I’d love to share the best sensory classroom finds that are cheap or even FREE! I suggest that you start collecting items, even if you don’t have an immediate plan for them.
Balloons are easy to find in most bargain stores, with a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes. I use balloons simply blown up to bounce around and throw in the air. Try blowing up the balloons to different pressures, leaving some very squishable. Add balloons to water play, to allow students to explore scientific concepts like: buoyancy, floating and sinking.
I have also made DIY sensory balloons, by filling them with rice, flour, and small beads.
***ALWAYS supervise students with balloons, as they can be a choking hazard.
These ‘Super Mitts’ were 2 EURO in the bargain store. You can find these in the cleaning section, otherwise look for bath mitts in the personal care sections. Look for different fabrics, textures and colours.
My sensory seeking students, who love feeling textures, love wearing them. One particular student rubs her hands when she becpmes anxious, to the point of creating friction burns. She loves the feeling of wearing these mitts, and they provide a distraction from rubbing her hands. The staff also wear them during the student’s sensory massages.
I got 5 lots of these fabric samples FREE from Harvey Norman. They offered me many more, but these things are heavy, so take care carrying them. They are easy to separate the fabric by undoing the screws that are holding them all together. I use these often in my sensory stories, and as texture squares on my sensory wall.
Cotton Wool Balls
(Or as these are called: Cleansing Puffs). They are easy to find, and buy the cheapest brand available! This pack of 300 was 1 EURO from the bargain store.
Great for sensory bins, art and craft, pulling apart, dyeing different colours with powered colour dye. Try adding cotton wool balls to water play. Otherwise spray cotton wool balls with a scent or flavour for your smelling station.
Start collecting cheap lights – these are push button led battery powered lights. But I also have twinkly string lights, and toys with coloured flashing lights. Don’t forget to browse the after Christmas sales.
Lights can be either soothing or stimulating to students with Sensory needs, depending on the light, colour and student. They are great to use in your cardboard box wonderlands. Try covering the lights with coloured cellophane for different colours. I use the push button lights in my sensory stories, to encourage students to participate (also, it ticks off the ’cause / effect’ concept too!).
Don’t forget to use what nature can provide us. During Autumn I get my students to help me collect lots of different Autumn coloured leaves. I use them for art and craft, and as a sensory bin filler.
This net of 5 colourful bath scrunchies were 3 EURO from the supermarket. I find bath scrunchies are a great alternative to hard balls, especially for my students who have poor impulse control and throw balls at staff, students or the classroom. Even if bath scrunchies are thrown, they will do very little damage.
I spray different colours with different scents for a smelling station. I also use these in my colour exploration collections.
Sponges / Foam
These sponges were cheap (2EURO) and I bought them in the house & hardware store. They are colourful, and have texture. Perfect! Use sponges in water play, the squeezing action is also a great hand strengthening activity. Otherwise I use them in my sensory stories, colour exploration, art and craft.
I searched the second hand clothing stores to start my scarf collection. Use them in sensory stories, dress up play box, colour exploration.
See through scarves are ideal, because you can layer them together to create new and interesting colours.
I collect empty clear bottles. These can be recycled and turned into DIY sensory bottles or musical shakers.