Sensory Activities at the Table

sensory table time

Do you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder? Are you looking for some fun sensory activities the table with your child?

According to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, “Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.” Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.”

Sitting with your child at the kitchen table can be an ideal opportunity to not only read, but also work on a sensory and/or fine motor activity. Here are some fun ideas that I have thought of and tried myself at the kitchen table. These activities can also be done outside when the warm weather comes!

These suggestions have been written from the perspective as a speech language pathologist who is also a parent. Please consult with your occupational therapist regarding using any of these activities below to meet any goals that your child may be working on since each child is different. Also, an occupational therapist can help modify these activities to better meet your child’s needs.

Designer's Desk with Architectural Tools and Notebook

1. Create a sensory bin of foods of varying textures (e.g. oatmeal box, rice box, pasta box).

2. Have your child close their eyes and “guess the food” as they taste it. Encourage your child to use their words to describe the food.

3. Spices! Pass around spices, smell them and have your child try to guess what the spice is.

4. Buy some ready made pizza or biscuit dough and have your child play with the dough by rolling, patting, cutting, etc with the dough.

5. Make some fresh juice or lemonade by having your child squeeze the fruit. Your child will get a full sensory experience from smelling, tasting and feeling the texture of the fruit. Oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits are perfect for this activity.

6. Make a pasta necklace with different types of pasta. Have your child explore the different types of pasta and discuss the similarities and differences. Working on beading the pasta for the necklaces will also target improving fine motor skills.

7. Make bubbles. My kids and I recently made bubbles from a recipe that was given to them at school. The experiment was a little messy but a fun activity to do at the table. My kids used the straw to blow into the cup of bubbles and made huge bubbles. Bubbles can be an excellent sensory activity especially when used with a cup and straw. Just make sure your child doesn’t drink the bubbles! For a recipe for bubbles, check out this one here.

8. Make a pizza. Making a pizza can be a hands on activity that can be fun both a child and an adult. Focus on rolling the dough out, spreading the sauce and then sprinkling the cheese on the crust. All of the ingredients have different textures, smells and tastes which makes it an ideal activity.

9. Make crayons. Making crayons can be a fun hands on activity that can also get your child to work on fine motor skills and build hand strength. Removing the wrappers and breaking the crayons does require some strength. Check out my lego crayons here and how to work on language while doing it!

10. Make sensory bottles! This can be easily done with a plastic or glass bottle. Fill the bottle with water, add some vegetable oil and then fill with your favorite items. We add glitter and food coloring to our bottles but feel free to add your own.

Do you like these ideas? I wanted to share this article published in the Sensory Focus Magazine, titled Baby, It’s Cold Outside which gives tons of ideas for indoor sensory play. The article was written by an occupational therapist who works with children. Although many of these ideas were meant to be used indoors, most of them can done outside as well. These activities are also ideal for a rainy day.

To check out some more free articles from Sensory Focus Magazine, click here.

Please share your own or comment!



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