

    We’ve used them in sensory bins of all kinds.  This set from Bundle Monster is great deal and comes in so many fun colors.  (Note: always be sure to supervise children when playing with water beads!)

    Water Tables In Sensory Play:
    Water tables are great for sensory play.  Despite it’s name, water tables are not JUST for water!  There are so many possibilities for messy play with a water table.  Goop, moon dough, birdseed,  shaving cream…the possibilities for sensory and textural play are endless! A water table is not just for outdoor play during the summer months.  We love bringing our sand and water table indoors during the cooler months and playing with bigger items like seashells, animal figures in play dough, mixing flour and a bit of water. 

    We love this Step2 Water Table (affiliate link) for its large basin, the added water wheel (How fun to pour sand and watch it fall!). So many senses can be addressed with water table play.  We explored the textures of fall with a Fall Themed Water Table.  Since we’ve added our water table to our play, we’ve had so much sensory play fun!

    Sensory Tools in a sensory bin

    There are many materials that can be added to a bin or low tray and used as a sensory tool. Some of these can be very inexpensive, making them great tools for sensory exploration. Incorporate these materials into multisensory learning, too.

    More Ideas for sensory play:
    shaving cream
    food coloring
    field corn
    split peas
    dry beans
    colored rice
    colored sand
    cotton balls

    Sensory Fidget Toys

    Fidget toys are a fun (and popular) way to address attention needs through small scale sensory input. Each of these fidget toys promote fine motor development by encouraging finger isolation, bilateral coordination, precision, and eye-hand coordination.

    Amazon affiliate links are included below.

    Great stocking stuffers for sensory play:

    Sensory Balls (affiliate link)

    Textured Sensory Fidget Toy– (affiliate link) Great for bilateral coordination and fine moor skills.

    Wooden Puzzle Fidget(affiliate link)

    Pull and Stretch Bounce Ball (affiliate link)

    Sensory Toys for Calming Input

    The ideas below make great gift ideas because they add heavy work input, or calming movement input, through the proprioceptive system and vestibular sensory system. These sensory tools can be a great addition to the home.

    These are Amazon affiliate links.

    Alerting Sensory Toys

    These toy ideas van be alerting activities that “wake up” the sensory system. For others, through, they can calm the system, because the child gains a sensory work out when using them. Be sure to contact an occupational therapist for a sensory evaluation and suggestions for the needs of each individual.

    This list is Amazon affiliate links.

    So, if you are looking for a few ideas to add some sensory fun to your gift giving this holiday…or have family and friends asking for gift ideas…maybe one of these sensory play toys will be just right for your little one!  This list is by no means exclusive.  There are limitless ways to encourage sensory exploration into play.  We just wanted to provide a few ideas.  Happy playing!

    More Movement sensory toy ideas

    The lists of toy suggestions in the following blog posts are geared toward specific developmental areas. But, when it comes to movement, there are many sensory components intrinsically incorporated into the play. Check out these specific toy ideas:

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

    Printable List of Toys for SENSORY NEEDS

    When it comes to sensory needs, we are all different! Targeting different needs with toys that meet various needs is encouraging and motivating.

    Want a printable copy of our therapist-recommended toys to support sensory processing?

    As therapy professionals, we LOVE to recommend therapy toys that build skills! This toy list is done for you so you don’t need to recreate the wheel.

    Your therapy caseload will love these SENSORY toy recommendations. (There’s space on this handout for you to write in your own toy suggestions, to meet the client’s individual needs, too!)

    Enter your email address into the form below. The OT Toolbox Member’s Club Members can access this handout inside the dashboard, under Educational Handouts. Just be sure to log into your account, first!


      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise for Halloween Mindfulness

      Pumpkin deep breathing exercise

      This Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise is the very first visual breathing tool that we created here on the website. We now have many more deep breathing exercises designed to support self-regulation, mindfulness, and brain break needs. We’ve recently updated this Halloween mindfulness activity to include more information on WHY this pumpkin deep breathing strategy works. We’ve also updated the printable to include a pumpkin breathing poster and a pumpkin mindfulness coloring page! This printable deep breathing exercise is a great Halloween Mindfulness mindfulness activity.

      You can get both below or access them in our Member’s Club.

      Pumpkin Deep breathing exercise

      Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

      This Halloween activity is one that I came up with while thinking about our recent Halloween Occupational Therapy activities post. So often, we see kids who struggle with coping strategies and require tools to improve self regulation.

