Sunday, February 27, 2011

Balance Beam

One thing my kids love to do espeically my daughter is walk on a balance beam. My kids have wonderful coordination and have learned to do it very safely through gymnastics including doing forward rolls.
So naturally when I made this blog one of the things you can make easily is a balance beam. A balance beam doesn't have to be anything spectacular at all. For some kids their challenge will be walking on a strip of tape on a floor. I have found the best indoor tape so far happens to be masking tape which can work on both carpet as well as other types of flooring. For others it might consist of a 2x4, 2X6 or a 4x4 depending on their ability. (Make sure you sand them down.) The 2x6 and even then the 2x4 can be placed on the floor. If you want padding can be added to the top by using carpet stapled down or you can put down bubble wrap with fabric stapled or tape to hold it on. If you want to add height the first thing is make sure you have a board that does NOT have any knots in it and is new or at least still very sturdy. You can then secure the beam onto some blocks of wood. Depending on your child's skill this might very. I have seen ones that are bolted or screwed in very securely. through both pieces of wood. Some people can cut a groove in a piece of wood with a bandsaw or a skill saw to make sure the board doesn't shift under the weight of your child if they should loose their balance.
I HIGHLY suggest that if you have this up in the air even a little bit that you get some sort of mats. These can be napping mats, foam pieces, or gym mats. If you have a couch you might be able to use the cushions if you're strapped for case although you'll want to make sure they're secured together.

Lastly, this is not an activity that your child should do alone. You need to be present. Do NOT put these boards on furniture to get them off the floor. It is VERY DANGEROUS. The boards could shift easily leading to a fall even if you are there.

Ideas for Sensory Tubs and Bins

One of the things that brought me two or minutes of quiet from my SPD son has been through tubs or bins of 'stuff' that he can put his hands through. Sometimes it is hard to come up with cheap ideas.
Here are some objects I have laying around my house that could be used. Containers for these could consist of shoe boxes, plastic bins, empty containers washed out, pans, pots, ect. Make sure that some of the containers you get have lids especially if the contents are messy.

Sunflower seeds
Shaving cream or whipping cream
Homemade snot (I need to find a good recipe)
Dirt from outside
Moon Sand
Scrapes of fabric
Vinegar and baking soda
Peanut Foam (if they won't eat it)

Sidewalk Paint

On those days where your kids want to paint and yoyu don't want a mess to clean up. Make this simple paint that can be washed away by water. If your child is a sensory avoider rather than use a brush they can use a spray bottle (the spray bottle can also be used to paint the snow).
This paint washes off easily. It is biodegradable. It won't harm your plants because it's eco-friendly. This can also be stored if you have any left. If they should dry up just add water. How easy is that?

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Food color

Mix the water and cornstarch until smooth. Add the food color and send the kids outside to the driveway or sidewalk with brushes. If you are using spray bottles fill them up and send them outside.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Painting with Marbles

This is a marble painting we just did with the kids. It's so fresh it's still in the box. This craft was great because it wasn't as messy as many other paint crafts as well as getting a lot of sensory input as well as sensory avoidance. This project doesn't require you to get paint on your hands or fingers. If you look at this picture close near the green dot on the bottom is the marble we used for this particular picture.
Anyhow, here are the steps of how to do this project:

Shoe box with a lid that fits your paper
A piece of paper that fits in the box

Step #1
The first thing you do is place the paper in the box. If the paper is too big for the box you can push it in or you can trim it to size.

Step #2
Put drops of paint on the paper. My kids love lots of color so we used more than one kid. The drops in these pictures are about the size of a dime. Remember the marbles are going to roll through the paint. Then put the marbles in the box.

Step #3
Close the lid securely and shake. You might want to use tape to keep the lid on. Our box happened to have a flip top lid. If your child can't shake the box hard enough you might need to help. My daughter had a hard time so I had her hit the top of the box while I shook. You can open the box to see what it looks like and if it needs to be shook more.

Open the box and carefully take the paper out and put it up to dry.

I have heard of this same project but a pringle can was used. We didn't have any jars like that laying around. It might also be easier for younger kids to do a pringle jar rather than a big shoe box. Another alternative is the roll the jar on the floor or table.

The Trouble with Socks

One of the things my son hated for the longest time was socks and shoes. I couldn't keep them on his feet and it was a constant battle to get him ready to go anywhere. There were times that I simply had to take him shoeless and sockless with me because there was no way I was going to buy seamless socks when we already had some.
Some of the solutions that we tried that worked was turning his socks inside out so he didn't have the fuzzies on the inside. We got some socks with different textures such as dress socks and tube socks rather than they typical sport socks. Turning them inside out helped him for a while if he HAD to wear something on his feet. I hated him being in shoes without socks because he would ruin them.
The only other alternative that worked was getting shoes he could wear without socks. Crocs worked the best for us although I bought the cheap brand. He could wear them without having socks on and they were easy to put on. If your child doesn't like crocs then you might try sandels or aquasox which the tightness can be adjusted on sandels and aquasox are tight anyway. Crocs, sandels and aquasox were meant to be worn without socks so it works perfect if you don't want ruined shoes by little bear feet.

Craft Books

One thing I am noticing more and more about my SPD child is how tactile he seems to be. We tried making some snot a while back and it didn't turn out all that well (the recipe not my son's response). However, he loves putting his hands into the cold mixture as we have it into the fridge. This got me wondering and looking online about different books on how to make various concoctions with different feels, some with a useful purpose and others without.

Here are some books we got from the library in which I'll be looking at different recipes and maybe posting some on here. I know there are more but those will be posted at a later date.
  • Mudworks by MaryAnn F. Kohl
  • Recipes for Art and Craft Materials by Helen Roney Sattler
(Some other ideas for 'craft materials' is looking into science books.)

How I Get Some of My Books

Face it. Books can be very expensive and sometimes you find that one treasure at the library or maybe you found something that you think will help you from Amazon or an online book store but you don't have the money to get it. It's on your wish list but that's where it is going to stay because you can't afford it or you don't want to spend the full price.

Hitting used book stores, thrift stores, and garage sales is hit and miss. You'll never know if what you are looking for is there or not and sometimes it's a wasted trip if it's only for a book. Some stores aren't even organized and I have found in many cases half-price books is a rip off both in their selling and buying although they do have some good deals. So what's another option?

I overheard someone at church once talking about swagbucks and decided to check it out for myself. Basically you put their searchbar on your PC and use it to do your searches. As you use the net you randomly get points. As you get points you can purchase different things from their website. One of the best deals on there is 450 points can buy you $5 at Amazon. I've been using Swagbucks for about 6 months and have gotten $25 in Amazon gift cards which I have used and am getting my 6th $5 card.

