Themes for sensory stimulation activities

Written by tracey le roux
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Themes for sensory stimulation activities
Exploring nature is a stimulating activity. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Sensory stimulation activities are beneficial for developmentally delayed children and for adults with disabilities. Stimulation of all the senses can improve awareness of the environment and may also encourage increased interaction and participation in everyday activities. These themes are suggested with children in mind but can be used equally well with disabled adults and geriatric patients, adapting the activities to their individual abilities.

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Fruit Theme

Provide a variety of fruit and point out the colours as you name the fruit. Encourage exploration of the texture of the whole fruit and smell the fruit. Now cut the fruit for your group and encourage them to see the colours inside. Touch the flesh of the fruit and smell the more intense aroma of the cut fruit. Encourage tasting of the fruit if no eating problems are present, and make a fruit salad, fruit smoothie or a fruit pie.

Winter Holiday/Christmas Theme

Fill the room with the aroma of spicy biscuits and other festive baking. Have a variety of seasonal food available for smelling and tasting. Provide different winter clothing and explore the various textures of the clothing, such as wool, fake fur, waterproof clothing and polar fleece. Make wrapping paper with finger paint on brown paper while listening to traditional music. Looking at candles or Christmas lights in a darkened room is visually stimulating.

Outdoor/Countryside Theme

Autumn and spring are ideal for this theme. Go for a walk in a park or garden where you can see a variety of trees and flowers. Explore the textures of leaves, petals, seeds and bark, and smell the flowers and leaves. Taste berries and nuts that are safe to eat, if no eating problems are present in your group. Listen to the birds and to running water. If it is not possible to go for a walk, then collect leaves, flowers, bark and berries you can examine inside, then watch a short documentary about animals that live in the countryside.

Ball Theme

Collect balls of different sizes, weights, shapes and textures. Look in your local pet shop and baby shop for balls that make a noise or have built-in flashing lights. Encourage the members of your group to hold and feel a variety of balls. Try throwing and rolling the balls, and see which ones can float in water. More active members of your group can stuff balls into a pillow case or net bag. For extra stimulation, watch short clips of a variety of ball games and eat foods that are round, such as meatballs, melon balls or date balls.

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