Butterfly exercises

butterfly yoga exercises

This week’s occupational therapy theme is all about the butterfly activities. And, these butterfly exercises help with coordination, motor panning, coordination, and add heavy work input. You’ll love the butterfly yoga activities that are fun, motivating, and engaging! Add these butterfly gross motor exercises to your Spring occupational therapy activities.

butterfly yoga exercises

In this free slide deck, you’ll love the heavy work and gross motor coordination activities with a butterfly theme. Butterfly exercises get those kiddos moving and building coordination skills so they can move, play, and develop skills.

Butterfly exercises

Kids will love these gross motor exercises that challenge the following skills in kids:

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Motor planning
  • Crossing midline
  • Movement changes
  • Sequencing

When kids follow along with the visual images in the slides, they can work on planning out gross motor actions, crossing midline, and building core strength that helps with attention, following directions, and getting much needed proprioceptive and vestibular sensory input.

These are fantastic butterfly gross motor activities for preschool, Pre-K and grade-school kids as a brain break that builds gross motor skills.

Butterfly yoga

In the slide deck are butterfly yoga positions to challenge balance and build strength. These exercises use a variety of yoga positions with a butterfly theme. Some of the activities use the butterfly yoga pose and others have visual images of a butterfly net or other images to make the yoga exercises motivating and fun for kids.

Can they balance on one foot while pretending to catch a butterfly with their net?

Butterfly gross motor activities

You’ll also love the deep breathing exercise in the slide deck to encourage deep breathing. Try using this deep breathing exercise while doing the butterfly yoga!

MORE BUTTERFLY ACTIVITIES

Use the butterfly life cycle heavy work activities in the Heavy Work Cards to work on calming proprioceptive input.

Butterfly Exercises Slide Deck

Want to add these butterfly yoga and butterfly exercises to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below to access this slide deck.

Note that if you are using a school system’s email address, the PDF delivery may be blocked by your institution or workplace as a result of your system’s security measures. A personal email address may be better used.

Butterfly Exercises Slide Deck!

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    Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Flower Balance Activities

    Flower balance activities

    Want to help kids with balance, coordination, strength, and mobility? Need some core strengthening and stability activities to help with balance and vestibular integration? These flower balance activities are fun ways to help kids work on these very areas so they are able to move, play, learn, and function in day to day tasks. And, it’s all packaged up in a free Google slide deck so you can use these balance exercises in therapy sessions, at home, in the classroom, or clinic. These are Spring gross motor activities that really build skills!

    Balance activities slide deck with a flower theme to use in teletherapy sessions.

    Balance Activities

    You’ll find a lot of balance activities and exercises here on The OT Toolbox. We’ve shared balance beams, obstacle courses, brain breaks, prone extension activities, movement activities, and vestibular activities before. you may have even seen this DIY wobble disk made from ice. All of these activities are so great to help kids develop strength, coordination, movement pattern skills, and get them moving through play.

    Core strengthening is just one benefit of these balance activities kids can copy. We’ve talked before about core strength and it’s relationship to handwriting and other functional tasks.

    Flower balance activities for kids

    The free slide deck that I have available today, adds just one more balance tool into your therapy toolbox. It’s a fun way to challenge kids to move while copying visual images of body positioning. These exercises integrate visual processing to see the image and copy the positioning as well as motor skills as kids coordinate their body to move their arms or legs into the correct positioning.

    I’ve tried to use both sides of the body in this flower balance activity, so they can work on left-right discrimination as well.

    Flower balance activities

    When kids incorporate one leg stance, and holding a body position in a squat or lunge, they are adding proprioceptive input, so they gain the calming regulatory benefits, too.

    Flower balance exercises

    And, the therapy slide decks use a flower icon in various positions on each slide. So the user can copy the form by placing a pillow, stuffed animal, roll of socks, or bean bag into different places while maintaining balance. This can be a real challenge for some children!

    Flower deep breathing exercise

    There is a fun flower deep breathing exercise in the slide deck as well.

    Free Balance Exercise Slide Deck

    Want to use this free slide deck in teletherapy, in home programs, or in the classroom as a brain break? Just enter your email address into the form below.

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

    Flower Balance Activities Slide Deck!

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      Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Free Heavy Work Activities Cards

      Heavy work activity cards Spring themed gross motor tasks

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

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

      Heavy Work Activities

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

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

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

      Functional Heavy Work

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

      Other heavy work tasks can integrate these senses as well.