The steals I get is because I don't buy my books always through amazon itself but I look in their used section. Sometimes it's not worth getting the products through other sellers as you might find a book on Amazon for $7.99 and your purchase will be over $25 which means free shipping. However, spending the money through ordering through Amazon might not be the best option if you only want one book that is sold for $1 or under used and in the condition you desire and pay the $3.99 shipping. This is how I got my last book and it didn't cost me money. It was paid for just by doing what I do on the net... mainly looking for ideas for my SPD kiddo and also for my blog.

I have a link on the bottom of my website that you can click and go there very easily and sign up. It really does work and I wouldn't talk about it if it didn't work. However, seeing I posted about various books I didn't think it was fair to not share how you can buy these books without spending money... or as much money as you would otherwise.

(The book on the left side of this blog is the one I got for free using the steps I did posted above.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

What is a SPIO?

There is a clothing product you can purchase from Dynamic Orthotic Systems for kids who need extra pressure to help them throughout the day. It is called SPIO which you can read up on at Basically it's tight breathable clothing which can help calm down a child. Sometimes even with state insurance it can be gotten for free or even a very low cost if your doctor will write a prescription. They I believe even have a trial period in which you can try one and see if it works for your child because every child processes things differently.
Anyhow, some of our insurances won't cover it and others of us can't afford it so what are some other options? One thing that was suggested to me is two piece swim suits a size smaller (for girls you might want to do the tankini rather than a swim top that doesn't stay snug to the upper body). Another thing to try is exercise type spandex clothing which once again may need to be a size smaller. Either of these things can be put underneath clothing if the attire is not appropriate for running around... like now. Day time options for girls can also be leggings or tights for pants which can also be purchased a size smaller.

Adventures in the Bathtub

One of the things I wish we could do during this cold season is put up the pool. Water is a huge sensory input for our children as it exercises a lot of the body. Seeing going out and playing in water is not an option we have resorted to the bathtub. Now my kids tend to be pretty messy being sensory seekers but I have found when I am unable to put up the sensory swing due to behavior issues and my hands are full that sometimes a tub of water will do in just a pinch. I don't normally add any soap but instead toys like what they'd play outside with in a pool. To avoid me getting wet I pull the shower curtain closed and allow them to play sometimes up to an hour. It seems when they get out of the tub they tend to be much calmer... at least for me.
There are also a lot of things on the market that you can do to enhance this wonderful time of water such as fizz balls (eventually I'll get a recipe for it), color changing tablets, and bubbles (nice cause you don't have a mess on the floor) just to name a few things that you can buy.
If the water is warm enough I have even read about getting a bucket and filling water in it and putting it in the freezer. When it's bathtime they get the huge ice cube out and put some hotwheel cars in the tub as a platform for them to play cars. Another alternative would be colored ice cubes to float in the water. Just make sure your kid doesn't get too cold in the bathtub if you play with ice.
One concern about being in the tub is slipping. If you don't have a mat in your tub I suggest you get one. Other alternatives would be getting some aqua socks that will grip to the bottom of the tub to help avoid slipping.

More Books for Kids with SPD and Autism

Here are two more books for kids about sensory issues and autism. These ones I have read and my personal opinion about them. I am also working on starting a page that is strickly for kids books on these types of issues but it's still in the making so be patient with me.

The Chameleon Kid by Elaine Marie Larson
I picked this book up at the library. It is about controlling Meltdown before he controls you. The book is in a comic book type form with a rhyming rhythm. Not sure how well it'll work with really young kids but it might work for elementary age kids.

Andy and His Yellow Frisbee by Mary Thompson
I picked this book up also at the library. It is about this boy who spends his time spinning things over and over again and a girl who notices this behavior. I really enjoyed this book because it showed how this girl was trying to figure out why he acted different than other kids in the school yard and how she tried reaching out to him and her response when he ignored her. This book is more geared for someone trying to understand autism than a child who has autism.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gardening with SPD

I was inspired by a post in this blog about building a sensory garden especially since my husband is a landscaper and my son loves helping him. Gardening can provide tons of sensory input for an individual in almost every sensory we have. Here are some ideas that might help you encourage your child to be outside and get some creative sensory input in.
If your child does not like to get dirty you might consider getting a gardening pad so they can kneel on it. Allowing them to use gardening tools or bring a bucket of water for them to rinse their hands which they can end up watering the garden afterward.
  • Shoveling
  • Raking
  • Planting plants
  • Pulling weeds
  • Watering
  • Mowing
  • Making a planter
  • Putting in new dirt

Here are some ideas for plants to use:

  • Pussy Willow - They don't have leaves or needles but soft round tips like fir on the ends. It is more like a bush or tree as it has branches like a tree.
  • Mosses - There are a huge variety of decorative mosses that can be used as ground cover. Some produce small flowers and others produce odors like there is one that gives off a mint fragerance that can linger on your hand. You can rub your hands through the moss and not hurt it.
  • Lambs Ears - very silky foliage feeling like a little lambs ear.
  • Jerusalem Sage - Very soft leaves
  • African Sundew - A meat-eating plant that catches it's prety using a glue-like substance on the surface of its leaves, very sticky to touch.
  • Thistles - These are prickly in some way or another so please use with caution.
  • Coneflowers -prickly
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Chives
  • Violas
  • Nasturtiums
  • Berries - Some types require a male and female plant
  • Herbs - There is a huge variety of herbs that can be tasted.
  • Vegetables - A huge variety
  • Sunflowers - Eat the seeds
  • Pumpkins
  • Roses - I would be careful with this type of plant because they have so many different varieties. Make sure they smell (Yes, thay have types with very little smell to no smell at all) and try to find ones that don't have thorns.
  • Saracoca - This is more of a winter bush that produces a strong beautiful fragrance. It also produces small white flowers.
  • Mint - There is peppermint, spearmint, and just regular mint and probably some others. A quick tip is to make sure even if you plant this in your garden to make sure you plant it in a container. Any type of mint if not contained in the dirt will multiply and take over your garden.
  • Clethra -Vanilla scent
  • Honeysuckle
  • Lavender
  • Scented Geraniums
  • Chameleon Plant - Lemon scent
  • Chocolate Cosmos
  • Various Herbs
There are so many types of flowers in an aray of colors. If your child is sensitive to certain colors or a lot of color you might want to watch what you plant according to your child's needs. (Also, red flowers tend to attract hummingbirds if you have them in your area and bluish purple colored ones tend to attract butterflies.)