      This can occur at school or at home. What if we could combine a child’s interest in all things Halloween with a deep breathing exercise that can be used as a coping strategy, or a calm down activity?

      That’s where this pumpkin deep breathing exercise comes in.

      This deep breathing exercise uses a pumpkin for a coping strategy for kids that is a calm down strategy this Halloween.

      Halloween Mindfulness Activity

      We’ve created many breathing exercises to calm down kids (and adults) here on the website, and this pumpkin themed mindfulness strategy is just one of the tools in the toolbox.

      So often, parents and teachers ask for strategies to use as a coping mechanism. When kids have coping tools in their toolbox for addressing sensory needs, worries, and getting to that “just right” state of regulation, a self-reflective state can occur.

      Addressing specific needs like sensory overload, worries or anxiety, fears, or nervousness can be as simple as having a set of sensory coping strategies on hand. One way to do this is using mindfulness and positive coping skills like this deep breathing exercises.

      Using deep breathing exercises to support mindfulness and coping skills works for several reasons:

      • When kids are taught about how their body feels and reacts in certain situations, they can self-reflect on past responses.
      • They can better understand who they are and how their body reacts to stressful or sensory situations.
      • By better understanding their states of regulation, they can be mindful of things that may set them off, but better yet, know how to respond.
      • Having a coping strategy on hand can set them up for success in learning or social situations.

      Practicing mindfulness activities and coping strategies can be powerful for kids!

      Mindfulness is the ability and awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations as our body responds or reacts in thought, feeling, and sensations. Mindfulness is being present in the moment in any given situation with full awareness of inward and outward sensations. Practicing mindful awareness through deep breathing exercises is one way to notice how our body is reacting in a given moment and provides a tool to reset. Coping skills for kids may include deep breathing as just one strategy.

      Here are some mindfulness videos on YouTube to help kids better understand what coping strategies and mindfulness in action looks and feels like.

      Deep breathing acts as a coping tactic and a calming activity. It’s an easy coping strategy for kids because taking deep breaths with mindful breathing can be done anywhere and without any equipment.

      Taking controlled breaths with deep breathing can give kids a sense of control that helps them rest and address self-regulation or emotional regulation when they are upset, worried, or feel a need to calm down.

      Halloween Breathing Exercise

      So now that we’ve covered deep breathing and why it’s a helpful coping strategy for kids, let’s talk about a fun Halloween themed coping strategy that kids will love to try.

      The deep breathing printable activity uses a simple picture of a pumpkin, but you can use a real pumpkin, too.

      Use a real pumpkin for more sensory benefits.

      The small decorative gourds or pie pumpkins are perfect for this activity, because kids can hold the small pumpkin in their hands and feel the weight of the pumpkin as they complete the breathing strategy.

      1. Hold a small pumpkin in the palm of your hand.
      2. Use your pointer finger of your other hand to slowly trace up a ridge and breathe in.
      3. Then trace down another ridge and breathe out.
      4. Continue tracing the ridges of the pumpkin while deeply breathing in and out.

      Take the breathing exercise a step further by trace the lines up toward the stem while taking a deep breath in. Hold the breath for a few seconds and then trace a line down another section of the pumpkin while slowly breathing out. Hold that breath for a few seconds. Repeat this process as you slowly trace up and down the sections of the pumpkin.

      What’s happening with this pumpkin breathing exercise?

      Several sensory systems are at work here when using a real pumpkin in this Halloween mindfulness strategy:

      Heavy Work- The weight of the pumpkin on the arches of the palm of the hand= PROPRIOCEPTIVE sensory system.

      Calming Tactile Cues- Engaging the tactile sensory system to trace the ridges of a smooth surface. Think about how some individuals like rubbing specific textures like a silky blanket or the calming strips of a fidget tool. Running a finger along the groove of a smooth pumpkin surface engages that calming tactile input.

      Belly Breathing- Deep breaths combined with a visual focus offers proprioceptive input through the lungs and diaphragm. Engage belly breathing by taking in fully breaths to fully engage the lungs. Then hold the breath for a second or two before releasing the breath. When belly breathing is engaged, the lungs continue to expand for a moment and add further pressure throughout the ribcage and internal organs. This breath control evokes the interoceptive system.

