3 min read

Sensory Breaks

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Are your children struggling to focus or becoming increasingly frustrated throughout the day? Try adding some sensory breaks into their routines. These mental recharges can help decrease agitation and promote mental and emotional well-being.

What are sensory breaks?

Sensory breaks are scheduled periods of time that create a calm atmosphere.  For as little as five minutes, your children can take a breather before or after a challenging task. Doing so can help them prepare or decompress from more structured forms of learning and activities.

Create your own sensory materials.

There are many ways to create sensory materials. Sensory bottles, hand squeezers, and stress balls are just a few ideas to get you started.

Sensory Bottles

Materials needed:

  • empty plastic bottle with a cap
  • hot glue gun (with adult supervision)
  • water
  • food coloring
  • water beads
  • any other materials that your children may like to look at in the bottle

Begin by putting the beads and other materials into the bottle. Next, fill the bottle three-fourths full with water. Add a few drops of food coloring. Dry the plastic bottle cap. Then, apply hot glue to the rim. Screw on the cap and allow the bottle to dry for 24 hours.

Enjoy looking at the bottle by turning it upside down, swirling it, and shaking it.

Hand Squeezer and Stress Balls

Materials needed:

  • hand squeezer like in the image below 
  • balloons filled with beans or flour

Have your kids count to any number while squeezing the device. Then, have them switch hands.

Create stress balls using balloons. Fill them with beans or flour and tie the opening. Your children can squeeze them to work out the sillies. These are simple tools children who enjoy doing something active with their hands can make to calm down. 

Start creative playtime.

Encourage creative play with Play-Doh, putty, or soft clay. Squeezing, working the consistencies, and creating mini master masterpieces rejuvenates mental well-being.

If you prefer something less messy, get out the LEGOs, coloring books, and crayons. Instead of following a set of directions, let your kids build something imaginary. Use coloring to sooth and relax your children. You may find coloring is relaxing for you, too!

Sensory breaks are a great way for your children to regroup and refocus. As your kids continue to take sensory breaks, they may start to tell you when they need them, which will help them self-regulate and develop social-emotional confidence.

Erika Duso has more than 8 years of combined online and classroom teaching experience. She currently teaches first grade English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Erika enjoys backpacking, reading, and looking for rocks in the Great Lakes.