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

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

      Heavy Work and Gross Motor Skills

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

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

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

      Free Heavy Work Activity Cards

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

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

      FREE Spring Heavy Work Cards

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        More heavy work brain breaks and Spring activities

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

        Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Gross Motor Toys

        Gross motor toys

        Kids need gross motor movement for so many skills. Today, I have gross motor toys to share! Here, you’ll find the best whole body toys and ideas to help kids with balance, core strength, stability, coordination, and endurance. Scroll on to check out some therapist-approved toys that help gross motor skill development!

        Gross motor toys to help kids develop skills in running, hopping, jumping, skipping, crawling, and more.

        Gross Motor Toys

        This list of toys for gross motor skills pairs well with our recent list of Fine Motor Toys. Today however, you’ll find toys that develop a few areas that are essential to areas of child development:

        Bilateral Coordination– Kids need bilateral coordination in whole body movements to move their body in a coordinated way. These whole body movements can include coordination of the upper and lower body, or both arms, or both feet, and all of the above! Here are bilateral coordination toys to address this specific area.

        Motor Planning– Motor planning with the whole body allows children to move in a room without crashing into objects or other people. Gross motor motor planning allows children to climb steps, navigate obstacles, or any movement-based task. Here is more information on motor planning and motor planning toys to address this specific sub-area.

        Gross motor coordinationCoordination of gross motor skills is needed for tasks such as kicking or catching a ball, riding a bike, getting dressed, or any task that uses the entire body. Here are hand eye coordination toys to address this particular sub-area.

        Proprioception– Integration of proprioceptive input allows children to know where their body is in space. It tells the body how much effort is needed to pick up and move objects. Proprioception allows us to understand the body’s position as it moves in a coordinated manner.

        Vestibular input- Integration of vestibular input allows children to navigate the world around them as they move. Going up or down steps or bleachers is an example of this. Moving into different positions during tasks is another example of vestibular integration. Movement through different planes requires integration of vestibular input.

        All of these areas work together in functional tasks and all are rooted in gross motor skills.

        Related: This dinosaur gross motor game is a skill builder, as well.

        Toys for Gross Motor Skill Development

        So often, therapists and teachers purchase items to use in their work using their own money. This giveaway offers a chance for you to win an item that will be useful in helping kids thrive.

        And, given that kids are on screens more than ever before with all of the virtual learning and hybrid learning models being incorporated all over the world, therapists are seeing more need for active, physical play.

        These are gross motor toys that you will find in therapy clinics. There is a reason why…because they are gross motor powerhouses! So, if you are looking for toy recommendations that build whole body motor skills, this is it!

        Amazon affiliate links are included below. You can read more about these items by checking out the links.

        Zoom ball is a great gross motor toy for kids.

        Zoom Ball– This classic toy is such a great way to work on many skills. A zoom ball can be used in different positions to challenge balance and vestibular input: Try using the zoom ball in sitting, standing, kneeling, standing on couch cushions, a slant…again, the options are limitless! Address skills such as:

        • Bilateral coordination
        • Core strength
        • Shoulder stability
        • Visual convergence
        • Motor planning
        • Coordination
        Pop and catch toys can help kids develop gross motor skills.

        Pop and Catch- Use this coordination toy indoors or outdoors to get kids moving. This toy can be played with while the child is standing, sitting, kneeling, or in a half-sit to challenge the core and eye-hand coordination in a variety of planes. Try playing on all fours on the floor for a shoulder girdle stability activity. Another use for this toy is by playing by standing at a table while the child shoots the ball across the table surface as they play like a ping-pong type of game. There are many uses for this pop and catch activity:

        • Eye-hand coordination
        • Motor planning
        • Vestibular input
        • Core strength
        • Stability of core
        • Stability of shoulder girdle
        use bucket stilts to help kids develop gross motor skills.

        Bucket Stilts– These bucket stilts are perfect for helping kids develop gross motor skills. I love this set because there are 6 colored buckets that make a great gross motor obstacle course tool, too. You could use them as stepping stones to challenge balance and coordination, too. Here are gross motor skills that you can work on using these bucket stilts toys:

        • Core strength
        • Vestibular input
        • Motor planning
        • Coordination
        • Balance
        • Endurance
        • Stabilizing
        use agility cones to help kids build gross motor skills in obstacle courses and more.

