5 fun creative and therapeutic activities for children
Updated: Aug 27, 2021
This blog is just a few of my recommends for art activities to keep kids entertained and help with emotional regulation at home. Some of these ideas are sensory based experiments/materials which can be particularly engaging useful for emotional regulation goals for some.
Please be mindful that every child’s needs are different and what may be calming to some may be over stimulating to others.
It is a good idea to always supervise and be ready to support with redirecting to a different activity if a material is overstimulating. Use a big tub to keep more fluid materials contained to one place. With fluid materials also avoid leaving large quantities of materials within reach, as some have challenges with regulating impulses when they are enjoying a sensory process. Offering just enough of the ingredients/material for the activity is best.
Slime is a great sensory activity that allows children to mix, feel, squeeze and play with adding colours/glitter. Some children (and adults) find this sensory activity very calming, others find the fluidity of the material over-exciting. Many variations of slime can be made and there are loads of tutorials on youtube. You can try adding sand, shaving foam and other materials for a different texture. It can be kept in an airtight container or sandwich bag for later use.
A word of caution though that this could get messy and trampled in to carpet if your child becomes overexcited or is not good with keeping materials within the boundary of a container. Also, an adult should make the borax solution as too much can turn it acidic which can cause skin irritation (only 1 teaspoon of borax to 1 cup of water, and add a little of this diluted at a time - too much will create a harder flubbery like texture).
Fluffy slime youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTu9IZcao0c&t=64s
Play dough is easily and cheaply made at home with basic every day ingredients (flour, salt, food colouring, oil, water). Having kids mix the dough can also be a fun sensory activity. The dough can be stored in air tight container for quite some time. Other recipes found online also call for cream of tartar which can apparently make it last as long as 6 months. Mixing colours with food dye can leave stains on hands so if this is an issue use food gloves. Play dough is great for some kids to pound and squeeze to get their energy out and help them to exercise problem solving skills and creativity to build things. You could also add popsickle sticks, sticks and leaves from garden and little figurines to add to their play.
Additionally, if your children enjoy playdough, they may also like salt dough which is a similar recipe and can be baked in the oven to make a hard clay like structure which can be painted: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/240641/salt-dough/
Paper clay is a lovely material that is a bit harder to find in craft stores. It is essentially paper pulp mixed with some binder to make a clay like material. It is a little bit more pricey but I recommend this one as it does not leave residue on hands like ordinary clay and is not messy so it can be used inside safely. It's also fun to mix in colours using paints or drawing and painting on dried hardened objects later.
You can find some online at Zart Art, there may be some cheaper brands on ebay or amazon but quality may vary. You can also experiment with making your own and there may be some tutorials on youtube or other blogs.
Poster paints and washable markers
If any parents are nervous about mess in their home but love to see their children get creative I recommend poster paints and washable markers. They all wash away easily and don’t stain clothes! Can be purchased at places like Kmart and all craft stores.
Sensory Bottles are a great mindfulness/emotional regulation tool for children. They can be easily made at home with items you can purchase from $2 shop and grocery shop. There are lots of ways to do this.
Check out this how to guide: https://www.thecreativetoyshop.com.au/blogs/activity-guides/5-easy-sensory-bottles
and this one: https://www.bakerross.co.uk/craft-ideas/kids/colour-mixing-sensory-bottles/
Hope you have some new ideas and get creative this holidays!
Alana Stewart, AThR