      Bilateral Coordination- When holding the pumpkin and tracing with a finger on the other hand, both sides of the body are at work in a coordinated manner, otherwise known as bilateral coordination. Holding the pumpkin with one hand and tracing with the other hand engages bilateral use of both sides of the body.

      Whether you are using a pumpkin picture or real pumpkin, show kids how to use deep breathing as a coping tool by taking calming breaths while they trace the lines of the pumpkin.

      Pumpkin deep breathing poster and coloring page
      Pumpkin deep breathing poster and coloring page

      Halloween Deep Breathing Poster

      In this newest update to our calming breathing exercise, we created both a pumpkin deep breathing poster and a coloring page.

      1. The poster can be printed out and hung in a classroom, therapy clinic or home.

      2. Use the deep breathing exercise as a brain break during the month of October.

      3. It’s a great tool for using during Halloween parties as a therapist- approved activity that supports underlying needs, too.

      4. Many times, children can become overstimulated during classroom Halloween parties, and the days leading up to Halloween. Use the pumpkin deep breathing visual as a tool for the whole classroom to organize their sensory systems and focus on the learning that still needs to happen.

      5. This printable page is full color and makes a great addition to a calm down corner this time of year.

      6. You can even add the pumpkin breathing poster to our Fall Sensory Stations, and include this in a hallway or therapy clinic this time of year.

      7. One final way to use this pumpkin mindfulness exercise is during the actual trick or treating. Kids with sensory or self-regulation needs can become overstimulated during trick or treating on Halloween. There is a lot of sensory stimulation out there! From lights, to fog machines, children running in the streets, and lots of strangers in the neighborhood, trick-or-treating is an overloading environment for many kids and adults! Print off a copy of this pumpkin deep breathing tool and use it calm down, engage focused breathing strategies, and cope as needed!

      Pumpkin Breathing Coloring Page

      In the new download below, you’ll also find a page that is a pumpkin breathing coloring page. We know there are many benefits of coloring and one is the calming ability that coloring has.

      Adding heavy work by coloring in pages can be a great way to calm the sensory system through heavy work in the hands.

      Print off the coloring page and use it in several ways this time of year:

      • Color in at occupational therapy sessions
      • Use as a whole class activity
      • Kids can color in the breathing exercise page and use them as individual brain break tools
      • Hang the coloring page on a bulletin board for Halloween that explains sensory self-regulation strategies
      • Include in a Halloween party
      Use a pumpkin as a deep breathing exercise for a coping strategy for kids.

      This printable Halloween mindfulness activity supports coping needs.

      Free Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

      Want to get this free Pumpkin breathing exercise in both a color Poster format AND a coloring page? You’ve got it! Just enter your email address into the form below to access both printable pages.

      This resource is also inside our Member’s Club. Members can log into their accounts and download the file directly without the need to enter an email address. The printable pages are located on our Pumpkin Therapy Theme page and our Mindfulness Toolbox.

      Not a member of the Member’s Club yet? JOIN US HERE.

      Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

        What other freebies and resources would you like to receive?
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        Grab the Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit for more coloring, cutting, and eye-hand coordination activities with a Pumpkin theme! It includes:

        • 7 digital products that can be used any time of year- has a “pumpkins” theme
        • 5 pumpkin scissor skills cutting strips
        • Pumpkin scissor skills shapes- use in sensory bins, math, sorting, pattern activities
        • 2 pumpkin visual perception mazes with writing activity
        • Pumpkin “I Spy” sheet – color in the outline shapes to build pencil control and fine motor strength
        • Pumpkin Lacing cards – print, color, and hole punch to build bilateral coordination skills
        • 2 Pumpkin theme handwriting pages – single and double rule bold lined paper for handwriting practice

        Work on underlying fine motor and visual motor integration skills so you can help students excel in handwriting, learning, and motor skill development.

        You can grab this Pumpkin Fine Motor kit for just $6!

        Halloween Mindfulness Activities

        Use this printable pumpkin deep breathing exercise as a Halloween mindfulness activity. Other printable Halloween mindfulness activities include:

        Halloween Hand Breathing Technique

        We also have a new deep breathing exercise for the Fall or Halloween season. If using a printable to achieve Halloween coping skills isn’t ideal (sometimes you don’t have the printable version with you…or for some kids it might be hard for them to picture a pumpkin as they are coping with some self-regulation needs…), then having another tool in your toolbox is a must.

