I saved this one for close to last because I knew it would take me the most time to cover. Sensory...touch, smell, see, hear, taste. Where do I even begin?
First of all, we already covered some great sensory items in the previous sections, but because that was not their main function, they weren't saved for sensory. But let's take a look at what they were anyway so you can see how sensory encompasses so much. I won't include pictures of the items we covered already, but I will list them again, as well as where they can be found so you can refer back to them if needed.
For auditory, there were the children's instruments in Centers. The service bell in Behavior Modification is another great tool. In Play, the felt food for the kitchen and the felt boards in Teaching Aids provide great feedback for kids with specific touch issues. Also the Jesus finger puppets in Behavior Modification, as those can be worn and carried around by the kids.
Also for touch were the sensory mats and faux fur saucer chairs in Furniture. For visual, the light box in Play is a great sensory item. So are the magnetic gears, which are visually pleasing to watch turn simultaneously and the I Spy bottle and LED hula hoop in Play as well.
For touch, the bristle blocks and Bunchems in Play are great resources. Some kids may prefer to just carry one bristle block around with them or keep it in the hands during the lesson to be continually fed by the effects touching it has on them.
Now onto the items I purchased specifically for sensory processing and our kiddos.
I bought these amazing lightbulbs that change color with a remote control! I simply screwed the bulb into an ordinary desk lamp and voila! I bought the desk lamp that clamps onto flat surfaces so that, as long as there is an electrical outlet nearby, I can move the lamp around the room. I have one little guy who loves to sit with that remote in his hand and switch between the sixteen different colors just staring in delight!
This is one of my favorite finds. These are dollar stores frames that I took the glass out of. I then glued items to the cardboard still in the frames and hung them on our wall. They can easily be reached and removed by the kids who want to touch them or take them down and sit with them while they listen to the lesson. Most of the items glued onto the cardboard inserts are also from the dollar store. I used bows from the gift wrap section, craft pom poms, sandpaper, foil, cork board, a piece of felt, and a microfiber dusting mitt that I cut to fit.
The other items I hung on the wall were some shaped silicone molds that I had from my lotion bar-making days. These are not removable as I had to actually nail them to the wall. I suppose you could attach a ring to the tops of them to hang on a nail, but I did not do that.
More removable dollar store finds I attached to the side of my bookshelf in the sensory center. I used thumbtacks for these so the kids would not poke themselves with the nails as they removed them. There are fuzzy key chains, dusters, and a stretchy back sponge. I also hung an LED light switch for one of my kids. He absolutely loves to turn lights off and on, but it triggers meltdown in other kids and can be a little distracting when you are trying to teach the lesson and the lights are flashing on and off. So I bought him his own light switch. He carries it around turning it off and on to his little heart's content!
NO sensory center is complete without bubbles! I have bubble guns, many bottles of bubble solution, and a battery-operated bubble machine.
For the sound sensitive kids, I have two pairs of these noise-cancelling headphones.
There are several things in this picture I want you to see. First are the sensory bottles. They are just plastic water bottles I soaked the labels off of. I filled them halfway with baby oil and the rest of the way with water. Then I put different items in each bottle for the kids to turn this way and that to watch move. I put water beads in one, plastic beads from the dollar store in one, buttons in one, and colorful paper clips in another. I bought a magnet wand for the one with the paper clips in it. The kids love to use the wand to make the magnets climb up and down the bottle. You can also use food coloring in these bottles. I just choose to leave them clear because the items I put in each are colorful enough. Be sure to super glue the lids on tight when complete and before little hands are on them!
You can also see in this picture my plastic puzzle maze cubes. The have dividers placed strategically in them with holes and tunnels. There is a small bead inside that you have to turn the cube this way and that to maneuver through the maze.
This is so random, but this post would have been a mile long had I taken separate pictures of everything sensory in this dollar store basket. Here are some of the sensory goodies inside:
Most of these items I got from the dollar store. You can literally stock your whole sensory center in your room for about $50 from the dollar store.
By the way, these items all make great teaching aids as well because they keep kids focused on your lesson if they are the type of kids who need to constantly be moving or doing something with their hands in order to pay attention.
Sensory sand and rice bins are great stored in those disposable food storage containers (dollar store). I fill them with colored sand or rice and hide random little items in them. I keep sand rakes and shovels, funnels, measuring spoons and cups, sand sifters, and chunky tweezers near the bins too. Great fine motor activity!
I have sensory (kinetic) sand that came with molds and also keep a container of Play-Doh (or Model Magic) and molds and shaping tools nearby. I got plastic trays for the Play-Doh to keep it from getting stuck all over our tables.
Who doesn't love these sequin pillows that change color when you rub them in different directions? Ours says peace one way and joy the other...two things I want in my classroom at all times! LOL!
My kids love these pin art toys. They mold to whatever you put inside of them...hands, faces, toy cars, you name it. The pins feel neat on their little hands too.
This sensory bag is great for just squishing! You only need some clear hair gel (or colored if you prefer), random items that will not poke a hole in the bag when squished, and a large Ziploc bag. You will also want to fold the top of the bag over and use clear packaging tape to tape it closed when you are done filling it. I have also seen people use clear contact paper cut into large squares and colored duct tape to go around the four edges to form bags. The contact paper is more durable than the plastic bags of course. We taped ours to the class window for the sun to shine through.
Whew! There you have it! I have no doubt there is more out there to be added to our sensory supplies, but this is what I have to start with as I explore more options. Hope it helps to get you off to a great start too!
I am a Christian. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am an author. In that order.