I put together these “Sensory Toy” kits using the supplies from the (In)visible Self activity. Here’s some explanation of my process.
I wanted to do a sort of quick and easy implementation of the activity that would leave plenty of room for playfulness and exploration with the materials. When I offer take and makes they’re popular with preK through 5th grade, so in the spirit of Low Floors/High Ceilings, I wanted to make something that would accommodate a range of ages and lots of different styles of making/playing. I thought the term “sensory toy” was familiar to most folks and kind of encapsulated exploring the mind/body connection with tactile objects.
I read through the (In)visible Self zine and started to think about how I could get folks thinking a little about interoception while playing with the materials. I looked at the examples of what other folks had made.
I thought the “slow down your breath” prompt in the zine would be useful. The balloon reminded me of making stress balls filled with flour, so I took a balloon and filled it with some pom poms. I thought it had a nice squish-ability. Then I tried focusing on slowing my breathing while I squeezed and fidgeted with it. I thought, well what other kind of sensory toys could I make?
I played around with the supplies some more until I had a couple more examples. I put together a little instruction sheet with pictures of the toys I made and I borrowed the breathing prompt from the zine.
I had some kids start playing with my “Sensory Toy” kits in the branch the other day [they were around 3 and 5 years old]. I told them they could use the supplies to make their own toys. I described how a sensory toy might be something that would help you slow down, relax and breathe if you’re feeling sad/upset/over-excited.
Their caregiver helped them blow up the balloons, put the pom poms inside, and tie it closed. They were soooo excited to toss the balloons around with the pom poms inside, they seemed to like how it changed the way the balloon moves/floats. It was really adorable how absolutely giddy they were to play this balloon toy they made.
I tried to tie it into interoception and (in)visible self a little, asking them questions while they were playing. I’m not sure how much that stuff stuck with them, but they still seemed to get some really nice open-ended playtime out of it. And I really can’t emphasize enough how totally excited they were with the balloons, so it’s a win in my book.