Touch is important for overall self regulation and organization of our body. It helps us to understand our surroundings and feel comfortable and secure in both our body and in our environment. Children who have difficulty processing touch sensation may have a hard time understanding the world around them and how to move within it. These children may actively seek out touch experiences or they may avoid certain touch experiences.
A great way to help foster a healthy tactile system is to provide opportunities for a variety of touch experiences. When we provide these experiences through play it allows kids to engage in the sensation for longer as the experience becomes meaningful and joyful.
Here are some ideas on how touch experiences can be incorporated into everyday play.
Pretend you’re a scientist and make a slime experiment. Slime is very popular right now and a great sensory experience! You can either make it with ingredients you have around the house or buy a kit at the store. You can mix in items such as glitter or beads too for a combination of textures.
Texture treasure hunt
- The playground encompasses various types of textures through the many different types of equipment. The playground’s gross motor movements allow touch sensations to be felt throughout the body, not only on the hands. In addition, the jumping and crashing done at a playground is calming and organizing and may help those who over-respond to touch maintain engagement in tactile experiences.
- Make it a treasure hunt and see how many different textures you can find at the park! Look for things that are hard, soft, slippery, hot, bumpy, etc. You can even discuss how each feeling is different.
Mix like a chef
Food incorporates many different types of textures. Have your child help make snacks or simple meals. They can help with things such as spreading/scooping jellies or butters, decorating desserts, or mixing dough. Use foods that they enjoy as an added motivation.
Magician’s magic hat
Pretend you are a magician pulling items out of your magic hat. Have your child close their eyes and pick an item from a bucket or hat. Before they pull the item from the hat, have them identify the item, the texture, or the temperature. You can have them hold the item or even place it on their arms or legs. Then they can have a chance to test you!
Pretend you are a construction worker building a structure. You can do this with either regular sand or using kinetic sand. You can also do this with playdough or clay to explore different textures.
Dig like an archaeologist
Pretend you are an archaeologist (or dinosaur bone hunter) and dig through sand to find dinosaur fossils.
Submerge in a submarine
Hide various treasures/gems in a bucket of water beads. Pretend you are a submarine or mermaid diving into the water to find your lost treasure. Have your child use their hands to search the water beads, finding one item at a time. Once a treasure is found bury it in a bucket of sand to make sure that the pirates will not find it! Do this until all the treasure is found and hidden.
Scoop ice cream
Pretend you are working at an ice cream shop. Have your child take ice cream orders and then create the orders using playdough. You can also have your child create his/her own signature treat and then try to guess what they made!
Sensational trip to the spa
Turn your house into a home spa! You and your child can paint each other’s nails, put on a face mask, put on lotion, use makeup brushes to put on pretend makeup, etc.
Paint you as a masterpiece
Pretend you are an artist painting a masterpiece!
- Have your child pretend to be the art canvas and use a dry paintbrush to paint themselves. Ask your child what color they are painting themselves, what type of design, etc. to keep the play going.
- You can try out different ways to create art such as finger painting, watercolor, paper mâché, clay, beads, etc. You can even create an art show for family and friends with all the pieces your child has created!