Guidelines for Creating a DIY Sensory Box

A DIY sensory box can be an effective resource to help develop your child's sensory processing skills.  Essentially, a sensory box contains items in it that can help your child manage their sensory processing problems like being over-stimulated, sensory seeking or under-responsive and lethargic. You can help your child with their sensory processing skills by creating a DIY sensory box. Here are some guidelines to do this.

1. Choose a Container

The container size you choose for the sensory box depends on how many kids will play in it. 

Small Sensory Bin

For one or two kids try:

  • A foil roasting pan
  • A shallow cardboard box
  • A shallow Tupperware container
  • A small baking dish
  • Dish tub

Larger Sensory Bin

For more than two kids, try:

  • A large, shallow cardboard box
  • A new, un-used litter box
  • A shallow storage container

2. Choose a Theme

Next, decide on a theme. These can be seasons, holidays, numbers, a place like the beach or zoo, based around a favorite book or a toy theme like cars or dinosaurs.

3. Choose Sensory Items

Fill the sensory box with textured items that are enjoyable to play with, touch and explore. Here are some ideas:

Dry Textures

  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Birdseed
  • Cotton balls
  • Pasta

Wet Textures

  • Water
  • Ice
  • Soap foam
  • Snow
  • Bubbles
  • Pumpkin guts
  • Cooked beans
  • Shaving cream

4. Add Instruments and Tools

Certain theme bins like a farm or car bin won't require tools because the animals and vehicles should be enough. However, if you're creating an experimental bin, your child will be exploring and examining the bin's contents. Some tools and instruments to help are:

  • Tongs
  • Tweezers
  • Small bowls
  • Small spoons
  • Syringes
  • Magnifying glass
  • Muffin tins
  • Measuring cups
  • Basters
  • Baby food jars
  • Ice cube trays
  • Scoops

These instruments and tools help with coordination and fine-motor skills.

There are no standard instructions or recipe for putting a sensory box together. Observe your child and see what they respond to or get feedback from their teacher or pediatric occupational therapist.

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