        Agility Cones– Sports cones are such an open-ended gross motor toy that can be used to develop so many skills: hopping, jumping, skipping, running, climbing, crawling…the options are endless. Use these agility cones in obstacle courses, challenges, drills, and more. I chose these particular cones because they can go very nicely with a Zones of Regulation activity! Use cones to support these areas:

        • Motor planning
        • Vestibular input
        • Coordination
        • Core strength
        • Endurance
        Use carpet markers to build gross motor skills with gross motor obstacle courses, motor planning, and more.

        Carpet Markers– These carpet markers are an occupational therapist’s dream toy! Use the colored marker spots to help kids work on so many movement skills in obstacle courses, visual perceptual skill activities, direction following, sensory movement breaks, positioning guides, and so much more. The arrows are perfect for addressing directionality. Use them to work on crawling, hopping, jumping, stopping on a point. Just some of the areas that these carpet spots support:

        • Core strength
        • Shoulder stability
        • Motor planning
        • Coordination
        • Endurance
        • Proprioception
        A parachute is a great gross motor toy for kids.

        Parachute– A parachute is another open-ended gross motor toy that the kids just LOVE. This one is small enough for small groups, but builds motor skills in a big way. Use the parachute to help kids develop:

        • Core stability
        • Arm strength
        • Motor planning
        • Endurance
        • Bilateral coordination
        • Proprioceptive input

        Gross Motor Toys

        Want to add these toys to your home, classroom, or therapy practice? I am SO happy to fill your toolbox so you can help kids thrive and build and develop the skills they need!

        Check out the blog comments below to see tips and ideas from readers telling us which gross motor toys they would love to use with the kids they work with and love. Have other gross motor favorites that aren’t listed here? Tell us about them!

        Be sure to check out the winners from this giveaway in our annual Therapy Tools and Toys Giveaway series!

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

        Outdoor Sensory Swing

        Taking sensory diet activities and other sensory play activities into the outdoors is as easy as walking outside! There are so many opportunities for outdoor sensory experiences using the world around us. Add a few key components like water, chalk, playground equipment, toys, and tools and you’ve got a sensory gym right in your backyard. While we’ve shared a lot of outdoor sensory diet activities here on The OT Toolbox, there are so many sensory experiences that are just plain fun right outside. Today, we’re talking about taking the sensory processing experiences up a notch using an outdoor sensory swing!F
        We were lucky to try out the Harkla Sensory Pod Swing, and it has been a huge hit with my own children. The Occupational Therapist in me can’t help but see how awesome this sensory swing is for addressing sensory needs right in the home…and in the backyard!
        Use an outdoor sensory swing for the ultimate sensory experience for kids with sensory processing needs, self-regulation challenges, attention, and more.

        Add an Outdoor Sensory Swing to your Child’s Sensory Diet

        Sensory diets play a huge part in the lives of so many children. Kids with sensory processing needs, attention issues, self-regulation challenges, and other areas. Read more about the goals of a sensory diet looks like in kids and how a tool like a sensory swing can play a part in addressing sensory needs.
        In fact, there is much research on outdoor sensory play. The fact is, research shows us that some of the developmental and primary tasks that children must achieve can be effectively improved through outdoor play. These include: exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development, absorption of basic knowledge, social skills, self-confidence, attention, language skills, among others. 

        So knowing the benefits of being outdoors when it comes to addressing sensory needs, taking the sensory tools used in a sensory diet outdoors can be the obvious next step. 

        Use an outdoor sensory swing like the Harkla pod swing for calming sensory input when outside.

        Why take a sensory swing outdoors? 

        The outdoors offers so much to our senses naturally. Sights, sounds, tactile experiences, and even air pressure can have a bountiful sensory impact! 

        A bright day can be alerting to the child who struggles with alertness. A warm and sunny day can have a calming effect.

        A slight breeze can offer a brush with the nerve endings on the skin, alerting the child. It can be a calming change from indoor air.

        The feel of grass on a child’s toes can bring awareness and body perception. 

        Background noises can be an opportunity to develop auditory processing skills. In fact, there are many ways to address auditory processing needs through backyard auditory processing activities

        Ambulating to a sensory swing area is an opportunity to address balance and stability in a natural and functional environment. 

        Swinging provides an opportunity for improved body awareness as a child learns how their body moves and responds to movement. Taking an indoor sensory swing into the outdoors provides a change in routine that can “wake up” the child’s awareness about certain movements. 

