Fun Indoor Sensory Activities, Part 7

Part 7 of 9: Sensory and reasoning games for the win!

Focus on fun
When your child is ready for calmer activities, suggest playing a reasoning game (that improves focus and concentration), such as:

I spy
“I spy” is a guessing game where the players take turns being the Spy, or “It.” The Spy mentally chooses an object within sight and says to the other players, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter …”, naming the first letter of the object. The other player(s) attempt to guess the object, either by guessing everything they can see beginning with that letter, or with the help of further clues.

If you’re playing with more clues, the players narrow down their search by asking yes-or-no questions such as “Is it on a high shelf?” or “Is it alive?”

If the other players can’t figure it out and frustration looms, the Spy can offer other clues, such as saying “Hot” when a guess is close or “Cold” when it is not.

Variation: Substitute the initial letter for an adjective such as the color of the object; for example, “I spy with my little eye something yellow” or for its shape “I spy with my little eye something square.”

Twenty Questions
Take turns being “It” and the player whose turn it is mentally chooses a person, place, or thing. 

Talk with your child about the basic rules/suggestions beforehand, such as:— Be sure to choose someone or something that you are familiar enough with to be able to answer basic questions — If you choose a person, that person can be alive, an historical figure, or a fictional character  — Be sure to choose a person, place, or thing that the other player or player knows about. Of course, you can add any other rules or suggestions that are appropriate for your family. 

The guesser(s) ask general yes-or-no questions to try to figure out what “It” is thinking of. 

You might want to advise your child to start with general questions and then get more specific. For example, the logical starting point is:   

“Is it a person?”   

“Is it a place?”   

“Is it an object?”

Depending on whether it’s a person, place, or object, further questions might be:   

“Is it a real person?”   

“Is it a person in a book?”   

“Is it a girl?”   

“Is it in this house?”   

“Is it in this city?”

If your child asks a question that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no,” help her to rephrase it. For example, if he asks “How old is the person?” you might suggest that they choose an age and ask if the person is older (or younger) than that age, i.e., “Is the person younger than 25?” 

You can either play until 20 questions total have been asked, or until each player asks 20 questions (unless someone guesses correctly before then), or even until someone gets the right answer, depending on your child’s attention span.

Geography (AKA “last letter game”)
The original version of this game is played with geographical locations. The first player names any geographical location (city, country, ocean, etc.), and the next player names a location beginning with the last letter of the first location. So if player one says “Kansas,” player two might say “South America” or “Seattle.” The game continues until a player is cannot think of a place beginning with the appropriate letter.

If your child is young, or simply not that familiar with world geography, choose any theme. Animals? Food? Clothing?

Grandmother’s purse
This is a memory game. The first player says something such as, “In grandmother’s purse I found a book.” The next player repeats the first player’s object and adds one of her own, like this: “In grandmother’s purse I found a book and her kitten.” Alternate turns, repeating all the previous objects and adding a new one of your own each time. 

Variations: — If this is a lot for your child to remember, you can set a limit on the number of objects per round, plus there are many possible variations on the rules, such as:        

• Go in order of the alphabet (i.e., I found an apple, a book, a cookie, etc.)        

• Do ‘last letter’ as in the game above this one (i.e., I found an apple, an earwig, a giraffe, etc.)        

• List only objects that start with the same letter (i.e., I found a dandelion, a doll, a dish, etc.)        

• List only objects in a particular category (fruit — a banana, a peach, cherries? toys — a doll, a lego set, a baseball bat? animals — a rhinoceros, a baboon, a squirrel?)

— You can adapt the premise to any situation you like, i.e., “I’m going camping and I packed a ____ in my backpack.” 
Be creative and make up your own variation and/or scenario!

It all makes sense
Sensory games are also enjoying calming activities.

What’s in the bin?
Hide small familiar objects in a sensory bin — a container filled with uncooked pasta, beans, rice, etc. — and have your child use his hands to sift through the bin with his eyes closed (or with a scarf tied around his eyes as a blindfold) to locate and identify them only by feel. You might hide a stone, large shell, block, spoon, napkin, Lego figure or any small toy, favorite tiny stuffed toy, chalk, coin, craft stick, paper clip, pipe cleaner, pom pom, button, envelope, Q-tip, cardboard cylinder, puzzle piece, straw, sock, googly eye, etc. 

Variation 1:
Combine the search with a variation on “20 Questions.” Have your child search (eyes closed or blindfolded) through the sensory bin once per question. If she finds the object before she guesses what it is, she has the advantage of touching it to help her determine what questions to ask. If he guesses what it is before he finds it, he keeps searching tactilely until he locates it. 

Variation 2:
Stash a familiar object in a bag and have your child identify it only by feel. Use a bag that is soft enough so she can try to identify it by feeling it through the bag and then, if it’s not identifiable that way, she can put her hand into the bag to actually touch it.

No peeking!

Set up a secret sanctuary
First you and your child can have a good time constructing an elaborate blanket fort or campsite, then you get to relax in it. What could be better?

A fort of one’s own Build a fort in your living room! Push back the furniture to make space and to add supports; bring in dining room chairs if you need them; grab clothespins, chip clips, ropes, sheets, etc. (more details in link). Add some pillows to make it cozy. See this link for inspiration, how-to’s, and a fort-building video for three types of forts:

Camping in..
Turn your fort into a campsite by swapping out the pillows for sleeping bags and adding in a camping light or flashlights. Turn out the overhead lights and teach your child how to make animal shadows with fingers and flashlight beam. Don’t forget the s’mores! (You can toast the marshmallows on top of the stove or melt them in the microwave; if they’re not hot enough to melt the chocolate a little, the microwave can do that as well.)

….or out
Alternatively, if you have a backyard and good weather — plus an actual tent — you can camp out for real!

Looking ahead:
In the next post, we will discuss hands-on sensory activities, such as painting murals and making your own slime. 

Is your child an indoor camper or an outdoor camper? What about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, let me know there or via email what topics you would like to discuss or hear more about. 

Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.

I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,