Last year I released a huge "sensory diet activity reference sheet" with over one hundred sensory diet activities listed. This reference sheet was designed to provide therapists, teachers and parents with a resource to try a range of activities with their child to help them to regulate their bodies, when working out an appropriate sensory diet in their regular environments. Read more about sensory diets here.
Since writing this reference sheet, I have been working with children who have insight with their own bodies and feelings. These kids can work through questions such as "How do you feel after you jump on the trampoline? Do you feel more relaxed or more alert?" I have also been working through the social skills program Zones of Regulation with these kids. "The Zones is a systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones".
The ALERT program with the accompanying book "How does your engine run?" is another self-regulation program which I have been using. You can read more about this program here.
I have found that I can combine both sensory activities with these programs to provide "tools" for these kids to help them to self regulate finding both activities which are "calming" and more "alerting". As a result, I have created a tool to help children identify "Activities for ME!" .
"Activities for ME! Sensory Activity Checklist for Kids" is a series of sensory based activities which are divided into categories labelled
Children are asked to draw an up arrow next to activities that make them more alert (or excited) and a down arrow next to activities that help them to feel calm (or more relaxed).
I would recommend that this tool is used in collaboration with an adult who is familiar with the child (eg. OT, parent, teacher). If an activity is unfamiliar, then it may be an opportunity to trial this activity over a period of time and find out the affect of participating in this activity has on your child. Not all activities will be relevant for all children. There are also blank spaces so that children (or relevant adult) may write in extra activities for each category.
Here is a preview of the "Activities for ME! Sensory Activity Checklist for Kids." tool.
After working through this tool with my students, I then cut up each activity strip and we group the activities into an "alerting" (exciting) pile and a "calming" (relaxing) pile. When using it in conjunction with the Zones, we then identify suitable activities to be used as "tools" for each coloured zone. The tool could also be kept in it's entirety as a reference. It would be interesting to use this tool with the same child after a period of time (eg. a year) to see if there are any changes.
As OTs (and parents/teachers) we can sometimes assume that certain activities will help our kids to relax and others will give them more energy. This assumption can sometimes backfire. If you think about it, as adults some of us will be more energised after a cup of tea and others will be more relaxed. The same could be said for a range of activities such as jogging, having a shower, playing an instrument, etc.
I designed this tool to meet a need of mine in therapy practice. If you know of a similar tool then I would love to hear from you. If you use my tool, I would love to hear your feedback too! "Activities for ME! Sensory Activity Checklist for Kids" can be found at the YKOT shop. Thanks for your support.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions.
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Spring just shouts "send the kids outside to play"! I am always looking for ways to foster imaginative pretend play so we created an imaginary play space in our backyard with a few items we found around our house and yard.
Whilst there is a place for construction play (eg. blocks, lego, etc), fine motor activities (eg. craft, beads, eye droppers, etc), gross motor activities (eg. skipping, hopping, jumping, etc), sensory play (eg. playdough, slime, water beads), structured games (eg. uno, board games, etc) ... imaginary pretend play is important for a broad range of child development.
"Pretend play is strongly linked to language, narrative language, abstract thought, problem solving, logical sequential thought, creation of stories, social competence with peers, understanding a social situation, integration of emotional, social and cognitive skills, and the ability to play with others in the role of a ‘player’." (Karen Stagnitti- Children need to play!) In my words, pretend play is important for school readiness with the development of skills for talking, listening, writing, reading as well as interaction with adults and other children. It provides a safe environment to explore and experiment with ideas and opinions.
Mr 5 and Miss almost-9 years helped me to create the imaginary play space. We used a section of the garden that is usually not "explored". I placed bricks as stepping stones around the trees and plants, then handed over to the kids to create the space with coloured stones (leftover from this project), chalk, craft sticks and stretchy lizards. Mr 5 also used his digger and spade to do some rearranging of the dirt and leaves.
Once the space was "created", Mr 5 and Miss almost-9 years set about playing in the space. The stretchy lizards became the characters living in their new "homes". There were lots of adventures over several days as they explored, found food, visited each other, played in their ponds, etc.
Lizards may not be popular with your kids...you could create homes for fairies, elves, dragons, dinosaurs, snakes or whatever may interest your child. If you don't have a patch of garden you could create a play space using a tray, a large plastic box, an old tyre, some empty garden pots or some old kitchen pans.
When Miss almost-9 yrs was younger we created a fairy garden in a tray, birds nests and "soups" collecting things around the garden to make these creations. Sometimes kids need just a little prompting to foster their imagination and play!
Do your kids like imaginary play? Have you created imaginary play spaces outdoors?
Apologies to slow replies to emails and comments. I'm going on vacation tomorrow for two weeks! I will pop up on FB now and again (because I can't help myself)!
Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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