        The outdoors offers a vast tactile playbox! From the feel of a tree’s bark to pebbles and stones, playing outside combined with needed sensory input a sensory swing offers can promote skills like fine motor strength, precision and graded grasp, separation of the sides of the hand, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, balance, endurance, core stability and strength, and so many other skill areas! 

        Use this outdoor sensory swing for outdoor calming sensory input in kids with sensory processing needs.

        Outdoor Sensory Swing 

        When we received our Harkla pod sensory swing, the kids were eager to put it up in our home. After some time waiting for this to actually happen, because as we adults know, making changes to the home can sometimes take longer than expected, we finally decided to try it out in the outdoors. 

        We took the sensory pod swing and the attachment components to a large tree in our backyard. After a quick installment, it was clear that the outdoor sensory swing was a success. 

        Use a sensory swing outside as part of a sensory diet for calming sensory input.

        What a calming experience this was! 

        For the mom of four kids, it can be overwhelming during summer days when the kids are free from routine. All four of the kids swung in the Harkla sensory pod swing and were noticeably more calm and relaxed. 

        The enclosed pod provides a calming nook where kids can relax or calm down. 

        For the child with sensory needs who thrives after use of a sensory swing in therapy, taking the sensory swing outdoors can be a beneficial and therapeutic experience. 

        I love that the swing can be used indoors or outdoors. Simple attachment mechanisms make this swing easy to install. The adjustable strap allow the swing to be attached at a preferred height for safety. 

        Use a sensory swing to help kids calm down and organize sensory input for improved self-regulation with an outdoor sensory swing.

        Since using the pod swing outdoors, we’ve used the swing several times outside on our big, shady tree. My older kids use the pod swing as a cozy reading nook. What a way to work on that summer reading list!

        I did bring the swing in after we used it, just so it wouldn’t get soaked in the next summer rainstorm. Putting it back up was easy, using the installment belt and clip. 

        For those without a tree branch that would hold kids, a regular swing set can be an optimal placement for the sensory swing. Simply pull the regular swings to the side or remove the chains and attach the sensory pod using the belt and clip.
        If you are interested in purchasing a harkla Sensory Pod Swing, check out the Harkla website. The price on the sensory pod swing is great for those looking for a sensory swing that can fit within a budget. 

        As a therapist whose seen many therapy equiptment catalogues, this is a great price! There is a coupon on the website for saving 10% on your first purchase, along with free shipping in the US.

        We will be using this outdoor sensory pod swing all summer and installing the swing indoors, too. When the swing is not in use, just unclip the belt!



        Harkla sensory pod swing is great for calming sensory input at home.

        Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat children with sensory needs, or other areas. Using a sensory swing can have a wide variety of responses on children. Also, recognize that every outdoor experience is different for each child as the environment is different in each experience. Consult your child’s occupational therapist for individualized recommendations. The OT Toolbox provides educational information only and is not responsible for any issues. Reading information found on this website acknowledges your consent to this disclaimer.

        This post contains affiliate links.

        Disclosure: We received a Harkla pod swing but all opinions are our own.

        How to Create a Sensory Diet

        If you have been following along here on The OT Toolbox recently, then you may have seen some of our recent sensory diet resources. We’ve shared a lot of information about creating a sensory diet. There is a valid reason. Besides the growing need for sensory support for kids with sensory processing disorder or sensory challenges, there is a real need for parents and teachers to understand exactly what a sensory diet is and how it can help address sensory needs.  




        The tips below are strategies for creating a sensory diet that can be effective and helpful in enabling a successful sensory lifestyle. Understanding how does a sensory diet help is many times, the first step in addressing sensory related needs!


        Whether you are wondering exactly what a sensory diet entails or why a sensory diet can be effective in addressing underlying sensory needs, knowing how to create a sensory diet using the tools a child needs is essential. 



        Below, you’ll find answers to questions about how to create a sensory diet and what exactly a sensory diet is. If you are wondering how does a sensory diet work, then read on! 




        Wondering how to create a sensory diet? Use these steps to create a sensory diet for children with sensory needs that result in meltdowns, attention challenges, struggles with regulation, and other sensory processing related difficulties. Perfect for the occupational therapist who works with kids with sensory needs.



        Sidenote: Over the last week as we’ve led up to the release of The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, we’ve shared some amazing free resources. You can still grab those tools below. They are just a sample of the type of tips and tactics found in The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook. These are a great starting point for knowing how to start a sensory diet.


