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How The Instagram Slime Craze Can Actually Help Kids

Don’t lie to yourself. The kids probably watch them but, secretly inside, you’re loving all those slime video flooding the Internet as much as they are. They’re just so satisfying!

The slime craze has taken the internet by storm, and it’s a wonderful in the way it encourages to people to use sensory play to decompress and focus. But, as fun as slime play is, it can also be somewhat limiting due to the mess or its consistency. That’s where hand putty comes in.

Hand putty, the long-lost great-grandfather of slime, is used by therapists and teachers alike in activities that would make slime ooze with jealousy.  Here are just a few reason why putty can sometimes be a better alternative to slime.

Putty vs Slime in the Classroom

While making slime in the classroom is a great activity that combines science and sensory play, there are oftentimes a lot of downfalls. It’s messy, involves a lot of glue, is difficult to keep fresh and/or clean, and isn’t realistically an everyday play tool.

On the other hand (pun intended), hand putty is ready to play with right out of the tin, easily portable, and will probably last as school year if not longer. Putty is also thicker and more difficult to manipulate, which means less oozing and more engagement as kids stretch, twist, and squish. This makes putty one of the best classroom tools for kids who need daily sensory breaks. Speaking of sensory uses…

Putty vs Slime as a Sensory Tool

Hand putty is a great way to get tactile defensive and/or sensitive kids, or kids with sensory processing difficulties, desensitized. It’s thickness forces hand joints and muscle to get working, too, which can help calm little sensory seekers.

And while slime has a specific, well, “slimy” feel, that cold, residue-y feeling isn’t for everyone. Hand putty is typically kept at room temperature to the touch and doesn’t leave any residue on hands, which is a great feature for anyone with sensory processing difficulties that needs sensory play but dislikes sticky sensations.

Putty vs Slime as a Fine Motor Tool

With versatile uses, putty can not only help kids who need a sensory fix, it can help kids with hand strengthening and fine motor skills. Putty play and exercises can build intrinsic palm strength, and individual finger strength.

A simple activity can be done with a few playing marbles or coins. Teachers or therapists can toss a few marbles into the putty so that kids can sharpen their fine motor skills and strength by trying to dig them out.

Putty: A Great Slime Alternative

eSpecial Needs offers a variety different types of putty to engage many of the senses and suit a variety of needs. We have scented ones, colorful putties, glittery putties, color changing putties, UV activated putties… You name it, we probably have it.

And hand putty isn’t just for kids! It’s been used a lot to rehabilitate adults who have had surgery in their hands or arms or need to re-learn dexterity or hand functions. For a list of activities that you can do to strengthen your hands or your kiddo’s hands, check out this handy article from Very Well Health.

So while those satisfying slime videos are amazing, don’t forget about hand putty when planning your sensory play. Both putties and slime give kids (and big kids) sensory break options that improve their hand health and fine motor skills. When you put it all together in the classroom, it’s a great, trendy toy and activity that almost anyone can benefit from using.

 


How To Increase Attention Spans with Active Seating

It’s hard to sit still for long periods of time. You know the feeling. It can be especially tough for kids in school. You probably remember being a kid and getting squirmy in class. With high energy and active minds, it’s sometimes a challenge for a kiddo to just stay still and pay attention to curriculum and learning for extended periods of time without breaks that engage their other senses.

Fidgeting kids shouldn’t just be mandated to just sit still and focus on the task at hand. Studies have shown that students that utilize physical activity during the school day have increased focus for on-task behavior.

That said, teachers can’t create an effective learning environment when students won’t sit in one place. To keep little minds focused on big learning, it’s a great idea to introduce active seating in a classroom setting.

What is active seating?

Active seating, flexible seating, dynamic sitting, unsupported sitting, or whatever you want to call it, gives children a chance to wiggle, wobble, or move their body in a controlled manner while they sit. This movement keeps sensory systems controlling balance and muscle-use engaged. With these systems getting the input they crave, the child is able to move their focus back to seated activities and classroom listening. “Simply put, physical activity will help kids learn better.

Active seating options

Now you’re probably wondering, “What can I use for active seating?” Glad you asked. eSpecial Needs has been outfitting parents and teachers alike with active seating solutions for years, and we’ve got lots of ideas to share. Check out this fun infographic we made to highlight some active seating examples that have been favorites among our customers.

Each of these examples approaches active seating from a different angle.