        We’ve come up with a Halloween Hand Breathing Technique to fit the bill!

        All you need is your hands and fingers to using this hand tracing breathing strategy.

        We talk a bit about using the Hand Breathing Technique for a self-reset to address coping skills, mindset, offset worries or anxiety, and as a deep breathing strategy.

        Check out our video over on YouTube, or you can see it below. If you can’t view the video due to blockers on your computer or device, check out our Pumpkin Hand Breathing Technique over on YouTube.

        To complete the Halloween Hand breathing technique, you can use the same pumpkin deep breathing strategy, but trace a pumpkin on the palm of your hand. We also included a pumpkin tracing task to create a motor plan for the pumpkin shape that is incorporated with deep breaths in and out.

        Have fun!

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        About Ayres Sensory Integration

        Ayres Sensory Integration

        In this post, we are going to give you the basics of Ayres Sensory Integration. If you have never heard of it, continue reading for plenty of information and resources that will help you become more familiar with this practice. Or, if you are trained in sensory approaches and looking to refresh your knowledge, we have got you covered. Learn more about the sensory system and and sensory-based activities in this resource on Sensory.

        Ayres sensory integration and how this specialized sensory treatment impacts kids with sensory processing needs.


        You may have heard the terms Ayres Sensory Integration, of Ayres SI. Maybe you’re familiar with the term sensory integration. But what do these terms mean?

        Sensory integration has many layers, but it can be made quite simple. In fact, everyone has experienced sensory integration! Think about your senses; the way you feel things on your skin, see bright or dim light, smell a cup of coffee, or feel dizzy on a rollercoaster. Your body senses a stimulus, for example, the feeling of your shirt against your skin.

        After a few moments, you don’t think about how the shirt feels on your skin. You wear it all day long without feeling it touch you.

        This is an example of sensory integration. That sensation – the touch of the shirt to your skin – was processed and organized by your nervous system, and the nervous system decided that it did not need to process it any more. In other words, it was integrated!

        But what happens if the sensation is not integrated?

        You may have heard of someone who can feel their shirt, particularly the tag of their shirt, all day long. It may bother them so much that they cut off those tags to avoid feeling that sensation.

        It may be that somewhere along the sensory nervous system pathway, the signals for processing that touch sensation are blocked, or lost. Instead of being processed and integrated as, “You don’t need to feel this any more!”, it’s stuck in a processing limbo of, “what is this that I am feeling?”.

        Much like how a sudden closure on the freeway means that you will have to find another way to your destination, those sensory signals need to learn where to go when their path is not clear.

        Sensory integration therapy can help find a new path to that destination and turn off the signals that cause the over-response to the stimuli (in this case, the shirt).

        Who is Jean Ayres? Dr. A. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist, psychologist, and neuroscientist, developed this theory and practice in the mid 1970s. She recognized that a child’s sensory system can greatly impact how they perceive and interact with the world around them. Dr. Jean Ayres developed specific sensory integration interventions based on her research findings over the course of her career.

        WHO IS Jean AYRES?

        Dr. A. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist, psychologist, and neuroscientist, developed this theory and practice in the mid 1970s. She recognized that a child’s sensory system can greatly impact how they perceive and interact with the world around them. Dr. Jean Ayres developed specific sensory integration interventions based on her research findings over the course of her career.

        Since 2005, Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) has been trademarked to differentiate this particular method from other sensory-based therapies. The term Ayres Sensory Integration, or ASI, encompasses the theory, assessments, and interventions that were developed by Dr. Ayres.

        WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT Ayres Sensory Integration?

        There are reasons why ASI is trademarked and other sensory approaches are not – so what makes Ayres Sensory Integration so unique? One reason why the trademark was necessary was to clarify to the public and the academic communities which evidence to correlate with ASI.

        The evidence for sensory interventions were becoming increasingly mucky – it became difficult to discern if ASI worked because so many people were calling any sensory approaches ASI, even if they did not align with the principles (Parham et al., 2007).

        To be considered true ASI, a trained practitioner must follow a specific protocol in their evaluation and treatment of their client. To start, the practitioner would evaluate their client using methods of naturalistic observation, conducting caregiver and teacher interviews, administering standardized testing, and performing clinical observations.

        After the evaluation is complete, they will determine the ways in which sensory integration deficits may be interfering with the child’s functional performance.