Variety of Colors
  • Pansy
  • Roses - Be mindful of thorns and fragrance.
  • SnapDragons - If you squeeze the center of the flower the flower will open up and you can make it look like it's talking.
  • Poppies
  • Wildflower Meadow Mix
  • Zinnias
  • Tulips
  • Balloon Flowers
  • Coneflowers
  • Sunflowers
  • Marigolds
  • Daffodils
  • Marigolds
  • Pumpkins
  • Heuchera (Chocolate Ruffles) - purple colored leaves with chocolate colored undersides, pink flowers
This group may be difficult in some areas due to lack of wind as some of these only make sound when the wind blows them.
  • Decorative Grasses - Requires the wind to blow them to make a soft sound
  • Bambo
  • Love in the Mist - It has rattling seed heads
  • Variegatus - bambo-like foliage
  • Sweet corn - rusles in the wind
There are also plenty of things you can add to your garden to add more sensory input such as:
  • rock paths (auditory and tactile)
  • wind chimes (auditory)
  • anything that can be blown in the wind (visual)
  • statues (visual and tactile)
  • bird feeders (visual and auditory when the birds make noise)
  • water fountain or moving water (tactile and auditory)
  • Painted planter containers (visual)
  • Tunnels through plants with leaves (tactile and auditory) good plants for this would be climbing types
  • Hanging things that can be blown in the wind that twirl (visual) These can be bought at the dollar store or at more expensive places but when you have young kiddos it might be better to go cheap if you have it low.
  • Wood stumps for chairs (tactile)
  • Steping stones that can even be decorated with different items for different textures (tactile)
  • Brick paths (tactile)
  • Play bark (tactile)
  • Bean Teepees (tactile)
  • Hammocks or hanging chairs (vestibular)
  • Garden ponds (tactile)
Anyhow, here is an awesome website that I'll also stick in the sensory page above. Sensory Gardens for Kids

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sensory Storage Ideas

One of the questions that I have had to ask myself over and over again is where to put our sensory stuff when it's not in use. Ideally it is quite convenient to put the sensory swings hanging in a closet and the bins placed or stacked on a shelf. However some people don't have an extra closet to place things in. Here are some ideas that you might be able to use to help store these things.

Sensory swings can be very bulky depending on what swings you have. For us we have used the floor of the pantry but we've seen the mess and frustration it can bring as one of my kids is attempting to pull one out. One idea is to hang them up. This can be done anywhere in your home provided you have room. It can be over a closet rod or bar, you can place simple hangers on your wall and hang the swings from individual hangers. Some can be placed on the hangers that hang off the top of a door although it doesn't work as well for bulkier swings. I have a friend who doesn't have closet space and she puts her swings under a couch out of sight near the hook in her ceiling. Another great place for hanging these up out of the way is in the garage if you happen to have one. Depending on which method you choose you might be able to hang them up by their metal clasps OR you might need to take them off or connect the clasps to something different. Any swing that is inflated can be deflated if it must althoguh pumping it up might be a problem as it can be time consuming. Platform swings can be placed on their sides with the rope behind them to avoid a tripping hazard.

The bins can be stacked anywhere from closets, to shelves, pantries, and so forth. For us the bins MUST be out of reach or I have a huge mess to clean up which means they don't just get put up high but also behind something that is locked. Even your clasps can be stored in a bin. If you're really in a space crunch you might consider using one large bin or you might consider individually sized bins to fulfill your needs for storage space. Can they be stored in a ziplock bag or an old coffee can? What types of things can you use to store your sensory tools without having to buy things brand new?

Another thing we have learned is don't make tools you can't use or don't need right away. This just clutters up your space and takes up room. Some things will need to be replaced like playdough can be made when needed and you can get the help of your child as well.

Sensory Chores

In our house there is always a lot to be done. Sometimes it is a chore to get my kids to do chores and it seems it is not worth the fight but I have had to teach myself to think differently. I am teaching myself to see the task I must do must help them deal with a sensory input they're needing. So here are some tasks that even the smallest child can help with:
  • Pushing, pulling or carrying a basket full of clean or dirty laundry to the laundry room or a bedroom.
  • Putting books away
  • Taking out the trash
  • Washing or rinsing off dishes
  • Vacuuming
  • Sweeping
  • Cleaning off mats and rugs by shaking them outside
  • Cleaning the carpet with tape wrapped sticky side out on their shoes or feet to pick up dirties.
  • Making dinner
  • Helping you clean out cupboards you can't reach into due to the angle.
  • Mop the floor
  • Wash windows
  • Stuffing clothes into the washer or dryer
  • Pulling clothes out of the washer or dryer
  • Hanging upside down to clean underneath the bed or couches
  • Cleaning out the car
  • Clean out the sink or tub (without chemicals)
  • Rearrange the furniture in the house
You can have a child do these activities in as many ways as you can think or even have them get to their next task in a different way than normal. We have done cartwheels as well as summersalts or forward rolls to get to destinations.
Remember many times when you're dealing with a sensory seeker they need lots of input. I have one friend who was going nuts because her son was moving furniture all over her house. Luckily mine just moves, flips, and climbs up his mattress and leaves most other furniture pieces alone.
Also don't expect them to love doing a chore especially if you make it out to be a chore or a punishment. If you're tired you might be surprised at how easily it could be to tell them, 'You know what, mommy is really tired and I could use some help. I am asking you because I know you have strong muscles but could you please push this basket of clothes to my bedroom so I can fold it' and they comply because of the recognition of one of their qualities.

Monday, February 21, 2011

When All Else Fails...

My family rarely gets sick with anything although like normal after having a baby you get EVERYTHING and strep throat is no exception. In the midst of feeling horrid and trying to get my cell phone from my couch that ate it I had to flip the couch over. Now if I was thinking in my 'what can I use to mellow my kids out' type of mind frame I would have had them flip the couch over with some help and direction but I was too sick to do that. However, from all of this I learned that if you are out of boxes for kids to climb into and you can't trust them with plastic storage bins and you're needing to clean out your couches from the wonderful piece of fabric they put on the bottom to catch everything you never knew a couch could actually eat. It might be well worth your time to allow them to help you flip the couch over and clean and in the midst of all of it depending on what type of couch you have they might discover a hiding place that will give you a few minutes of peace and quiet... until you have to flip it over again or they get bored.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How A Shower Curtain Can Help You

One thing that is a common complaint or hinderance to allowing a child the ability to use messy things as therapy is the mess it makes. Moonsand gets everywhere (although it doesn't stick to your carpet like playdough), sensory tubs filled with rice, noodles, bean, or almost anything else doesn't ALL stay in the bin like it's supposed to. An easy solution for this is really cheap. It's the wonderful, amazing, so easy dollar store shower curtain.

