Some kids need to be engaged in some sort of movement all the time. They are never truly still, even when they are concentrating on something else; they are on the move whenever they are given the opportunity. Some are true kinesthetic learners, needing the activity in order to help cement concepts in their minds. Others have disabilities such as ADD or ADHD that makes it difficult for them to concentrate on any one thing at a time. There are even kids who just have such an excess of energy that sitting still in a chair for any period of time feels like torture to them.
Instead of fighting this tendency, embrace it! Give your child a sensory outlet that will allow them to engage their senses of touch and sight, give their minds a break, and let them focus on something besides schoolwork for a little while. Older kids can help you make sensory bags; younger ones will appreciate the chance to play with them.
Ziplock brand bags—quart size (make sure they’re either name brand, or a generic brand that you know will hold up under a lot of pressure)
Hair gel (the best place to get this is a Dollar Tree—it’s less expensive, and you don’t care about the quality of the gel anyway)
Small toys/beads/crafting materials without sharp edges
1) Squeeze about half a bottle of hair gel into the Ziplock bag (I told you that you wanted cheap gel!).
2) Add a couple of drops of food coloring (or more, until you get your desired color, but add it slowly—it can get overwhelmingly dark in a hurry!)
3) Add glitter, small toys, or crafting materials. Remember to keep an eye on those sharp edges—you don’t want them to poke through the bag. (Trust me. These things make a mess if they end up getting cut open. It’s worse if you don’t realize that they’ve been cut open and put them away first.)
4) Close the bag. Seal it with duct tape. If your child tends to be rough, duct tape all the way around the edges of the bag, too.
5) Squish! This will help mix in the food coloring and glitter, distributing it evenly throughout the bag.
Make an underwater bag with blue food coloring, plastic fish, and other aquatic life. During the summer, Dollar Tree often has packs of inflatable fish.
Make a dinosaur bag—we used green food coloring, then added plastic dinosaurs and a few “leaves.” You could do this with real leaves, but the bag would deteriorate faster.
Make a pink sparkly bag for your little princess—a couple of drops of red food coloring, pink glitter, and whatever “princess” icons you have sitting around: sparkling stars, miniature crowns, etc. Stickers are also great!