Sensory Activities to Help Kids Wind Down

Beach sand w text
The after school adjustment can be tough for some kids – especially those who tend to be highly sensitive. I’ve found that my new first grader is a weird mix of hyper (after sitting all day), and exhausted (from learning/paying attention all day). She doesn’t have enough energy to hit the park or the neighborhood swimming pool, but she’s got too many wiggles to work on homework or play a board game.
I’ve discovered that having a simple, half-hour sensory activity is the perfect transition into our evenings. Here are a few of the ones we’ve been loving.
Beach Sand
This “beach sand” recipe is a super simple combination I got from my sister-in-law:
  • 8 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of oil (I use canola)
Mix the ingredients in a large bucket or bowl, and then let the kids go to town. You can bury small items in the sand, for them to find with their eyes closed. Or provide small spoons and cups and a flat tray to play on, and let them make sand castles. Just be warned – the sand does tend to go everywhere. It’s a perfect back porch activity! We’ve done it several times – in conjunction with a wading pool of water and some popsicles, it makes a perfect “day at the beach” surprise!
Alien Slime
We adapted this recipe, omitting the glitter and using green food coloring. At first we had super stretchy, sticky slime, but then we put it in a large ziptop bag after the first day of fun, and a few days later we had fun molding it, because it had thickened to a more putty-like substance.
pasta
Painted Pasta
We used this idea – my 2 year old had fun helping me paint the pasta in the morning, and then after school both of my girls had a ton of fun sorting the colored pasta into matching colored cups, and digging through a big bowl of the pasta for pennies I had hidden.
Sensory Bath
A nice warm bath with a few drops of essential oil, some peaceful music playing, and a bowl of shaving cream “paint” to apply to the tub walls is sure to please just about any kid. You can add a few drops of food coloring to the shaving cream if you want to make things extra fun. And the shaving cream is super easy to spray off afterward, if you just turn on the shower for a minute.

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