        Core Elements of Ayres Sensory Integration

        After determining that ASI is an appropriate intervention method for a child, the trained practitioner will develop sensory interventions that fall within the core elements of the ASI approach:

        1. Ensures physical safety.
        2. Presents sensory opportunities.
        3. Helps maintain appropriate levels of alertness.
        4. Challenges postural, ocular, oral, or bilateral motor control.
        5. Challenges praxis and organization of behavior.
        6. Collaborates in activity choice.
        7. Tailors activity to present the just-right challenge.
        8. Ensures that activities are successful.
        9. Supports a child’s intrinsic motivation to play.
        10. Establishes a therapeutic alliance.
          (Parham et al., 2020)

        DOES Ayres Sensory Integration WORK?

        Sensory integration is an on-going research topic in the field of occupational therapy. Many recent publications have suggested that ASI can be used to improve occupational performance (Koester et al., 2014; Miller, Coll, & Schoen, 2007; Pfeiffer, Koenig, Kinnealey, Sheppard, & Henderson, 2011; Roley et al., 2015; Schaaf & Nightlinger, 2007; Schaaf et al., 2013, Schaaf et al., 2015; Watling & Hauer, 2015).

        In other words, ASI is supported by research in it’s main goal: to increase a child’s participation in their daily activities.

        ASI was originally developed as a measure to address the functional abilities of children with learning and behavioral concerns. The positive outcomes of ASI have since been well-documented for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as for children with learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delay, regulatory disorder, and developmental coordination disorder.

        The theory and practice has also been modified for use with other populations and age groups, too!

        Who Uses Ayres Sensory Integration?

        Most recent research estimates that up to 95% of children with developmental delays or disabilities have deficits in sensory functioning (AOTA, 2017).

        Additionally, it is estimated that sensory processing difficulties occur in 5% to 14% kindergartners, 16% of elementary students, and 10% to 12% of people of all ages with no related diagnosis (AOTA, 2017).

        In short, the relevance for sensory integration is huge, due the prevalence of sensory deficits in individuals of various populations.

        To find out if an individual can benefit from ASI therapy, the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) would be administered, per the ASI guidelines. The SIPT was developed by Dr. Ayres specifically to test whether or not ASI is appropriate for an individual, and to highlight specific deficits in sensory processing.

        RESOURCES on Sensory Integration

        There are many great resources available for practitioners and families alike. See the options below to discover more about the sensory system, ASI theory, and sensory-based interventions.

        Ayers Sensory Integration and Therapy

        While Sensory integration (SI) refers to a theory developed by Dr. Jean Ayers in the 1960’s much has changed in the world since the conception of sensory integration therapy.

        We have screens, online worlds, technology, fast paced lifestyles, full schedules, various educational models and programming types, changed environments, different home lifestyles, adapted parenting styles, and many other overall lifestyle differences since the 1960s.

        The theory that our Central Nervous System (CNS) takes information from the outside world that has VASTLY changed, while our internal systems has not is an interesting one to chew on.

        We’ve had to accommodate for these different and updated needs that our world has moved into.

        What hasn’t changed is the nervous system’s ability t take information from the outside world, organize it, and use that information to produce purposeful and useful responses toward specific goals we have, physically, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally.

        We are able to use that purposeful information in order to perceive incoming sensory information (the sensory systems of touch, movement, pressure, sounds, tastes, joint sense, sights, and internal information) in order to determine the quality of the responses of each sensory system as they work together as a whole.

        It’s amazing when you think about it, right?!

        Then, there is the vast amount of knowledge that we have as individuals. Today, we can access information, the use of AI, and we can share that information in seconds. Today, the awareness of tools and underlying reasons why we behave the way we do is available to every individual.

        This might mean that sensory interventions can be used in not just the clinical setting anymore. Jean Ayres layed the framework for this knowledge and theories.

        References on Jean Ayers Sensory Integration

        The following are sources of information regarding Jean Ayers Sensory Integration.

        For more in-depth information on Jean Ayres’ sensory integration theory and a comprehensive exploration of occupational therapy interventions based on her principles, I recommend referring to authoritative textbooks, academic papers, and professional resources in the field of sensory integration therapy. These references can provide valuable insights and guidance for those seeking a deeper understanding and effective application of Ayres’ groundbreaking concepts in occupational therapy practice.

