Here are some great, fun, and easy activities to help children with sensory processing disorder increase their willingness to try new things:
1) Play with sticky, gooey, mushy textures such as play dough, silly putty, slime, cornstarch goop.
2) Bake! Cookies, pizzas, and pretzels, all have great dough for mixing, rolling, punching, and shaping fun.
3) Crafts: Finger paint takes first place for a tactile experience. Also experiment with glitter glue, sand art, and gluing materials with different textures such as fur, fuzz, cotton balls, wool, feathers, etc. Try out also leaves, grass, buttons, and beads.
4) Play in sand and/or water. Sand/water tables are terrific but if you don’t have one, you can set up plastic containers to serve the purpose. Be sure to lay newspapers underneath or you can place it all in the bathtub. Use little sand shovels or disposable spoons and cups for digging. You can also set up a “treasure hunt” by hiding little objects as “treasures” for your child to find in the sand. Alternatively, fill the containers with raw beans/rice/noodles/lentils or even flour.
5) Pretend to “swim” on carpet for a full-body tactile experience or roll around in grass. Have your child and his friends race each other from one end of the yard/carpet to the other.
6) Play mummies! Wrap your child from head to toe with toilet paper and then time him to see how long it takes to break free. (Please make sure he can breathe when you wrap him up.)
7) Have a blast with a plaster casting activity of your child’s hand or foot! Like this one:
8 ) Visit a petting zoo! Help your child pet the animals and describe the feeling against his skin. Have him feed them and feel the animals nuzzling his hand.
9) Take off your socks and shoes, walk around barefoot (in a safe area, only!). Our feet have sensory-touch experiences just like our hands. Getting your feet to feel and become accustomed to different kinds of surfaces helps all around.
10) Get a massage. Get used to the ability to relax and stay relaxed when someone touches you.