DIY Fall Sensory Box
by Isabelle Spence, MT-BC
Are you looking for a fall or Halloween-themed activity to pumpkin spice up your therapy practice this season? Look no further!
This unique activity is a hit with my clients and is a tried and true staple in my autumn rotation. Not only is it fun for clients, but it is also engaging and enjoyable as a facilitator. Connect with your playful, festive side and create your own Fall or Halloween Sensory Box!
Disclaimer: This activity utilizes a wide variety of objects involving various textures, sounds, and smells. Be mindful of your clients’ individual sensory triggers and aversions and use your best professional judgment each time you implement this activity.
First things first: Be sure to establish a budget with yourself! If you’re like me, it can be easy to get carried away when shopping for activities and things to use with clients. Especially in the spook-tacular holiday section! The first year I did this, I kept my costs under $10 and kept all mystery objects in a tote bag. It was just as magical! This year, I upgraded my materials, but my total costs still stayed under $35.
What You’ll Need
- A container of any size, shape, or design. You might choose a decorative container (or DIY!), or you may choose to leave the outside of your box plain so that it can be used for different seasons, holidays, or events.
- Fall or Halloween objects of your choice. Seek objects that appeal to specific senses! The more items in the box, the more your box can be reused.
- Optional: A lid or cover for your container which keeps your items organized, but can also build mystery and suspense for your clients!
Where to Shop: This year, I found the majority of my objects from a local dollar store and Walmart. Target also has an impressive selection of Halloween/fall objects in the $1-$5 section. Don’t be afraid to get creative or crafty with it either!
Sensory Box Recommendations:
- First and foremost, choose items that are easy to disinfect.
- Visual items that light up, have interesting patterns, or are multi-colored.
- Auditory items such as musical instruments, noisemakers, and even sound recorders.
- Olfactory items with a signature scent such as candles, lotions, and even car air-fresheners!
- Tactile items with unusual shapes or that possess notable textures and materials
- Gustatory items such as individually wrapped candies or objects that are inedible and shouldn’t be put in mouths but can still elicit memories of taste. In my practice, I personally omit edible items due to allergy and safety concerns, but in some circumstances this could be a safe way to engage the senses of our clients.
What’s in My Box?
So glad you asked!
- Originally, I used an instrument tote bag, but this year I upgraded to a Jack O’Lantern trick or treating bucket
- A battery operated light up ghost (visual, tactile)
- Straw scarecrow with hay and burlap (visual, tactile, auditory)
- Cobweb decoration (tactile)
- Stuffed pumpkin (tactile, gustatory)
- Stuffed black cat (tactile, auditory)
- Decorative candy apples (tactile, visual, gustatory)
- Foam toadstools (tactile)
- Twine (tactile)
- Skeletons (tactile, visual)
- Plastic spiders (tactile)
- Acrylic sweater, dog-sized (tactile, visual)
- Bat squeaking toy (auditory, tactile, visual)
- Vampire teeth (visual, tactile)
- Pinecones (tactile, olfactory)
- Acorns (tactile, olfactory)
- Witch hat hair clip (tactile, visual)
- Witch fingers, wearable (tactile, visual)
- Plastic stretchy snakes (tactile, visual)
- Cauldron mug (tactile, visual)
Picture ID: A large orange bucket with a Jack-o-lantern face sitting on top of a brown wicker chair. The bucket contains various Halloween/fall objects: a white ghost with black eyes, orange stuffed pumpkin, clear plastic small skeleton, a straw scarecrow wearing a red and black plaid vest over an orange shirt and gray burlap pants with a triangular black and orange hat, and a black cat with a black and white spider web collar and an orange bowtie.
How to Use Your New Sensory Box:
I use my box differently depending on the needs of each client. Some ideas include:
- Object recognition and recall
- Sequencing objects
- Spooky sounds improvisation
- Tactile guessing game (without visual cues)
- Singing repeated consonant sounds/alliteration
- Improvised movement
You may also compose your own festive chant or spooky song to accompany your box.
Sensory boxes are so fun and a guaranteed hit with clients and facilitators alike. They are also highly adaptable for holidays and seasons.