        Get your free sensory resources here:

        Free Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and Challenges
        Free Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit
        Free Attention and Sensory Workbook


        What is a sensory diet? 

        First, it can be helpful to explain exactly what a sensory diet is. A sensory diet is a specific set of sensory activities designed to meet specific needs of the individual. Creation of a sensory diet requires assessment and trial followed by analysis and continued monitoring of strategies and their effectiveness. 

        Studies support the use of active participation in multi-sensory activities for at least 90 minutes per week to improve occupational performance and autism symptoms and behaviors (Fazlioglu & Baran, 2008; Thompson, 2011; Woo & Leon, 2013; Wuang, Wang, Huang, & Su 2010).

        Children who have a toolbox of sensory activities available to them for daily use may benefit from prescribed sensory activities. A sensory-based strategy guide can help.

        Sensory diets are a commonly known strategy for addressing sensory needs. The term “sensory diet” was coined by Patricia Wilbarger in 1984 to explain how certain sensory experiences can improve occupational performance and help to remediate disruption of the sensory processing systems. A sensory diet is a means to adjust sensory input in relation to an individual’s needs.

        A sensory diet is a meaningful set of strategies for developing sensory programs that are practical, carefully scheduled, and controlled in order to affect functioning. Sensory diet activities provide appropriate sensory input based on the needs of an individual.

        Just as a healthy diet consists of a variety of foods, a sensory diet is a balanced set of sensory information that allows an individual to function. A person cannot survive on broccoli alone. Similarly, a child cannot function with only one type of sensory activities.


        Wondering how to create a sensory diet? Use these steps to create a sensory diet for children with sensory needs that result in meltdowns, attention challenges, struggles with regulation, and other sensory processing related difficulties. Perfect for the occupational therapist who works with kids with sensory needs.



        Why use a sensory diet?


        Sensory diets are effective for addressing many sensory-related behaviors. Just a few reasons for using a sensory diet may include:

        Emotional overreaction
        Meltdowns
        Aggression
        Hyper-attention
        Difficulty with transitions
        Inattention
        Sleep issues
        Impulsivity
        Sensory-seeking behaviors
        Sensory-resisting behaviors
        Resistance to textures/food/clothing
        Poor social Interactions


        Wondering how to create a sensory diet? Use these steps to create a sensory diet for children with sensory needs that result in meltdowns, attention challenges, struggles with regulation, and other sensory processing related difficulties. Perfect for the occupational therapist who works with kids with sensory needs.



        How to create a sensory diet


        There is more to a sensory diet than applying sensory input or encouraging a child to participate in sensory play activities. Knowing how and why a sensory diet should be created is essential to success, safety, and carryover of sensory strategies.

        As individuals, we tend to choose activities and experiences that are pleasurable. We enjoy snuggling up under a thick blanket at the end of the day. We tend to shy away from unpleasant sensations such as a static shock that happens every time we use that certain blanket.

        Likewise, some of us are thrill seekers and enjoy experiences like jumping from airplanes or bungee jumping. Others like to stay firmly on the ground and play it safe when it comes to leisure activities.

        Similarly, our clients or children who struggle with sensory processing can present with different preferences, as discussed in The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

        Steps to Create a Sensory Diet


        The key to successful integration of a sensory diet is ensuring the clinical strategizing and application are fit into the specific needs of the individual. However, combining the needs of an individual with interests and preference along with application of specific steps ensures successful creation of a sensory diet.

        Analyze/Identify

        Strategize

        Apply


        Monitor

        Step 1: Analyze/Identify- The first level in creation of a sensory diet requires identification of sensory related behaviors, attention issues related to impaired sensory input, challenges with focus or emotional regulation as a result of sensory needs, or meltdowns that impair functioning.

        This level of sensory diet creation requires assessment and identification of each challenging issue. Sensory behaviors should be identified and charted. This includes jotting down when specific behaviors occur, the setting where meltdowns occur, and antecedent to the behavior.

        Sensory related issues can be charted in a methodological manner or they can simply be written down on a scrap paper. The point is to identify the issues through analyzation and to record them.

        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook contains printable data collection forms that can be used to analyze and identify sensory-related actions, behaviors, and resulting issues.

