Making Sensory Toys

Wave Bottles

Isaiah and I made a couple of wave bottles tonight. The goal was to make one that glowed under a black light. Our first one did not, so we made a second.

Wave Bottles

Well shaken wave bottle

Instructions

supplies
Empty plastic bottle
Water
Highlighter (make sure it’s fluorescent)
Oil (we used baby oil)
Confetti

Wave Bottles

Supplies for Bottle #1

Take apart the highlighter and put the foamy ink cartridge out. Put it into the water to soak. You can squeeze it to make the ink come out faster, but beware–you may end up with dyed fingers. I used a fork to press the ink out, though I still ended up with some on my hands. Isaiah even, somehow, managed to get it on his face. Once the water has a good bit of ink in it, take the foam out and throw it away. Pour the water into the water bottle, filling it about two thirds of the way. Drop in a bit of confetti and top off the bottle with oil. Hot glue the lid on and you’re ready to play.

Wave Bottles

Soaking the ink

Wave Bottles

Finished bottle

As I said, our first bottle didn’t work. My pink highlighter (Isaiah’s color of choice this week) wasn’t fluorescent. Oops. We also didn’t put any confetti in that bottle. It still makes an awesome wave bottle. The color from the highlighter looks really nice and very different from what we would have gotten with food coloring.

Wave Bottles

Isaiah says it makes really good waves

Wave Bottles

Waves

For our second bottle, we used a yellow highlighter. We tested it with the black light before pulling it apart to be sure it would glow. I let Isaiah put some confetti into this bottle, which he was pretty excited about. Then I turned him loose to try it with the black light. My dad propped it up against the side of the tv so that Isaiah could do whatever he wanted with his bottle, without someone having to hold the light the entire time. Isaiah raced back and forth, putting the bottle in front of the light, then moving away for quite a while. He decided to test a few other things under the black light, too.

Wave Bottles

Looking through the glowing bottle

Wave Bottles

Floating confetti

Glowing Boy

My glowing boy

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Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Science, Sensory Bottles, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Spy Bottles

I made an I Spy bottle years ago at a 4-H day camp. I kept it for years and really loved it, so I wanted to do one with Isaiah. There was only one small catch… Isaiah can’t read the list of items to find. I went ahead and got supplies to make the bottle, then, as we were making it, I realized that I could easily take a picture of the items to attach to the bottle. It worked great!

I Spy Bottles

I Spy bottle

In the end, we actually made a few bottles with different things inside. We’ll probably make more later. It’s easy to get things that go together and make bottles with different themes. We can try different fillers, too.

Here’s what you need:
Plastic bottle
Filler: We used rice for two bottles and birdseed in a third. You can also use sand, colored salt (or colored rice) or beans.
Trinkets: This can be just about anything that will fit into the mouth of your bottle. Ours had shaped erasers, buttons, a crayon, rubber bands, bobbie pins and beads.
Glue: White glue works fine, though hot glue dries much faster and tends to be a bit more secure.
Ribbon: I tied the list onto the bottle with ribbon. I only actually attached a list to one bottle, since Isaiah is more interested in shaking it to make cool sounds and seeing the treasure inside than he is in deliberately searching for an object.

I Spy Bottles

The list of treasures

I let Isaiah fill the bottles himself, which was pretty exciting for him. He filled them about halfway, added the trinkets, then put in the rest of the filler. Once everything was inside, I helped him put on the lid and shake the bottle to spread the toys throughout. It’s really important to make sure there’s some extra space left in the bottle when you fill it or nothing will move when you turn or shake it.

I Spy Bottles

Carefully filling the bottle

I Spy Bottles

He's pretty proud of his bottles

I Spy Bottles

Shaking his finished bottle

Categories: Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Bottles, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sensory Bottle–First Attempt

Isaiah and I made a sensory bottle last night. I only had one bottle, so we just made a very simple one this time. Here’s what we did.

