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Gateshead Messy Play
West Moor Messy Play

Super Squishy Sensory Pouches

Blog
03/12/2018

What is a sensory pouch?

Sensory pouches (also known as sensory pads or squishy bags) are usually made from freezer bags/sandwich bags or laminator pouches, filled with objects for the purpose of exploring the senses of touch and sight and developing fine motor skills. They are easy, inexpensive and quick to make. They’re a particularly useful tool for children with sensory processing issues, but anyone of any age can enjoy them.

What are the benefits of using a sensory pouch?

– Fun, relaxing sensory activity

They are tactile, engaging and can be challenging. My eldest boy is a born fiddler, so in amongst all his squishy fiddle toys, he loves the tactile aspect of a sesnsory pouch. My youngest finds the contents really engaging and enjoys the challenge of manouvring objects with a purpose.

 – Fine Motor Development

They encourage children to use their hands & fingers in ways they wouldn’t otherwise, which helps to develop fine motor control (essential for writing) as well as hand-eye coordination. In the age of i-Pads & i-Phones, it really is essential that babies and children are encouraged to use and develop their fine motor skills so they avoid being hindered when it comes to handwriting.

 – No choking hazards

Another great benefit of the sensory pouch is that items which might otherwise present a choking hazard are safely out of the danger zone, but can still be explored by babies & toddlers.

 – Mess-free!

Children who don’t like getting messy get the touchy-feely benefits of the squishy contents whilst keeping their hands (and your carpets) clean!

The possibilities are endless!

Anything goes when it comes to what you put in a sensory pouch! Think about what you want from it: is it for a child who can’t stop fiddling; is it to help strengthen fine motor skills, or just something fun to look at and feel? Do you want a themed sensory activity such as Christmas, underwater, fairies or animals?

How to make a sensory pouch:

For the basic sensory pouch you will need:

  • Laminator pouch* (any size – I used A4)
  • Hair straiteners!
  • Hand gel or hair gel
  • Objects of your choice
  • *You can also use food bags and seal them with Sellotape, but I prefer the robustness of a laminator pouch.

Method:

  • Use the straighteners to seal the 2 long edges of the pouch. Leave the top open to add items.
  • Add hand gel – about 1/3 full.
  • Add colour/glitter if required
  • Add objects
  • Seal the top of pouch with the straighteners.
  • Below I’ll list what was used in the individual pouches.

TIP 1: Using tissue, dry any gel from the edge of the pouch before sealing to ensure it seals properly. The last thing you want is food colour squeezing out onto the sofa!

TIP 2: Expel air from the pouch before sealing. My picture below of the Christmas tree activity shows too much air trapped in the pouch, so it’s not as clear to see or to manipulate the objects.

Christmas sensory pouches:

In addition to the above, I used:

  • Glitter
  • Craft foam cut into a Christmas Tree
  • Craft Gems from Home Bargains

This is a fun Christmas tree-decorating activity . It encourages hand-eye coordination and the use of fine motor skills. Little hands can slide the gems around in the gel to move them onto the parts of the tree they want to decorate. Added bonus: you are free to decorate your real tree with an even, aesthetically pleasing spread of decorations!

Themed pouches:

In addition to the items listed for the basic pouch I used:

  • small plastic sea creatures
  • blue food colour (a drop)
  • glitter

                           

The feel of the sea creatures swimming in the blue, glittery gel is an engaging sensory activity and children love making the sea creatures come to life by swimming around in their aquarium.

 

Fine Motor Games:

In addition to the items listed for the basic pouch I used:

  • A printed & laminated maze game (stuck to the back of the outside of the pouch so gel doesn’t get in, as can happen even to laminated paper).
  • A marble

   

This is brilliant for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination – the marble needs to be manouvred through the gel, along the tight constraints of the maze from start to finish.

So if you get a free afternoon on a rainy Sunday, why not give it a go? Anything really does go for these pouches – expect a bit of trial and error (as I did) but the results really are worth it!
Alex from Little Learners Bournemouth, Poole & Christchurch

Bournemouth, Poole & Christchurch

 

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