        Step 2: Strategize/Reasoning- The next level in creating a sensory diet involves identifying the “why” behind the behaviors. Is it an unmet sensory need that causes a child to bolt down the hallway? Is the reason the child chews on all of their clothes because they need more proprioceptive input?

        After dysfunctional behaviors are identified, the reason behind the behaviors should be described.

        In The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, you will find printable sensory-based behavior screening tools that can be used to identify the underlying sensory needs leading to a behavior or action. Additionally, resources in the book allow for strategizing to address existing sensory challenges for an individual. The best part is that the pages can be printed off and used over and over again for a single individual or for many individuals. 


        Step 3: Apply/Trial Various Sensory Strategies- In this stage of sensory diet development, strategies need to be trialed for effectiveness within the lifestyle of the child and family. Sensory strategies need to be incorporated as indicated across a variety of settings, based on various sensory needs as they change throughout the day.

        Each strategy should be assessed for effectiveness. A simple checklist can be completed in the classroom or at home. When a sensory strategy is determined to work, that activity can be added to the child’s sensory diet.

        If a particular sensory activity is determined to be ineffective, return to level one.

        As adults who work with or raise children, we know the fluidity of childhood. Needs, strengths, interests, environment, and other areas can change as a child develops and grows. In the same manner, a sensory diet needs fluidity. Applying various strategies at different levels of growth in a child is a must.

        Readers of The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook will find the Sensory Diet Schedule in the Addendum of the book to be a useful tool in creating a checklist for sensory diet activities. This is another series of printable pages that can be utilized over and over again as needed.

        Step 4: Monitor- At this stage in development of a sensory diet, strategies should be monitored for effectiveness. Strategies should be monitored on a frequent basis with regard to effectiveness. As part of the monitoring process, a subjective assessment can be completed by adults who oversee the child’s sensory diet strategies.

        Additionally, carryover of sensory strategies must be monitored. A list of prescribed activities that are not completed because they require exhaustive effort are not an effective strategy within the life of a family.

        Carryover of sensory strategies is extremely important in both the home and in the classroom. If activities are not able to be carried out, then a different sensory strategy should be incorporated into the child’s sensory diet.

        When using The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook to create and monitor sensory diets, users will find the Daily Sensory Diet Sheet and the Sensory Diet Schedule to be effective tools for carryover and monitoring strategies.

        Use the Sensory Diet Effectiveness Tool, found in the Addendum of this book, to monitor sensory diet results and strategies. This form should be completed after a sensory diet has been in effect for two weeks. 


        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, a book on how to create sensory diets

        If creating a sensory diet and turning it into a sensory lifestyle sounds like a strategy that is needed in your home, classroom, or clinic, then The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a tool that you may need to get there! Check out more on The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook HERE. 


        Wondering how to create a sensory diet? Use these steps to create a sensory diet for children with sensory needs that result in meltdowns, attention challenges, struggles with regulation, and other sensory processing related difficulties. Perfect for the occupational therapist who works with kids with sensory needs.

        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a strategy guide for sensory processing needs. With valuable insight into the sensory system and the whole child, the book details how sensory diets can be incorporated into a lifestyle of sensory success. 



        The tools in this book provide intervention strategies to support and challenge the sensory systems through meaningful and authentic sensory diet tactics based on the environment, interests, and sensory needs of each individual child. 

        Wondering how to create a sensory diet? Use these steps to create a sensory diet for children with sensory needs that result in meltdowns, attention challenges, struggles with regulation, and other sensory processing related difficulties. Perfect for the occupational therapist who works with kids with sensory needs.

        So often, we hear that sensory recommendations are not carried over into the home or classroom. The tips and tools in The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook uses child-led interests and daily life interactions so kids WANT to participate in sensory diet activities their bodies need…because it’s part of play!
        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a resource for creating sensory diets and turning them into a lifestyle of sensory success through meaningful and motivating sensory enrichment.

        Sensory Diet Activities at the Playground

        The outdoors is a goldmine for play! Kids can be creative, build healthy bodies, and develop the skills that they NEED through playing outdoors. For the child who requires a sensory diet, the outdoors is a goldmine for acquiring the right kind of sensory input. The activities below are those sensory diet activities that can be accomplished through play at the playground. 



        Playground sensory diet activities that kids can use for sensory needs, perfect for occupational therapists who are creating sensory diets for kids with sensory processing needs.



        A while back, we shared information about sensory processing at the playground and sensory input that can be provided at the playground. Today, we wanted to share a few quick lists for sensory diet activities that can be implemented at an outdoor (or indoor) playground or play area. 