Sensory Bottle

Our finished bottle

What you need:
Empty bottle (we used a Gatorade bottle)
Water
Glitter
Food coloring (must be water based)
We also used some stickers because we didn’t have confetti

Sensory Bottle

Isaiah with his bottle full of glitter and stickers

I let Isaiah put the stickers and glitter into the bottle before adding the water. Once he was done adding glitter and stickers, I carefully poured some of the water in. With very close supervision, I allowed Isaiah to add food coloring to the water. Giving him control resulted in a really dark color, but he liked the independence of doing it himself. I added the rest of the water and glued on the lid. He’s been playing with it ever since. Next time, we’re going to try using baby oil for some of the bottles.

Sensory Bottle

Excited that there's water inside

Sensory Bottle

Dye mixing

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fluffy Stuff

I came across this recipe about a week ago and decided to give it a try. I didn’t have as much cornstarch as it called for, so I just made a small batch. It’s been a huge hit. The best part is that it can be put in a bag and saved for another day. It’s lasted us a week so far.

"Fluffy Stuff"

Fluffy Stuff

Recipe
2 boxes of cornstarch
1 can of shaving cream
Optional: dye/food coloring (we didn’t add any color)
Mix together until the shaving cream is spread evenly through the mixture
Play!

"Fluffy Stuff"

Helping mix it and totally amazed

"Fluffy Stuff"

Deep concentration

The shaving cream makes the concoction cling to itself just enough to be able to form balls (or rocks, as Isaiah called them). If you pinch them or poke them with a spoon, though, they turn back to powder. Isaiah thought this was great fun. He also loves just burying his hands in the mixture and scooping it.

"Fluffy Stuff"

Sneaking a taste. He says it tastes like chocolate. Not so sure I believe that one...

"Fluffy Stuff"

Having tons of fun

Categories: Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Play, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weighted Toys for Special Needs

Some children with special needs benefit from weighted toys and blankets. These tools can be helpful for many different needs, including SPD, ADHD and autism. Determining whether your child will benefit from a weighted toy is mostly a matter of trial and error. Either using the toy will help your child, make no difference at all or make things worse.

Sometimes, weighted toys are recommended by an occupational therapist or teacher, other times, we parents come across the idea and decide to try it ourselves. Either way, knowing you want to try it doesn’t necessarily make it easy to find such a toy. There are weighted toys available, but there is not much variety. Many are plain or ugly and they often cost a fortune. I saw one advertised yesterday for $70! Now, $70 is a small price to pay to help your child to function better, but what if you could make your own or buy one for less that your child will love?

Build-A-Bear

Isaiah's special friend--it weighs approximately 3 pounds

You have two great options. First, if you’re a little bit crafty, you can make your own from your child’s favorite stuffed animal. I haven’t made one myself because my stitching skills aren’t stellar, but many mamas are much better at such things, so I wanted to include this.

Animals can be weighted with a variety of materials. The heavier the material, the better because it takes less space inside the animal. Unpainted aquarium rocks, plastic pellets, rice and beans are all great options. The toy should weigh no more than 15% of your child’s weight.

To make your animal, take a pair of toddler tights and cut the legs off. Pour your heavy item into one leg of the stocking and tie it shut, trimming off any excess stocking. If you want, you can pour half into each leg, so you have two smaller weighted bags. Carefully cut open a seam on the stuffed animal, preferably toward the back and/or bottom, and remove a small amount of stuffing. You want to remove just enough stuffing to fit the weights inside. Once the weight is inside, carefully and securely sew the animal closed. Your toy is now ready to be enjoyed by your child.

You also have the option to do as I did. I promised Isaiah a trip to Build-A-Bear for his birthday this year. We brought weights made from aquarium rocks to be stuffed inside whatever toy he selected. It took quite a while for him to choose the perfect toy, but he ended up choosing a monkey. The woman carefully stuffed the weights into the monkey, then let Isaiah stand on the pedal to fill his toy. Stuffing the monkey with weights took extra effort, but she was willing to do it for us and said they do it fairly often. I would highly recommend paying your local Build-A-Bear a visit if you find yourself in need of a weighted toy. We had a wonderful experience and Isaiah got to experience choosing the perfect toy, without the limitations of choosing from premade toys.

Build-A-Bear

Standing proudly outside the store

Build-A-Bear

Isaiah with his brand new monkey

Categories: Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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