Sorry I don't know how to flip pictures upright yet
You simply take this incredibly versitale, thick, cheap piece of plastic and lay it where you know the majority of the mess will land. When the activity is finished you take the curtain by the corners and put the 'mess' back in its container or throw it away.

Dollar Store Finds

There are many products on the market that can help in sensory related issues. Surprisingly many of these products can be found or something simular in your local dollar store. I wanted to show you how simple it can be to get some things to help your SPD child depending on their sensory needs.

I found these scissors to be really cool with that yellow piece that sticks out.
You fold it towards the blades and it helps open the scissors. This is great for kids
with low muscle tone or help in areas of movement.

I couldn't resist being a mom of a boy. These can deal with oral as well as auditory.
These are all great oral activities although I am sure you can get some other sensory input as well such as tactile and auditory. (The pom-poms are to blow not to put in the mouth.)

This is a MUST for any mom of a preschooler or a SPD child. Lay the shower curtain on the floor and allow your kid to play with Moon Sand, Play Dough, Paint or whatever and when they're finished pick it up by the corners and do with the remains what you want (put it back in a container or throw out) and if it's really messy go take it out in the backyard and hose it down and let it air dry. No messy carpet... well, if your child doesn't play off of the shower curtain.

I want to remind you these are just a few of the things I found there was also bubble wrap, coloring books crayons, ribbon sticks, frisbees, balls of all sorts, contact paper, things that spin in the wind with and without chimes, and so much more that you could use on a limited budget but it all depends on what your child needs. Seriously look at what helps your child's sensory issues and when is the best time to use them to help your child cope.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Kid is Driving Me Nuts

One of the struggles for me sometimes is figuring out what sensory input my child needs. He's not always able to tell me what he needs although he's working on filling that quota and it's a guessing game. Usually I am the one frustrated because he's doing something he knows he's not supposed to be doing and yet again I am telling him it's not okay or safe.
Maybe sharing what he does and what type of input he needs will help you recognize some of the needs your child has.

My child  hangs off the stair rail.
Means he needs: something to hang off that's safe. Things like sensory swings, monkey bars, chin pull up bars in door ways and things they can hang off of safely are great things to fill this need that are acceptable.

My child is taking off and chewing on the ends of the door stoppers fully emerged in his mouth.
Means he needs: some oral sensory input. Things like chewys work or baby teething toys work. Another thing you can do is take empty fish tank tubing and tie it into a necklace. Also chewing on hard crunchy foods can also help like apples, carrots, celery, crackers, and foods that make noise when you bite them.

My child is chewing on his shirt collar and sleve cuffs.
Means he needs: same exact thing as above with the door stopper ends.

My child is jumping on the couches.
Means he needs something to jump on that is appropriate. Getting an indoor trampoline, making hopscotch on the floor inside or out, riding a bouncy horse, jump roping are all okay things that don't ruin furniture.

My child is climbing up his dresser.
Means they need something to climb. This one can be hard but if you can't take them outside you can have them climb up cushions, pillows, or blankets piled on the floor. Older kids can practice going up and down the stairs in various ways. Depending on how small the child is a small indoor plastic climber toy or slide with stairs.

My child is running and crashing into the doors and slider as hard as he can.
Means they needs some type of pressure activity. Doing squeezes, getting squashed in a bean bag or couch cushion. Jumping into a crash pad or pit. Playing 'timber' on a bed where you fall down is another option.

My child is touching EVERYTHING in the store.
Means they need different textures to touch. Give them something to hold with a variety of textures. Bring something with you with various textures such as a book with different feels. Things like squishy rubber toys, a marble maze in a piece of fabric, a bean bag, a blanket, a taggy toy, stress balls or silly putty, are all things that they can fidget with in the store.

My child is pulling every type of food he can and smearing or emptying it on the table and playing in it.
Means he needs something tactile to do again. Examine the textures he's playing in. Does he need something slimy like snot or pudding paints? Does he need something more rough like playing in cornmeal or sand. Does he need to play in liquid like water.

My child is playing in the water... again.
This means that water activities will work. Fill a tub with water and allow them to play in it (remember that dollar store shower curtain this would be a good idea for this type of sensory issue if it's not outside or in the bathroom), allow them to wash dishes, play in a kiddie pool, or take a bath or a shower.

My child is spinning in the living room with his arms in the air and is whacking his sister.
Some ideas for this might be giving him a safe place to spin in. Try a sit n spin or having him run in large circles. Put some tape on the floor or a hula hoop to designate HIS space.

My child is making oral noises as much and as loud as he can.
This one can be tricky because it can be two things I have found. It could be the sound it makes meaning it's an auditory thing or it could be an oral sensory issue. If it is noise you can try putting on the radio. Practice making animal sounds or letter sounds, give them something to sing, allow them to go into a room away from you to make these annoying sounds. You can also give them something like a musical harmonica, recorder, party horns, and things of that nature to blow into as well as make noise to fill both types of input.

These are just a few ideas of what we do or hopefully something that will help you understand your child's sensory needs. Also the book The out of sync child has a check off list to help you identify your child's sensory input needs as well as a lot of information on the different types of sensory issues. Her other books are also a wonderful asset because they give you activities that'll help fill the sensory needs your child may have. The Out of Sync Child has Fun and Growing an in-sync Child

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cardboard Box Creativity

I got this book quite a while ago from the library. This book is awesome if you're willing to help your kiddo build some of these things due to the possibility of cutting cardboard. There were so many cool ideas with great instructions. If your kiddo loves being creative and they love cardboard boxes this might be a perfect book to help you rediscover a child's love of cardboard boxes.

Oh the joys of free boxes!!!

One thing I love is getting a free cardboard box. It can provide hours of entertainment and theraputic play. Here are some ideas before you rip up a box and stuff it in your recycle bin.
  • Hide in the box
  • Lay the flaps down so it is dark
  • Open both ends for a tunnel to climb through
  • Put things in the box to drag across the floor with a handle of some sort
  • Put things in it to push them across the room.
  • Use it to carry things to a new destination.
  • When you are done with the box give them the job of ripping it up the best they can into smaller chunks.
  • Use it with a marble that has been dipped in paint to make a picture without getting messy.
  • Make a house
  • Stack them and then knock them down
  • Make a maze with boxes and tape
There are countless others to try. Use your imagination or better yet watch all the things your child can come up with.