        American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA]. (2017). Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about: Ayres Sensory Integration®. https://www.aota.org/-

        Koester, A. C., Mailloux, Z., Coleman, G. G., Mori, A. B., Paul, S. M., Blanche, E., … Cermak, S. A. (2014). Sensory integration functions of children with cochlear implants. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, 562–569.

        Miller, L. J., Coll, J. R., & Schoen, S. A. (2007). A randomized controlled pilot study of the effectiveness of occupational therapy for children with sensory modulation disorder. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 228–238.

        Parham, L. D.., Smith Roley, S., May-Benson, T. A., Koomar J., Brett-Green, B., Burke, J. P., Cohn, E. S., Mailloux, Z., Miller, L. C. & Schaaf, R. C. (2020). Development of a fidelity measure for research on the effectiveness of the Ayres Sensory Integration® intervention. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 133-142. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2011.000745

        Parham, L. D., Cohn, E. S., Spitzer, S., Koomar, J. A., Miller, L. J., Burke, J. P. … Summers, C. A. (2007). Fidelity in sensory integration intervention research. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 216–227.

        Pfeiffer, B. A., Koenig, K., Kinnealey, M., Sheppard, M., & Henderson, L. (2011). Effectiveness of sensory integration interventions in children with autism spectrum disorders: A pilot study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 76–85. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2011.09205

        Roley, S. S., Mailloux, Z., Parham, L. D., Schaaf, R. C., Lane, C. J., & Cermak, S. (2015). Sensory integration and praxis patterns in children with autism. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69, 6901220010. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.5014/ajot.2015.012476

        Schaaf, R. C., Benevides, T., Mailloux, Z., Faller, P., Hunt, J., van Hooydonk, E.,… Kelly, D. (2013). An intervention for sensory difficulties in children with autism: A randomized trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 1493–1506.
        http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/ s10803-013-1983-8

        Schaaf, R. C., Cohn, E. S., Burke, J., Dumont, R., Miller, A., & Mailloux, Z. (2015). Linking sensory factors to participation: Establishing intervention goals with parents for children with autism spectrum disorder. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69, http:// dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.018036

        Watling, R., & Hauer, S. (2015). Effectiveness of Ayres Sensory Integration® and sensory-based interventions for people with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69, 6905180030.

        Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
        background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
        providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
        a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

        Sensory Bin Base Ideas

        Child playing in sensory bin with tongs to pick up shredded paper. Text reads "sensory bin base materials"

        In this blog post, we are covering a very important sensory materials: sensory bin base ideas, or sensory bin fillers. You have probably seen a sensory bin activity here or there and thought nothing of it. But, did you know that the sensory material that is used to create the sensory bin is very much a part of the tactile sensory experience? Include these fillers in our easy sensory bin ideas to include themes or motivating activities.

        Let’s explore various sensory bases as a tactile therapy tool.

        Sensory bin base materials

        Sensory Bin Materials

        If you read our blog, you’ll see that we are both huge fans of sensory play.  Sensory bins are such a fun way for kids to explore textures and the senses while learning about the world and themselves. 

        Sensory bins can be tailored to any learning theme and are just fun for exploration. 

        We wanted to put together a collection of sensory bin base ideas.  These are the materials that you start your sensory bin with.  Add letters, numbers, animals, sight words…the possibilities for sensory play is endless!

        Usually, a sensory bin has several materials:

        • sensory base container (bin, basket, tub, baby pool, etc.)
        • sensory bin filler or sensory base material
        • sensory bin items to explore- these might be manipulatives or small objects
        • scoops, cups, funnels, tongs, spoons, or tools to pick up and move objects

        Each component can be used to develop various motor skills. In this blog post, we’re covering the base material or the sensory bin filler that you first place in the sensory base container.

        Why Use Different Sensory Bin Fillers

        Children learn about the world through touch, and exploring different textures fosters their understanding of the differences between soft, rough, smooth, bumpy, wet, dry, and other tactile sensations.

        Using different textures in sensory play, especially in a therapeutic context like pediatric occupational therapy, serves specific developmental and therapeutic purposes that can greatly benefit children’s growth and well-being.

