While my family is (somewhat desperately) trying to find ways to slow and focus on the now during Christmas, the holiday season is also a bit on the chaotic side. (Yeah.)
With additional extended family gatherings and special events, you might encounter challenging situations and people who don’t understand your child’s special needs or know how to react. Sometimes your child doesn’t know how to react to all the people, the stimulation, the new events and/or environments.
When your child is a sensory seeker, your daily routine might regularly include questions like, “Do you need to jump?”
“Go crash into the pillow.”
“Need to get your ankle weights on?”
And the ensuing activities.
So when you need to attend a fancy holiday gathering or you’re around folks who are unsure how to react to your child’s “rambunctious” behavior, how can you help your child fulfill his or her sensory needs?
We’ll be experimenting with this ourselves, but I’ve been compiling a list to be ready!
Holiday Activities for Sensory Seekers
These ten activities are ones you can either complete in a small space, at a table, or in an extra room/hall away from the crowd (if you can find that). All these activities incorporate multiple sensory options for your sensory seeker:
- Sensory bins – Sensory bins provide a sit-down activity while still offering sensory input. You can put together a sensory bin for just about any theme. We love using our seasonal sensory bins (read those posts here). Pick a base (like dried beans, uncooked pasta/rice, seeds, etc.) and then add fun objects of varying sizes, textures, colors, and uses. The photo above provides a sneak peek at our winter sensory bin! I’ll be posting more about it and what activities we do with it soon! (Here’s a post I just found on sensory bins to travel or give as gifts.)
- Stickers – Most kids love to put stickers on drawings and crafts. My sensory seeker loves to stick stickers on himself! He presses stickers on and peels them off his face, arms, hands, etc. for the sensory input. (It helps so much when he begins to have a fit that I keep stashes of stickers in my bag and the car!) I wrote a post with 7+ sticker activities for more structured ideas, too.
- Balance board – We’ve been using a balance board in one of my son’s therapies for months. You can make your own balance board or purchase one online. (We recently got this one on one of Amazon’s December deals, and it’s already been a useful purchase!) If you have a small balance board, you might even be able to carry it with you to another (understanding) person’s house and place it in a quieter room or off to the side for when your child needs some vestibular input.
- Bubbles – Bubbles offer a distraction, sticky spheres to pop, and an opportunity to practice air flow control (bonus practice for special needs!). While you might not be able to pull out a container of bubbles in a fancy restaurant, this can be a good option at home gatherings and long car rides.
- Back massage – This may or may not help your child. My son loves back rubs at certain times of the day, but rejects them at others. You can gauge whether your child needs deeper input or not by her reaction.
- Something weighted – A friend made us an awesome rice sock recently. We can place it over my son’s shoulders for weighted input when he’s seeking. We also use ankle weights occasionally (which he loves!).
- Something to squeeze – A rice sock, a stuffed animal, a rubber ball, your hand—anything safe for you to give your child input when he or she needs it most.
- Christmas Oobleck – If you’re in your home where it’s okay to get messy, but you want a seated activity for your child to stay in the same room (or nearby) to be present with company, try oobleck! The base recipe is two parts cornstarch and one part water, and it’s a sensory-lover’s dream! You can make it Christmas-y by adding cinnamon, green coloring, nutmeg, etc. While it is messy, oobleck is easily cleaned up with warm water and a rag.
- Playdough – Playdough is another helpful sit-down sensory option. It can be a quiet activity, and maybe some your friends and relatives will join in on the fun! Homemade playdough is quick to make and lasts 4-8 weeks (stored in an airtight container). My favorite recipe is this one from Life as Mom. Allow your child to squeeze, pound, poke, and shape the playdough for strong input. You can even take a small portion in a small container to a restaurant. Playdough would engage my sensory seeker in his seat better and longer than crayons usually do!
- Jumping activities – When it’s necessary, it’s necessary. Just find a space to jump, jump, jump! Or, get the whole family involved in some fun jumping games. Ten or fifteen minutes of jumping activities might help fill your child’s sensory needs for a 30-minute time period or more (depending on your child’s needs).
*If you’re looking for a bonus Christmas-y activity just to do at home (where mess and noise is okay!), try this jingle bell painting activity from Happily Ever Mom!
What would you add? What activities help your sensory seeker? How do you help explain your child’s needs to people who might not understand sensory needs aren’t just misbehaviors?
This post was featured at Teaching Mama!
This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up, Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner, Tuesday Tots, Toddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party, the Weekly Kids Co-op, Show and Share Saturday, Free Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party, and Link & Learn.