Stop Tipping Your Chair!

I can't tell you how many times I heard this in school growing up and I think a lot of kids do it. A child with sensory issues might do this same action for the rocking motion or because they need to have some pressure input. I have heard of a few ideas if this is a problem.

  1. This one is really cheap and easy to do and that would be putting a rubber band on the chair's legs so they can press their feet against the rubberbands. The negative side to this is the rubberband depending on how thick can break. The next step up is the rubber stretch bands for exercise or therapy to strengthen muscles which won't break.
  2. You can make a weighted lap blanket to sit on their lap.
  3. Replace their chair with an exercise ball
  4. Replace their chair with an exercise ball with a stand that keeps the chair in one place rather than rolling everywhere.
  5. Get an air cushion for like balancing to put on the chair.
  6. Allow them to take their shoes off and put something on the floor to give them a different sensation such as a foot massager, sand paper, or something to rub their feet on. You might even try like sandpaper on the legs of the chairs.
  7. Allow them to stretch an exercise band with their feet.
  8. Allow them to stand rather than sit
  9. Get some exercise weights that velco on to put on their ankles
  10. Get one of those pillows you can put your feet into and it vibrates

Sensory Room Ideas

It's very difficult to tell through a website or post what should or shouldn't go into a sensory room because all kids are different. With my SPD child we have a hard time dealing with things like climbing and throwing things as hard as he can. He's constantly running back and crashing into things. So are some suggestions that you might be able to use depending on your child and their needs.

  • Bean bag
  • Exercise balls
  • Christmas lights
  • Toy tunnels
  • Small trampoline
  • Ball pit made out of a blow up or hard kid swimming pool or a jumpolene filled with pillows, balls, newspaper, ect.
  • Rugs of various texture
  • Foam interlocking mats
  • Different color bedroom light
  • Moon chair
  • A floor piano they can step on
  • Activity boards on the walls
  • Putting the mattress on the floor
  • A bar that can be mounted in a doorway for them to hang on that can hold their weight and at their height that they won't bash their head into
  • Sensory swing
  • Sit n' spin
  • Vibrating massagers
  • Small plastic toy structure
  • Cardboard box for them to hide in
  • Bouncy Horse
  • Beaded curtain
  • Various types of lamps
  • Glow in the dark stickers
  • Chalk paint for the lower half of their room
  • Weighted blanket or stuffed toys
  • Aqua Doodle
  • Hammering toys
  • A small cd player
  • A quiet noise machine
  • Black out curtains
  • Replace florescent lights with ones that aren't
  • Get a light with a light dimmer
  • Bopping Bag
  • Resting mats that you can put up against the wall
Some words of caution. Climbing can be a huge danger as can ropes and windows. Make sure your child is safe. If there is a possibility of running into furniture such as a dresser, bed posts, bed frame, toy box that are hard that you might consider moving these to a safer location and anchoring them down. Due to climbing issues we had to put his dresser and toy bins in the closet to keep him safe and they're anchored in the wall so he doesn't tip it on himself.

Bubble Solution

One thing I have learned is NOT to let my kiddos have a full jar of bubbles. It seems to get spilled or poured out almost completely by one child or another. I know I can get some cheap but sometimes you run out and your kid is having a meltdown. One thing you can do is follow one of the many recipes from this link on how to make your own bubbles.
If you have lost your wand there are plenty of other options you can try. Here are some ideas for using various house objects for wands.
  • Empty canning ring or a ring for a baby's bottle.
  • Cookie cutters
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Plastic berry containers (usually they're green)
  • Hula hoop
  • Fly Swatters
  • A piece of yarn tied in a loop and put in a straw and tied
  • Lids from yogurt or margerine containers cut out
  • Wire coat hanger

Edible Finger Paint

I am not sure about your kids but my mine put everything in their mouths even at the age of 5yrs. I know some of this is definately sensory issues and so I tend to try safe types of things like edible playdough. However, another idea is using pudding as paint. It's not as messy in a highchair and it's great in the summer when you can send them to go get rinsed off in the sprinkler. Any pudding will work but for us we typically use store bought pudding you just have to add milk and shake. To give it a different texture you could try putting something in the pudding depending on the flavor such as coconut, pineapple, bananas mushed up, small chocolate chips, crushed up candy canes and things of that nature of a different feel or taste.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ziplock Gloves

One thing I am so thankful for in our day and age happens to be ziplock baggies. They are so helpful in a variety of projects especially with kids who are sensitive to touch. I have noticed it quite a few times where there is a messy craft and while the craft looks fun there is NO WAY that child will put their hands in to participate because of the texture or mess.
There are quite a few activites like finger painting that these kids won't join in and buying kid gloves for craft projects can get expensive. However, have no fear there is a cheaper method by allowing your child to put his or her hand into a baggie. This works well with squishing or smearing activities. If the baggie is too loose on their hand you can try helping keep it on with a rubberband so that they too can join in the fun.

The human paper shredder

We tend to get a lot of junk mail and there is a way you can limit it but I forgot how because I have found junk mail can be theraputic. You see, all my kids LOVE opening mail and as long as I get junk mail we both have something appropriate to open. While they're going through and opening junk so that we can destroy and discard it I can sometimes sneak in 5 minutes to read a letter or deal with a bill in peace. Opening mail only is fun for so long so I set aside a drawer for this junk mail whether opened or not because I will have days where I have no junk mail for them. This gives them the ability to open or shred the junk or if I want to give them a treat we sit down and use the paper shredder together.

Stress Balls

Making a stress ball is really easy. They sell in the store for about $2.99 but you can make them for cents. The tools you'll need are simple but just like the stress balls at stores if you have a kid that chews on things this probably wouldn't be the best idea for them.

round balloons
a filler (rice, sand, water if you don't mind if they break, gel, cornstarch, flour, small smooth pebbles, ect)
Funnel (not needed for all fillers)

Step #1
Take the balloon and begin filling the balloon with your choice of filler. Keep pushing filler in even when it reaches the top until you get the desired firmness.

Step #2
Take the balloon and tie it in a knot. Cut off remaining top.

Step #3
Take a second balloon to wrap over the filled balloon for added strength. You may tie it or you can use several balloons with small cut holes of different colors for a more colorful and unique stress ball.