        As an occupational therapy provider, it’s important to know why we are using the therapy tools that we select for therapy interventions. Here are some reasons why different textures are important in sensory play, particularly from a therapeutic perspective:

        1. Tactile Exploration and Confidence: Introducing a variety of textures allows children to explore and interact with different sensory experiences. This sensory touch exploration helps them become more comfortable with and confident in touching, feeling, and interacting with different materials.
        2. Tactile Discrimination: Different textures challenge children’s tactile discrimination skills, enabling them to differentiate between various sensory stimuli. This enhances their ability to identify and understand the subtleties of touch.
        3. Sensory Challenges and Desensitization: For children with tactile defensiveness, incorporating textures that might be initially challenging for children helps them gradually become accustomed to those sensations. Therapists can use this approach to address sensory sensitivities and aversions, gradually desensitizing children to certain textures.

        Sensory Bin Fillers

        1. Rice
        2. Kinetic Sand
        3. Shaving Cream (Here is a shaving cream sensory bin).
        4. Play Dough
        5. Dry Pasta
        6. Oats
        7. Beans/Lentils
        8. Cloud Dough
        9. Sandbox sand or play sand
        10. Cornmeal
        11. Pom-Poms
        12. Corn Kernels
        13. Ice Cubes
        14. Cotton Balls
        15. Jello
        16. Foam Shapes
        17. Buttons
        18. Shredded Paper (Try this shredded paper sensory bin)
        19. Fabric Scraps
        20. Beads
        21. Colored Salt
        22. Cereal
        23. Pom-Pom Balls
        24. Slime/Goo
        25. Old or stale cereal

        Nature Sensory Bin Fillers

        Other sensory bin base materials can be found in nature. These are materials that you could find in your own backyard.

        1. Sand
        2. Water
        3. Rocks and Pebbles (check out this rock sensory bin)
        4. Leaves
        5. Pine Cones
        6. Grass Clippings
        7. Bark
        8. Mud
        9. Seashells
        10. Acorns
        11. Tree Branches
        12. Flowers
        13. Pine Needles
        14. River Stones
        15. Moss
        16. Seaweed
        17. Dirt/Soil
        18. Feathers
        19. Seeds
        20. Coconut Husk
        21. Feathers
        22. Pine cones

        Water-Based Sensory Bin Fillers

        Then, there are water-based sensory bin fillers. These include things like water, colored water, and soap. We have done many water bead sensory bins, too. Here are some more ideas:

        1. Water
        2. Colored Water
        3. Soap Water (This foam soap sensory bin is a fine motor workout, too.)
        4. Ice Water
        5. Water Beads
        6. Gelatin Water
        7. Lemon or Orange Water
        8. Scented Water
        9. Watercolor Paper
        10. Sand and Water (for a combination sensory bin)
        Add to these base materials for sensory bin play.


        Sensory Bin Base Ideas


        Add colored noodles to a bin and add cups, spoons, funnels, and more for fine motor play.  Crayon Box Chronicles made this concept sensory bin in their dyed noodles sensory bin.


        Shredded paper makes a great sensory base.  Save the junk mail and send it through the shredder to make a shredded paper reptile sensory bin from Crayon Box Chronicles.

        Something as simple as rocks can make a great base for a sensory bin.  We make this rock sensory bin and explored the senses.
        Explore letters in like in this rock letter sensory bin.


        The dollar store has a vast amount of ways to incorporate learning into sensory bins.  Crayon Box Chronicles made this colored hay sensory bin.  How fun!

        Colored water is an easy way to create a sensory bin.  We made this dyed water swamp sensory bin and explored colors, animals, and more in a swamp theme.

        Have you ever made snow dough?  Seriously the coolest stuff!  This snow dough Arctic Circle sensory bin is one of my favorites from Crayon Box Chronicles .

        It doesn’t take much to make a sensory bin.  This letter sensory bin required nothing other than the letters for learning and play.

        Dirt makes a great sensory bin base.  How many ways can you think of to play?  I love what Crayon Box Chronicles did with their dirt monster truck sensory bin.


        Many sensory bin bases can be found in your pantry.  We used split peas as the base in our split pea sensory bin.


        Sand is one way to create a simple sensory bin.  A few ingredients is all it takes to make the sand into sand dough link in this sand dough beach sensory bin from Crayon Box Chronicles.


        Water Beads can be found in the floral section of many stores.  The non-toxic material makes a great base for sensory play.  We had a blast with our purple sensory bin.


        Jello is such an interesting material to eat…and to play with!  The texture is perfect for sensory exploration.  Crayon Box Chronicles used it to create this jello iceberg sensory bin.

        What are your favorite sensory bin fillers?


        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.