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Specifically Sensory- Meeting Sensory Needs While You Travel

This blog article was originally posted on my first blog In Our Pond.  I started out trying to put all my travel content on my homeschooling blog, but it grew to be too big.  So, I'm moving all the road trip stuff over here!  It'll probably take me a while to move all the posts, but I'll also be posting new content on here as well.  In Our Pond will now be exclusively for homeschooling and parenting content, while this blog (Party Through the USA) is for all the family travel posts.  Check them both out!

Welcome back for another week of Travel Time Tuesday!  Today is going to be a bit different, since it won't be about crafts I've made.  Instead, I'm going to talk about the things I'll be bringing to meet the sensory needs of our kids during the road trip.

All the kids will have their favorite blankets with them.  When the kids are having a hard time, we encourage them to pull their blankets over their heads.  This provides them with a secure, safe place that smells just right for them and blocks out most other sensory input.  I'm so glad their Auntie made the tie blankets for the kids!  They absolutely love them.

We have been using soft nipple sippy cups, which my kids love.  In an effort to step them into a more "grown up" bottle option, we're going to try Camelbak bite-valve water bottles this trip.  Dragonfly will be getting the Peonies one, Skimmer will love the navy airplane one, and I think Tadpole will like the green dinosaur bottle.  That roughly keeps us to the pink, blue, and green color assignments that we have for our kids.  Of course, we're also buying a couple of extra bite-valve kits, in case they like the biting part too much.


Dragonfly struggles with anxiety, especially in new situations.  She's learning as she grows to trust her mom and dad's assessments and descriptions of situations, but she still has periods of time when her anxiety takes over.  We're in the beginning stages of trying to find things that will work for her, but I think we've found some good tools for her "calm-down kit."

When Dragonfly is anxious, she sometimes gets destructive.  The first thing I thought to add to her sensory kit was something she could destroy.  I included a set of cheap notebooks and stickers.  I thought the act of scratching up the stickers, pushing them down, peeling them back up again, and sticking them down would give her a lot of sensory input that she seems to crave when she's anxious.  If all that fails to satisfy her, I know she'll enjoy tearing up the pages to the notebook (which is why I'm not bringing any real books in the car).  I know many might disagree about encouraging destruction, but each family needs to find what works for their family.  I've found that if I don't specify what Dragonfly is allowed to destroy, then she'll find something else to tear up.

Her desire to destroy when she's anxious is why I'm packing this squishy, stretchy Jelly Octopus in our sensory kit.  This toy is supposed to be pulled on, ripped at, and kneaded.  I think all my kids will enjoy playing rough with him.

It occurred to me that a good way to encourage some constructive destroying would be to give her a paper puncher.  She can either use her notebook pages or some colored paper that I plan on packing to snap and punch aggressively with the paper puncher.  Plus, it's a great way to sneak in some fine motor skills work and get her fingers ready for handwriting.

I also thought these "magic" Rainbow Scratch Papers would be good for handwriting practice.  She'll need to hold the wood "scratcher" like a pencil to make her pictures.  Whether she actually draws or just scratches off all the black, I think the rainbow papers will give her a satisfying constructive destructive activity.  She may even find that she enjoys scratching them with her fingers.  The pack I bought has 50 postcard-sized papers, which should be great for all the kids to do some, both going to our destination and on the way home.

Lastly, Dragonfly's birthday is the week that we leave, so we're going to be giving her a personal CD player (they still make them!), a set of headphones, and some special just-for-her CDs.  I intend to include some mellow music in her set, but she really likes "wild" music played loud (and is her preferred thing to fall asleep to in the car).  Right now, she loves one song on a family CD and asks us to play it over and over and over.  I'm going to make a CD for her of that one song and only that one song.  Aptly named for her calm down kit, the song is called "Do Not Be Afraid."  I think she'll really enjoy the privileged of having her own music to be responsible for, and I'm helping that it will help her tune out when she gets overwhelmed.


Skimmer's biggest challenge on the road trip will be the lack of movement.  We intend to stop at a playground at least once a day to give him the heavy work (proprioception) and active play (vestibular) that his body seems to crave.

In a lot of ways, his sensory needs are the hardest to meet while in the car.  He will probably enjoy all the activities from Dragonfly's kit, except for the headphones.  I have also made him a weighted lap pad with fuzzy things on the outside for fidgeting and "beany baby" weights on the inside to add some proprioception.  I'm hoping the weight will help him sit still longer.

One thing that we've learned really helps Skimmer, not just in the car but all the time, is a chew bracelet.  We been buying ours from Zappy Gums Jewelry on Etsy.  This star bracelet is our favorite.  The seller even resize the bracelets for us to help them fit our children better.  The star gives Skimmer something good to bite instead of chewing on toys, plastic, people, or other non-food things.


I haven't identified any sensory needs with Tadpole, but I'm sure he'll enjoy the octopus, stickers, and rainbow paper like his siblings.  He's the most laid-back of my kids, and will probably be happy just to be included in what the bigger kids are doing.

To read more about sensory satisfaction on the road, check out the following articles:

- Oral Motor Sensory Breaks for Kids

- Sensory Toys You Won't Want to Leave at Home on Your Road Trip

- Sensory Oriented Anxiety Kits for Kids

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