Inspiration for Cheap Ideas

One of the things that inspires me in finding or figuring out how to make cheap therapy tool alternatives is by going and getting magazines from therapy stores that I find on the internet. I look for the sensory input area I need for with my son and then find what products are being used commercially and see if I can find material that will give a simular sensation for a cheaper price. Examples of this would include the intertube swing which I made for $25 rather than spending $125. A scooter board you can get for around $18+ dollars which you can make for less than 1/2 that price. (That is my son's next project.) Using an old sheet filled with old pillows or packing peanuts for a crash pad or a 2X4 to make a balance beam are also cheap things you can probably find around for free.
Some things can be bought at stores for a fraction of the price. Balls, bins, stretchy toys, blown in musical instruments, bubbles, ropes are just a few things I have found at dollar stores. (There will be a post on this later I hope.)
Just make sure what you purchase will work for your child. For instance, I know what my son's meltdowns are like and that bins from the dollar store are easily broken in the middle of a rage. It is more cost effective and safer (broken sharp pieces of plastic) for me to spend a buck or two more for a less destuctable bin or option that then cheaper product.

Aqua Sand

Well, a few years Moon Sand was all the rage and I admit we jumped on board before we had a recipe. However, this year they came out with Aqua Sand which I haven't even tried but I hear it's just as good as Moon Sand but a different texture. Out of curiousity I went and sought out a recipe to make Aqua Sand and suprisingly found one. Like all the recipes I have put them on the how to page for ease of access.

Aqua Sand

clean colored sand
scotch guard (aerosol can)
baking pan/newspaper

Step #1
Spread out the sand nice and even across the pan and let it bake for at least one hour at a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees. All you are trying to do here is get the sand completely dry before moving on. You can alter the time and temperature in the oven depending upon how much sand you are working with.

Step #2
Once the sand is totally dry take it out of the oven so that it can cool down. Once it is cool to the touch you want to spray it with the Scotch guard. Now mix the sand up and spread it out across the baking pan. If you do not want to spray the Scotch guard on your nice baking pan you can always put the sand on the newspaper and spray it there.

Step #3
Spray it again with the Scotch guard. Go ahead and do with mix and spray one final time. Give the sprayed sand a few hours to dry out completely. Once the baked and dried sand has been sprayed, let it sit overnight to get good and dry. This sand is now hydrophobic and will behave exactly like Aqua Sand, and it is ready for you to make amazing underwater arts and crafts creations.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wet Clothes

One of the things I have noticed with my kids is they HATE wet clothes. It they get a drop of water on them off it comes no matter what piece of clothing or where they are... with the exception of under garments.
There is not much you can do in these situations without a meltdown with our kids so I had to come up with a solution. The first thing is I have prepared our car and diaper bag to have an extra set of clothing for each child. I attempt to make them clothes that will quickly dry or feel that way. Sometimes getting something like a swim suit top or shorts will work in a pinch because they dry so quickly and you now can get them so they are a top and bottom that are more like shirts and shorts even for girls.
Okay so you don't have swimwear or extra clothes they can have in the car another way to quickly dry out clothes, if it's not too wet, is put it in the sun or if you live in a wet state like us you can place it by the heater with the wet spot closest to the heat. Even if it dries up slightly I have found my kids more able to accept the clothes back.
Worst case senario is because my kids are fairly young I have allowed them to go depending on the age and gender of the child and the place and event to go without that garment. If they're totally drenched and I have nothing then it's time to just go home.

Aggression Cookies

These cookies you mix up with your hands. For a child who needs to squish and squeeze things this might be a yummy theraputic treat. The more you squish them the yummier they seriously taste. This recipe can also be broken down to make less as this recipe makes 15 dozen!

3 cups brown sugar
3 cups margarine or butter (or 1 1/2 cups each)
6 cups oatmeal
1 tbsp baking soda
3 cups flour

Put all this in a huge bowl and mash, knead, squeeze (see below). Then form it into small balls, midway between filbert size and English walnut size, on an ungreased cookie sheet. Butter the bottom of a small glass, dip it in granulated sugar and mash the balls flat. Keep doing it. (You need butter the glass bottom only once or twice, but re-dip it in sugar for each ball.) Then bake at 350ยบ for 10 - 12 minutes

Kids Books

One thing I am starting to find is kids books about sensory issues regardless of what disorder they might also be tied with. I am so excited about this discovery. I am hoping that I'll be able to find them at my local library and read through them there without kids as I am so horrible at returning books. Here are just a few I found off Amazon. Not sure how to list a bunch of them on the same post with the pictures but here they are with links to

Painting and the Sensory Avoider

I know there are some kids who are not sensory seekers but sensory avoiders. If your child hates getting messy and yet they want to paint. I know this can be a huge problem and so here are some ideas for you if this happens to be your type of sensory child.
  • When it comes to painting you can allow them to play with paint in a baggy that is sealed. You can even include a piece of paper in their so you can keep their artwork when they're done squishing it on a flat surface smearing the paint around.
  • Medical gloves is another alternative for allowing them to play with paint but not with direct contact. (I am not sure if they make kid medical gloves so if you happen to know of a company I would love to know so I can share it with others.)
  • Another way to paint without getting messy is putting the paint into spray bottles and spraying it on the paper.
  • In craft stores and office stores they sell bottles to put water in to seal envelopes. This would work well if they want to use something like a paint brush but don't want to get messy.
  • Crayola also makes glitter paint and glue that is in squeezy tubes. This also might be an alternative for your sensory avoider who wants to paint.

3-2-1 Contact

Hands and feet on the contact paper in our kitchen.
The carpet didn't work well because I didn't tape it
down very well. The vinyl worked great and this is
about a 3 foot piece taped down where their hands
and feet are.

One thing that I have not tried with my kids but I have read about is getting some contact paper and allowing your child to walk on it with their bare feet. Some kids really love the sticky sensation and others like the noise. For a different feel you can use socks, tights or shoes. You can try different body movements like crawling across it or rolling across it. You can then examine all the things the contact paper collected from your socks and clothing. To get it to stay down you can use masking tape or some other tape and tape it to the floor. (Masking tape tends to work best on carpets.) Be sure to secure it very well. I happened to do what I called a sticky runway for them to run on since my son stims in a straight line. It ended when the tape gave away and they were tangled in it which was even more fun. Thankfully it didn't get in my daughter's hair!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Carol Kranowitz has done it again!

She came out with another book full of activities for kids with sensory issues! I have yet to buy it but I just might use the gift card I earned from using Swagbucks to get this one. She has some of the best activities and ideas that are so simple even for busy mom's with busy kids. If I get it I will write a review and link it to here.

If you don't know what Swagbucks is it is a program where you put their searchbar on your internet. When you do searches on the web you end up getting points called Swagbuck points. These points add up in various different ways and you can get several different things with them. (I just happen to get Amazon gift cards due to how often I go there to look at reviews and buy products.) There is no cost whatsoever involved and so if you're tight on cash and would like to basically get free products this is one way to go cheap. You can access it from the link on the bottom left side of my blog.

