One thing I hate doing is shopping but I have found that if I make my kids do the work my trip goes better. Depending on my kid I ask them to pick up various objects. Today my daughter took things from the bottom shelves and put them in the car and my son (older) did the heavier things. Sometimes it is worth making them carry something through a store so their hands and fingers are busy such as holding snack for after the trip. We also have slowly managed getting my kids to work together (not an easy task at all) to deal with putting produce in bags. One holds the bag while the other puts the produce in. The more fruit/veggies the heavier the bag. ;) However, even the checking line is a task. I have retired from putting items on the counter as I have deligated it to my children. They get to lift various weights of products and yes, sometimes I help due to need, rushing, or a lack of patience. I make sure that if the kids got something it is put into it's own bag for them to carry especially if their small. If they don't get anything then they have to help me carry the groceries to the car.
However, there are things in your home that can be used as therapy tools that you probably didn't think of. What about your sled? Can you bring it inside and have them drag it or you drag them across the carpet? What about canned goods? Can you have your child arrange them on the shelves or put them away? Do you have a trampoline? Bouncing is fun and theraputic. Riding bikes is also theraputic. Need more of a challenge in riding a bike then help them learn how to ride up hill. Chores such as taking out the garbage, washing dishes, taking the garbage can to the curb, or vacuuming are all things you can use as sensory tools.
When you think of sensory tools for cheap you must think outside the box? Questions I ask myself are:
- Can my child safely chew/suck or blow it?
- chewy toys, straws, wind instruments, bubbles
- Can my child carry, pull, or push it?
- baskets, bins, tubs, bags, things with handles, things that can carry weight like big trucks, vacuuming, flying a kite
- Is it heavy?
- grocery bags, bins filled with toys or objects, moving furniture,
- Can it bounce or does it involve my child bouncing?
- balls, trampoline, exercise balls, bouncy horse, jump roping, bumping down the stairs
- Can it be stretched or squeezed?
- rubber tubes used for exercising, stress balls, lycra, body sox, playdough, moon sand
- Can it make them go fast?
- bikes, scooters, swings, running, sensory swings
- Does it make noise?
- toys, instruments, blowing into jars, radio, CD player, movies
- Does it have lights?
- Christmas lights, blinking lights, electronic toys, flash lights, lava lamps
I will add that you can't always fill a whole day with occupational therapy tasks. There are going to be times where it is simply impossible depending on the needs your child has. I know I didn't add all the sensory areas but I hope you get the idea and creativity is sparked in areas you didn't see before.