Sensory balloons are ordinary balloons filled with tactile materials that are great for squeezing, squidging, poking and moving around in your hands. They can be used a bit like a stress ball for relaxation and sensory stimulation. Sensory balloons encourage physical and sensory exploration and can be used to create a fun and satisfying activity. They can also give proprioceptive feedback, which can be grounding and support a sense of where the hands are in relation to the rest of the body.
What you need
- Small bottle, e.g. drinks bottle
- Small spoon or lollipop stick
- Contents e.g. flour, hair gel, rice, popping corn, water beads. If the person has a tendency to explore with their mouth, ensure that the contents are safe for them to do this.
Guidance and instructions
- Take the lid off the bottle and discard it. Cut around the top of the bottle about 1 inch/3 cms from the top.Turn this piece over and you will have a funnel.
- Blow the balloon up and let the air out to stretch to make bigger sensory balloons.
- Stretch the end of the balloon around the funnel.
- Pour the contents down the funnel into the balloon.
- Knot or tie the balloon securely.
- You can use two balloons, one inside the other to make it stronger.
- Enable the person to get involved in making the sensory balloons as much as they can, would like to and is safe. Making them can provide an opportunity for fun and exploratory messy play. Messy play encourages us to use our hands, stretch our forefinger and other fingers and open and close our hands and make patterns with our fingers.
- Experiment with different textures and tactile experiences using different contents. Be careful not to overwhelm the person with too many at one time.
Then, support the person to explore as they wish and at their own pace. They can:
- See it
- Feel it
- Shake it
- Squeeze it
- Hold in one hand
- Pass to other hand
- Take turns with another person
What to observe, assess and record
- Watch for facial expressions and body language that may indicate what the person likes or dislikes.
- Notice any developments in hand and fine motor skills and celebrate their accomplishments to foster improved self-esteem.
- How are they before, during and after the activity?
- What impact does playing with sensory balloons appear to have on their mood, anxiety levels and general wellbeing?
© Sarah Hall, Willows Sensory Service
Email: [email protected]
See ‘Willows Sensory’ on Instagram and Facebook where Sarah posts ideas most days
Created October 2020