Grotto Grips

One of the things I see my son struggle with is holding a pencil properly. Now in almost any case this wouldn't bother me but you can tell he struggles to have control of what he is writing with. Not only does he struggle with control of where he draws or tries to write but also how hard he is using the pencil, crayon, or pen.
I was told about these through a homeschool store in a nearby town about these Grotto Grips. They were made by an occupational therapist and they're weird looking. If you go to occupational therapy long enough you'll see tons of weird shaped things that help you do normal every day tasks so I bought some. I got to try them before I lost them and they do work to keep your hand and fingers in the correct position so you do have good control.
Now I have go buy some more from either Amazon or the homeschool store because Staples and Office Depot don't carry them. (I posted two links for them from Amazon so you could see the product itself and then one with it being used.)

Moon Sand Recipe

Okay, I went and found the website and found several others with the same recipe for homemade Moon Sand. (I have put this recipe under the how to pages under recipes for easier access rather than suffling through a bunch of posts.)

6 C. play sand (the very fine type)
3 C. cornstarch
1 1/2 C. cold water

Step #1
Mix cornstarch and water thoroughly until it is completely smooth and mixed in. It'll take a few minutes.
Step #2
Gradually mix in the sand 1 cup at a time. You'll really need to work it in with your fingers.
Play with it!!!
Step #4
When you're done put it in an air tight container.
Step #5
To revive it to play with it again just sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of water on it and work it in.

You can use food color to dye the sand OR you can buy colored sand. I'm not sure what the cost difference is if there is any as I have not looked. I know Home Depot does carry the play sand though if you have one near you but if you don't you should be able to find it or get it through a home improvement store like that.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Newspaper Baseball

One of the things about living in a state where being outside equals being wet happens to be finding things you can do indoors. There are some games and things you just can't play indoors but we came up with a solution on how to bring one outdoor game inside.
We get the newspaper every Sunday and I think the only things we read are the ads unless an article really catches our attention. So today I rolled up a newspaper to make a bat and crumpled up papers to make a ball. It worked wonderful.
Of course in our case the bats turned to golf balls and then the bats turned into swords. Isn't newspaper great?!

A Swing at IKEA

I couldn't find a photo of the swing
on IKEAs webpage. So I found one
off another blog which is called,
A Sensory Life

IKEA has a really cool swing that you can purchase. It's not near as expensive as what you'll find at some of the stores specializing in theraputic equipment. This one runs about $35 and the inflatable pillow inside I think it like $10 or so. They work really well together. This is a great solution for kids that are at risk of strangling themselves on ropes as well because what holds the swing up is fabric or falling off. It is also a great place for kids to hide and get that swinging motion they need.
(I think the inflatable cushion is called the 'Air Element'. It is located at least in our local stores in the kids department.)

Tire Swing

One of the things I remember when our son was in occupational therapy was a huge intertube that was hung from the ceiling. The valve was taped down and the tube had a wrap around where the rope held the tire. When my kids started fighting over the lycra swing once again I decided it was time to get a new swing. I called around looking for used intertubes at Les Schwab but couldn't find any although they would have given them to me for free if they had any.

Tire Swing (Tube Only)
This is how the tire swing is ridden.
This photo was taken off the
Special Needs Toys website
because we don't post pics
of our kids on the internet. At their
site it costs $125 tax included.

I got in touch with one store who had a person who knew what a sensory swing was as all the previous Les Schwab stores I called had no clue of what I was talking about and the easiest way to describe what I was doing was an indoor tire swing. He told me that what I needed was a 10,000/20 intertube which runs around $35 dollars. (The only thing I can tell you to help you if you decide to do this type of swing is the second number, in this case the 20, is the size of the hole in the center.) I called one more store and after explaining what I was going to be using it for he decided to sell a brand new one to me for $25 dollars. (Make sure if they give a price or deal over the phone you take down the name so they can confirm your story.)
One suggestion they did make was that it is better to get a new one if you can as the used ones can be covered in rust and have holes and gunk on them and it might not be something you want your kid to touch or worse... taste.


I must admit that we do not have one of these. We have a small indoor trampoline that is about 4 ft which works well for our home.  The nice thing is there is quite a selection if you go this route as well as other things you can add into the jumpolene to give more sensory input.
The reason we do not have one is not due to cost but because when you get a product for a child with sensory needs you need to look at a bigger picture. In our home my son has a habit of breaking any inflatible ball that comes into our home with the exception of exercise balls because of their thickness. For us this probably would have been a wasted investment but for other families whose children don't have a love of popping things this might be well worth the investment.

Red Lighting Can Help Sleep

I am not sure why this works but I was given advice from a psychiatrist and I'll pass it along as it might help someone with a kid struggling to go back to sleep. We all face kids who have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Lights get turned on and when this happens and you change the lighting you can disrupt the melatonin. (I am not a scientist or a doctor so I can't explain it any better than this.) Anyhow, a study was done and it showed that if the lighting that was turned on was red that it didn't disrupt the sleep cycle near as much as it did if it was regular lighting allowing a person to go back to sleep quicker. It might be worth a try for someone. We have not needed to at this point.

The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun

I just HAD to include this book here because this book is FULL of things you can do or make at home for a child with SPD type issues. I have used some of her ideas for things to do or use. I also LOVE how she has the book set up by different senses so you can find what will help your child out the best easily. Her ideas are cheap and many of them can be made with things around the house.

What type of playdough should I use?

Play-doh is a great theraputic tool for kids and the nice thing is there are so many types you can make and it's cheap. All one has to do is type in play-doh recipes' or 'playdough' recipes and you will find all sorts of them. Seeing these recipes are so easy to come by I thought I would share some of the differences in recipes.

Store Bought - The texture is very smooth and it is colored very brightly. The dought is easily shapable and moldable and it usually comes in kits with all sorts of gismos and gagets which can be quite fun.

Kool-aid Playdough - This playdough has the smell of the flavor of kool-aid you pick. It is a smoother dough like the store bought.

Edible Playdough - This playdough is made usually from peanut butter. If you happen to have a very young child or a child allergic or sensitive to nuts of any sort I suggest you not try these types of recipes unless you can find one made different. I have yet to find one but a good alternative would be cookie dough made without eggs.

Glitter playdough - For those of us brave enough to have glitter in our homes and with kids who love some sparkle this might be the dough for you. You actually can add it into any dough (except edible) to give it a little sparkle and change the texture depending on how much glitter you include.