 

  • The rounded bottom of Kore Wobble Chairs provides allows children to wiggle a bit as they perform seated tasks. This subtle input to core muscles and their vestibular system promotes focus and attention, but in a non-disruptive way that’s great for classrooms.
  • Featuring a non-slip surface and stability-priding “feet,” Balls With Feet let users wiggle and squirm without falling over. Just a little added bounce in a child’s day can really improve alertness.
  • Yoga ball chairs or ball chairs help improve balance, stability, and posture, while increasing blood flow to the legs. The rolling wheels and back of the chair provide more traditional stability for the user, while remaining actively sitting and engaged.
  • The Yogibo line of soft, versatile bean bag chairs provide cozy sensory input and stability while also allowing for movement. These are great for home-use, and they create classroom reading areas kids love to spend time in.
  • The Height Adjustable T-Stool is the classic active seating solution many schools reach for when working with kids who have trouble sitting still. T-stools engage lots of sensory input needs by keeping joints and muscles active, resulting in a much more focused sensory-seeking student.

 

The options don’t end there, though. If you’re in need of more ideas and choices for active seating, we have an entire section of products listed on our website. If you’ve got questions about active seating, contact our Customer Service Department at 1-877-664-4565. Active seating is a proven tool for increasing focus and attention in the classroom, and we’d love to help to students in your classroom reach their highest potential.

 


Spend Your St. Louis Summer Doing Some Sensory-Friendly Activities

There are so many activities and events that fill the days of Summer, but what if your child needs an event with a sensory-friendly approach? We asked our friend Stephanie Shyken at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in St. Louis to name a few of her local favorites. Even if you don’t live here in St. Louis, you may be able to find something similar in your city!

Summer is finally here! With school out for a while, your kids probably have a lot of time on their hands. Luckily, there are lots of fun and sensory-friendly activities going on throughout the season. Here’s just a few I’ve come up with to help fill your days with summertime joy.

Pizza and Games at Chuck E. Cheese’s Sensory Sunday

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders partners with Chuck E. Cheese the first Sunday of every month and opens its doors 2 hours early for Sensory Sunday. During this time, Chuck E. Cheese reduces the lighting and noises from the games. This is meant to be a judgmental free zone! The current location that offers this is: 720 S. COUNTY CENTERWAY, ST LOUIS, MO 63129. Come join us one Sunday!

Sensory-Friendly Storytelling at the St. Louis Public Library

Sensory Story Time is a free program for kids ages 3 to 9. During the story telling, they uses props, toys, and objects to learn in multiple formats! The St. Louis Libraries offer noise cancelling head phones to reduce the volume and cover up the florescent lights. The Weber Road Branch has story telling the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at 6:30pm. Prairie Commons Branch hosts this the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm. Finally, the Daniel Boone Branch hosts the 1st and 3rd Thursday at 6:30 starting in July 2018.

Share Some Popcorn at a Sensory-Friendly Movie

Who doesn’t love to relax and watch a movie?! The AMC Classic Creve Coeur 12 offers sensory friendly movie times. During the movie the lights will be turned on and the sound will be lowered. Families will not be judged for anyone getting up and walking around, dancing, shouting, or singing! The program is offered the second and fourth Saturday and Tuesday evenings every month. The movies this month are The Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2 and Show Dogs.

Enjoy Sensory Saturdays at the St. Louis Zoo

Finally, the St. Louis Zoo is my favorite part of summer! The second Saturday of every month the St. Louis Zoo offers a sensory break area with fidgets, pillows and other accommodations. Zoo staff members have been trained in order to work with kids with special needs. Admission does cost to enter, for more information about Sensory Saturdays, email bharrison@stlzoo.org, call (314) 646-4730.

These are just four activities to look forward to. Lots of other attractions, parks, and community centers off sensory-friendly events, so take some time to check with those place online or with a phone call. No matter what you do, have a great summer!

Stephanie Shyken is a Clinical Supervisor with The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). Founded in 1990, CARD is the largest ABA provider nationwide with nearly 200 centers in 32 states. Here in St. Louis, CARD works as an in-home ABA provider, working hard to help the local community find and receive essential resources and services. CARD also operates a center just across the river in O’Fallon, Illinois.   One of Stephanie favorite things about working with  CARD is that they do not have a waitlist, allowing for clients to receive services, after completing the paperwork process, within a timely manner. For more information about CARD, visit www.centerforautism.com or call 636-438-0360.