Young children often have difficulties with self-regulation in response to an emotional or sensory-based stressor. We often use strategies in the classroom such as talking to an adult, holding a weighted animal, doing wall push-ups, gently squeezing hands and so on. (see Cozy Corner Strategies – visuals that help children choose how you feel and a strategy to help).
Sensory bottles can be added to the Cozy Corner or Safe Spot in the fidget box. They help children be able to focus on one thing to calm the body and mind. Shaking the bottles, which won’t harm the bottle, is also a great way to get some proprioceptive input.
Bottles can be made in a variety of different ways to accommodate different needs:
Be Kind bottle:
This bottle needs to be shaken. Shaking the bottles, which won’t harm the bottle, is also a great way to get some proprioceptive input.
I Am in Control bottle:
This bottle makes the sound of rain. Sounds in the bottle assists students who are auditory learners and will still their bodies to hear soft sounds more than focusing visually.
1/4th cup of beans, rice or beads (beans and small beads together make very cool sounds)
(add more sticks until it makes a sound that is pleasing to you as you move the bottle upside down and back upright)
Adding items that sink slowly or float to the top and items that sink fast provide children with an immediate satisfaction of action but then also slows their breathing and nervous center as they visually anchor their attention to the items that are moving slowly.
The bottle in the picture contains Perler beads that slowly float to the top and small pony beads which quickly sink to the bottom. It is quite cool to watch when they are both in the middle!
Clear dish soap (I found that Dawn is the thickest and therefore, works great but it is more expensive than other brands. Other brands work just as well, especially if you don’t make one with Dawn first to have a comparison!)
A couple of tablespoons of Perler beads (these are beads that you place on forms and then iron to melt them together).
A couple of tablespoons of pony beads or other small beads. (My beads were very small, so I added double the amount of small beads as compared to the Perler beads).
You can use any container of your choice. My favorite is Voss Water bottles. They are a perfect size and the label comes off so easily and cleanly. The middle bottle is a Protein 20 Drink bottle with rain scenes wrapped around it. I have also used Bai Water bottles- the wrapper comes off VERY easily- just pull up and I cut a circle to glue to the top bottle cap to cover the writing on top.
I used a Cricut to cut the letters but you can also print words on clear shipping labels, cut them out and attach to the bottle. (Words and Rain scene to be printed on 6 per page clear shipping labels)
Remember to glue the lids on!!
I recently had the privilege of working with some amazing teachers at Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK. We discussed the benefits of dramatic play for children and the critical role of children developing complex play within dramatic play experiences for the development of their executive functioning capabilities.
PreK and K teachers are first and foremost teachers of social and emotional skills, self-regulation, attention, engagement, persistence, thinking symbolically, and cognitive flexibility. If students do not first learn these skills, then the academics and life with always be a struggle.
Research links dramatic play activities with the support of the teacher to move students to more complex play as one of the best strategies for developing social/emotional and executive functioning skills.
The teachers developed visual analogies to help us always remember the link. Here are pictures of their insightful analogies. Thanks, Union Teachers!