Salt Dough - This dough typically has tons of salt but depending on how it is used in the recipe will determine the texture. If you just pour salt into the flour mixture you'll get more of a grainy texture; however if you boil the water and disolve the salt in the boiling water it tends to have less of a grainy feel to it.

Clay - I do not have a recipe for this but you can find it at craft stores or from the ground depending on where you live. Clay tends to be stiffer than playdough but watch out it is tougher to get out of carpets than playdough.

Lighting Options

My kids love lights and while I have yet to do this for my son's room I'll post the idea here and maybe someone can use it. Christmas time is over but maybe the Christmas lights can be a wonderful idea for your sensory child. You can string up lights around the edges of the ceiling for a different lighting effect such as on constant or flashing or running. Now I know there are some kids (like mine) that will pull them out or play with the electrical plug so here was my wonderful idea. They have kid electrical safety devices that go over the electrical socket as well as the plug that is plugged in. (This works with some children but not all as mine can figure out almost anything and so I don't dare call anything 'child-proof'.) To take care of the cord going UP the wall you can get some things at the hardware store that can screw in to cover up cords. If you use this type of thing probably the best place to put it would be the corner or use it straight up from the electrical socket. I can't think of the name of them but maybe I should take my camera into the hardware store. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Window Safety

One of the issues that some kids with sensory issues deal with are not realizing they're in danger. They don't understand that what they are doing could get them hurt. Many times, especially when they're young, you can't even explain the fact that they are in danger by what they're doing.
I have to admit that one thing my son has done numerous times was climb in the window. It didn't matter if it was open or shut he was right there. Many times these were second floor windows which as you can imagine gave me quite a fright as I knew the danger even though he did not.
We tried several different safety devices at the stores and my son figured them out. Even the ones that were screwed secure to the point my husband could barely unscrew them to remove them my son for some reason unknown to us were able to undo by himself. (We've yet to figure it out.) I was bound and determined to find another way to go about keeping the window shut without having to install bars (Hardware stores do carry them although I suggest you contact your local fire department about their suggestions on types or brands in the case of a fire.)
So I realized if I went to the store and got some suction cups the one with hooks on them and place them on the window that doesn't move that the suction cup if firmly placed will stop the window from opening. This can be placed at the top of the window and the hook can be removed. If needed several can be placed all over the window. We removed the hooks due to our children but you might find that your child will love them on the windows if you hang artwork from them. Who knows? We just did what works best for our family.

Toys 4 Sensory Swings for Cheap

One of the things I did to get different toys for my the sensory swing for FREE was taking the pieces off my parents old toy structure they where going to pull down due to it being so weak. From that structure I was able to get a set of rings, two swings, and a bar. All I had to do was put new rope on them and hang them up on our hooks and the kids were immediately swinging. There are many people trying to get rid of their metal swings and it might be worth asking if you can get the various toys off the set before they get rid of them. Most of them are made of plastic of some sort and still have lots of use in them rather than buying the individual pieces at a store. Various structures have various toys on them so you might find things like a rope ladder, baby swing, a ring bar combo, and so forth that you can add to your home therapy.

Lycra Swing

If you have been to occupational therapy you might have seen a swing made of really stretchy fabric. That fabric is called Lycra and can be found at craft stores. It is really easy to put up. Tie loops in the end of the lycra securely using several knots and place the hook in. Hook one end to each eye hook or place them both on the same eye hook. You will need ot experiment with how low you want it with your child who'll be using it.
One sibling checking on the other after spinning
to make sure they're okay or to ask to have a turn.

Lycra (guessing 3yrds)

There are so many ways to use this tool but the main ones are to swing (in several different ways), bounce or spin. My son loves to climb up one side to touch the ceiling and he also loves to sit in it to watch a movie as if it were a comfy chair.
Pros: Tactile, Vestibular, and Proprioceptive senses can all be met in this swing. It doesn't fray so no sewing is required. It also can last a very long time.
Cons: It can be EXPENSIVE!
Solution: Look around at your local fabric stores. If you can find coupons for 50% off or more it might be worth it depending on the stores prices. Look in the clearance piles. We found ours and got more than what we needed for about $40. Recently I came across more at Wal-mart in a clearance type bin and it was on a bolt for $5 for 5 yards. I didn't use it for a homemade Moby wrap for my baby but it very well could have been used for a sensory swing.

Moon Sand

One of the things my son loved was moon sand. We got a lot of moonsand for him and put it in a big tub and allowed my son to play in it. He was able to squish, push, and of course build and sculpt this stuff to his hearts delight.

Pros: This is a great activity for tactile and proprioceptive senses as well as give mommy a break. It also doesn't get stuck in carpet or on clothing.
Cons: It can be very messy and expensive
Solutions: A wonderful solution for this is going to the dollar store and picking up a $1 shower curtain. Place it underneath the tub or whatever you have the moonsand in. When the kids are done playing with their moonsand you can pick up the edges and pour any moonsand that fell out back into your tub. It's really easy if you have them working on it on the floor because you don't have to move any tables or chairs. :) Also, in another post I will be posting a recipe to make your own moonsand at home that I found on the net but it is a HUGE batch. I have not tried this myself at home but it looks like it would be cheaper than buying it from the store.

Sensory Swing Set Up

The things dangling off the board on the left are spring links.
They are what we use to hook up the sensory swings.
 One huge investment that was very cheap was installing the basis for a sensory swing that would be placed on our ceiling to allow our son to swing, bounce, and climb. I don't have pictures of all the different parts because ours has been up for a while but I'll list the tools and supplies you'll need to make one just like it. Mind you, any type of ceiling structure for this type of thing MUST be attatched to a tress or beam in your ceiling. Ours, due to the fact that it was unsafe to place upstairs, was put up in our downstairs livingroom.

Tools Needed:
2X6 board long enough to hit at least 2 tresses
Stud Finder
Large Eye Hook Screws (2)
Carriage Bolts (4)

Find at least 2 studs in your ceiling and drill a hole slightly smaller than then the carriage bolts that you'll be using. Make sure they are long enough to go through the 2X6, sheet rock, and into the tress. I believe ours was 3 inches although it might have been a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch longer. We put two on each side but you can do it by only putting in one. We wanted ours really secure so this is what my husband did. Once the 2X6 is securely screwed in with the carriage bolts then you can screw in some thick eye hooks. You want them big enough to put a clip through and durable enough not to bend under your child's weight or any movement (bouncing, rocking, swinging, climbing) they may do on the swing. Then test it AGAIN before you allow your children on it.