Running from soccer practice to dance to dinner and more? You can still have a car full of calm kids with these awesome sensory ideas for when you’re on the go!
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Therapists often make recommendations to families so therapeutic interventions can be carried out at home. The limited time that we are able to see a child one on one requires that, for optimal improvement, skills be practiced outside of our sessions.
In my experience, parents are often either reluctant to provide follow-up at home because of time, equipment, or confidence in their ability, OR, they are overzealous and go above and beyond what I have asked of them.
After writing Sensory Processing 101, we were flooded with emails from parents asking for help to incorporate sensory strategies at home. We responded with posts like Heavy Work for Small Spaces, The Best Sports for Kids with Sensory Needs, and 50 Sensory Ideas for Small Spaces in addition to many sensory based activities that could easily be carried out at home.
More recently, a reader messaged us with this question:
“We are rarely at home due to the demanding schedules of my older children. My son needs to have sensory breaks incorporated into our schedule but many that I find aren’t conducive for a family on the go. Can you provide me with a list of ideas that might work in the community to provide him with the input he needs?”
Calm Kids On The Go!
1 || A Take Along Sensory Kit
Include chewy candy or granola bars, straws (to sip their favorite milkshake for some great oral input), fidget toys, lavender scented lotion or essential oil, headphones. Check out the ideas in this awesome calm down kit.
2 || A Backpack
Have your child take a stack of her favorite books along in her backpack for some weighted calming input.
3 || Glitter Calm Down Bottle
Easy to make and easy to carry! These calm down jars are often a favorite. Be sure to hot glue the lid on to make it spill proof!
4 || Get them involved
Grocery shopping? PERFECT! Squatting, reaching, bending to retrieve items from the shelves (bonus if they are heavy bags of floor or cans of soup) are great ways to get vestibular input. Have your child push the cart for some extra resistive work — maybe the younger sibling will enjoy the ride, too!
5 || I Spy Games
Check out this snowy animal tracks game or this whole library of I Spy pages from And Next Comes L. Or just play the old fashioned way and you won’t need any materials at all for a great visual stimulation activity. Try our I Spy With a Twist!
6 || Shopping Checklist
Try making a list, sending your child to retrieve each item, and having him check off each one as he gets them. This acts as a visual timer so he is very aware of when the trip will be over. In addition, the movement involved in going to retrieve each item is rich in proprioceptive and vestibular input.
7 || Walk the Curbs
A curb or the dividers in a parking lot (with close supervision to keep kids away from moving vehicles) can become instant balance beams!
This free printable will get kids moving, touching, listening, noticing, and interacting with their environment in a totally different way! It’s a great way to show kids how to explore many of their sensory systems at once!
9 || Tap Shoes
Yep! These are not only super fun but offer awesome auditory feedback and proprioceptive input. You may even want to give them a try!
10 || Mermaid Fabric
Cut a piece of mermaid fabric as a take-along fidget toy. The tactile and visual experience can be super calming and organizing!
What are your favorite ideas for giving kids the sensory input they need when you’re out and about and on-the-go? Leave them in the comments below!