The Winter Wiggles, Part 2: Sensory-Focused Activities for Your Child with Special Needs

Please note that while these ideas were created with kids in mind, people of all ages and abilities may find these activities beneficial!

Erica Jansen of Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Center in Bettendorf, Iowa, has been a pediatric occupational therapist for over 15 years. Her job is to help kids with their jobs! We were so excited when she offered to share some activities to complete during the long winter months to assist kids with activating their seven senses and also practice some self-regulation.

Indoor Snow

Kids can activate their touch system by making their own indoor snow. Use equal parts cornstarch (or conditioner) and baking soda, then add just enough water to form a ball. Squish it, make snowmen, make letters/shapes, cut it with safety scissors or cookie cutters. 

Tip: Try adding ground cinnamon, vanilla, or pumpkin pie spice for an added smell benefit! 

 Indoor Sleigh Ride

If you have wooden, vinyl, or tile floors and a blanket you can have some fun pulling each other around—supervised for safety, of course! This activates the proprioceptive, or muscle and joint centers, which is very important during the winter months. 

Tip: Put a heavier quilt on top of your kiddo’s lap while they are riding for some increased input.

 Snowball Fight

Crush up some paper from the recycling bin and have a snowball fight. Then, use snowball makers or two wooden kitchen spoons to pick up the mess before it melts! This works on bilateral integration, the use of the two sides of our bodies, as well as our eye-hand coordination. Of course if there is real snow, then suit up and head outside!

 Somersaults and Log Rolling

Often we forget about these easy ways to get our movement system some input. Find a safe spot in your home and roll head over heels or log roll. 

Tip: If movement is limited for your kiddo, help them roll side to side while singing their favorite song. 

 Music

The type of music we are listening to can really affect our mood and state. If you need the kids to settle down, try playing some classical music or lullaby songs. If you need to get some energy spent, try a dance party to your favorite tunes. 

 Stop and Breathe

The kids need this—but so do the adults! Take time to stop and practice breathing. Blow pretzels across the table. Blow cotton balls with a straw. Put up one finger and blow it down like a candle. Breathe together while practicing yoga. Blow bubbles. Blow up a balloon and release it and let your stress go with it. Talk about how you are feeling and how when we are mad or frustrated, we can breathe to calm down.

Ready for some more fun? Be sure to check out the other two parts of our Winter Wiggles series, Communication-Focused Activities and Gross Motor-Focused Activities, for more ways to keep your children active and working on their overall skill development!

Have you tried any of these activities yet? Let us know your favorites in the comments below, or any ways you’ve adapted these ideas to make them work for your family!

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