        These are sensory diet activities that an occupational therapist can prescribe based on evaluation of a child’s specific sensory needs. Use the playground sensory diet activities listed below as part of a list of specific activities and sensory tools that meet certain sensory processing needs or a home program for children with sensory processing challenges. 


        There is a lot of research on playing outdoors and about the benefits of just playing outside! 


        Disclaimer: When therapists develop a specific and highly individualized sensory diet, it’s not just throwing together a day filled with sensory input. A sensory diet  is a specific set of sensory tools used to meet and address certain needs of the individual based on sensory need and strategizing. Each of the sensory diet activities above should meet specific needs of the child. Every child is different so applying sensory input to one child may look very different than that of another. Parents should use the tactics below along with your child’s occupational therapist.




        Playground Sensory Diet Activities



        Climb the slide
        Swing on the swings (side to side, forward-back, twist, superman fly, or even upside down!)
        Go down the slide (forward, backwards, on belly, on back)
        Roll a ball up the slide and catch it before it hits the cround
        Ramps
        Balance beams
        Monkey bars
        Rope equiptment
        Elevated surfaces
        Uneven surfaces
        Sound tubes and equipment
        Teeter totters or bouncy equipment
        Merry go rounds or spinning equipment
        Climbing walls
        Sandbox play
        Playground scavenger hunt
        Tunnels (Crawl through, army crawl through)
        Playground “I Spy”
        Bouncing a ball against a wall
        Textured sensory scavenger hunt
        Climbing surfaces


        Accommodations for addressing sensory needs in the backyard

        For kids with sensory needs, it can be overwhelming on a playground with running children, background noises, or other sensory input. Try these accommodations for addressing sensory needs in backyard play:

        Proprioceptive input such as firm touch to the shoulders



        Calming vestibular sensory input such as side to side or forward-front slow swinging


        Throw and play catch with a weighted ball 

        Baby wipes to clean hands if child is sensitive to messy hands or dirt
        Sheltered area if child is sensitive to wind blowing on skin
        Wear a lightweight wind jacket
        Hat with brim to reduce bright light or intense light in eyes or on face
        Sunscreen with firm touch before going outdoors
        Wear sunglasses
        Wear headphones to reduce background noise
        Sports bottle with straw
        Calming, chewy snacks


        More about outdoor sensory diet activities


        Sensory diets and specific sensory input or sensory challenges are a big part of addressing sensory needs of children who struggle with sensory processing issues. Incorporating a schedule of sensory input (sensory diet) into a lifestyle of naturally occuring and meaningful activities is so very valuable for the child with sensory needs. 


        That’s why I’ve worked to create a book on creating an authentic and meaningful sensory lifestyle that addresses sensory needs. The book is now released as a digital e-book or softcover print book, available on Amazon. 


        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory diet creation, set-up, and carry through. Not only that, but the book helps you take a sensory diet and weave it into a sensory lifestyle that supports the needs of a child with sensory processing challenges and the whole family.

        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a resource for creating sensory diets and turning them into a lifestyle of sensory success through meaningful and motivating sensory enrichment.

        What is a sensory diet?

        Many times, parents are told that their child with sensory needs would benefit from a sensory diet. Most of the time, they respond with “what is a sensory diet?!” In this article, we’ll be talking a bit about what a sensory diet is and how it can be beneficial to kids with sensory needs. You may have seen some of our recent posts here on The OT Toolbox about Sensory diet activities for the classroom or sensory diet activities for outdoors that may give you a better understanding of some of the sensory activities that can be used within a sensory diet. 




        Wondering what a sensory diet is? This article explains what exactly a sensory diet looks like and how a sensory diet is used to help kids with a variety of sensory-related challenges, using sensory diet activities.

        Wondering what a sensory diet actually is? Check out this video we’ve shared on Facebook. Sound familiar?


        What is a sensory diet?



        Often times, when you mention the term “sensory diet”, individuals respond with a comment about food or a eating healthier. A sensory diet has nothing to do with food or restricting foods, or eating healthier!  

        A sensory diet can be described this way: 


        A sensory diet is a set of activities
        that make up a sensory strategy and are appropriate for an individual’s
        needs.  These are specific and
        individualized activities that are scheduled into a child’s day and are used to
        assist with regulation of activity levels, attention, and adaptive
        responses.  Sensory diet activities are
        prescribed based on the individual’s specific sensory needs.   Just as there are no two people that are
        alike, there are no two sensory diets that are alike. 

        Sensory diets are a commonly known
        strategy for addressing sensory needs. 
        The term “sensory diet” was coined by Patricia Wilbarger in 1984 to
        explain how certain sensory experiences can improve occupational performance
        and help to remediate disruption of the sensory processing systems.  A sensory diet is a means to adjust sensory
        input in relation to an individual’s needs. A sensory diet is a meaningful set
        of strategies for developing sensory programs that are practical, carefully
        scheduled, and controlled in order to affect functioning. 

        Sensory diet activities provide appropriate
        sensory input based on the needs of an individual.  Just as a healthy diet consists of a variety
        of foods, a sensory diet is a balanced set of sensory information that allows
        an individual to function.  A person
        cannot survive on broccoli alone. 
        Similarly, a child cannot function with only one type of sensory
        activities.

        Sensory diets are not just for kids
        with identified sensory issues.  We all
        need a diet of sensory input.  Most
        people naturally participate in conscious or subconscious acts that meet their
        specific needs.  

        Think about the student who
        taps their pen against the desk while struggling on an exam.  That’s a sensory strategy.

        You might pace the floor while on the
        phone with your child’s pediatrician.  That’s a sensory strategy.

        You might see a teenager who jiggles her leg while watching a movie.  That’s a sensory strategy. 

        We all have a big yawn every once in a while. That’s a sensory strategy. 

        Our bodies and minds instinctively know that
        varying sensory input allows us to function appropriately.  Neurotypical children naturally seek out a
        variety of proprioceptive, vestibular, and tactile sensory input.  As a result, they are able to accept and
        regulate other sensory input such as a seam in their shirt, a lawnmower running
        outside their classroom, or the scent of chicken cooking in the kitchen. Some
        individuals lack the ability or support to perform these sensory strategies
        without interventions. 

        We’ve talked about the goals of a sensory diet before here on The OT Toolbox. The goals of a sensory diet are very important. 

        Equally important is the development of sensory diets. A sensory diet needs to be specific with
        thoughtful regard to timing, frequency, intensity, and duration of sensory
        input.
        Sensory diets should be created by an occupational therapist who evaluates the child or individual and ensures carryover, and response to sensory input.

        These vestibular sensory diet activities can give you an idea of the type of activities typically found in a sensory diet…remembering that each child’s sensory diet is specific to their needs. 

        Wondering what a sensory diet is? This article explains what exactly a sensory diet looks like and how a sensory diet is used to help kids with a variety of sensory-related challenges, using sensory diet activities.

        Why use a sensory diet?


        Sensory diets can be used to address the following challenges, using specific sensory input:
        Emotional overreaction
        Meltdowns
        Aggression
        Hyper-attention
        Difficulty with transitions
        Inattention
        Sleep issues
        Impulsivity
        Sensory-seeking behaviors
        Sensory-resisting behaviors
        Resistance to textures/food/clothing

        Poor social Interactions 

        If you are interested in learning more about sensory diets and how they can be used to create a sensory-enriched life in all aspects of a child and family’s day, you will want to watch for The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.


        You may also want to join the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook VIP List so you can learn more about the book and be the first to know about updates related to the book. There are also a few free resources for members of the Sensory Lifestyle VIP List, so join us today!

        Sensory diets and specific sensory input or sensory challenges are a big part of addressing sensory needs of children who struggle with sensory processing issues. Incorporating a schedule of sensory input (sensory diet) into a lifestyle of naturally occuring and meaningful activities is so very valuable for the child with sensory needs. 

        That’s why I’ve worked to create a book on creating an authentic and meaningful sensory lifestyle that addresses sensory needs. The book is now released as a digital e-book or softcover print book, available on Amazon. 

        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory diet creation, set-up, and carry through. Not only that, but the book helps you take a sensory diet and weave it into a sensory lifestyle that supports the needs of a child with sensory processing challenges and the whole family.

        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a resource for creating sensory diets and turning them into a lifestyle of sensory success through meaningful and motivating sensory enrichment.


        Here are more sensory activities that may help with sensory needs or for a sensory play idea.

        Wondering what a sensory diet is? This article explains what exactly a sensory diet looks like and how a sensory diet is used to help kids with a variety of sensory-related challenges, using sensory diet activities.