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Crazy in the Car- Travelling with Sensory Seekers


While I'm writing this article, I have my son next to me, alternatively yelling in my ear and pinching my arm.  My son (Skimmer- age 7) is a sensory seeker-  he loves loud sounds, wrestling, biting/chewing, pushing, ramming, slamming, and more.  Part of the challenge of being a "sensory mom" is finding ways for my son to meet his physical needs without hurting himself, other people, or the environment/house.  It's a constant learning process for myself and him.

I have thought about this subject many times and have written about it from different angles in the past, too.  This time, I've assembled 50 ideas, which are good for times you're traveling or have to be in confined spaces.  Many of these ideas are also quiet enough for the classroom, appointments, or church services.  The sensory needs covered in this article are AUDITORY (hearing), VISUAL (sight), ORAL (mouth), TACTILE (touch), OLFACTORY (smell), or PROPRIOCEPTIVE (where you are in space).  I even have a special section for babies.

Kids who have a lot of oral needs benefit from healthy snacks that meet their favorite oral sensation.  For example, if your child likes crunchy snacks, then they'll love raw carrots (one of my son's favorite) and whole apples.  If they like soft foods, then they might like applesauce or cheese.  Hummus or nut butter might be good for a child who likes creamy foods.  I have a trick where I test out all the road trip foods on my kids (especially anything new) while we're at home, so I'll know whether they'll enjoy the food away from home.


50 Ways to Meet Sensory Needs While on the Go


1- endlessly pop bubbles with Last One Lost, which can also be used as a travel game

2- sensory bottles can give both visual stimulus and proprioceptive

3- oral seekers can never had enough chew necklaces (also, plan snacks to fit this need too)

4- a loosely threaded string of beads feels great running through your fingers

5- practice braiding hair and tying bows with this Disney's Tangled felt activity board

6- make pictures and designs with a sequin board or pillow, which has a great texture

7- noise-cancelling headphones can be sanity saving with the sounds of the engine (or other passengers) gets too loud

8- keep fingers busy with a bicycle chain fidget

9- help kids relax with a weighted lap pad (short periods only)

10- porcupine balls can be poked into a small plastic container with a hole



11- a short length of thin chain from the hardware store makes a cheap fidget

12- for some extra visual stimuli, pack a few of these water lava lamp bubblers

13- create with these unusual sticky noodles called Wikki Stix

14- kids that like to stick their fingers into small holes might enjoy this PVC pipe necklace

15- smell something fun with these smelly squishy toys- great for olfactory seekers

16- stick your finger in the hole, make a sound, run your fingers along the edges, and more with these poppin pipes

17- DIY mini sensory bins are great for brave parents to pack for seeker kids

18- poke your finger in these "Poke a Dot" board books for a unique experience

19- this magnetic fidget cube doubles as a brain teaser puzzle

20- auditory seeks will love these sound storybooks with so many buttons to push



21- use a staple remover tool to separate metal key rings and add pony beads for a DIY fidget

22- work on fine motor skills with this fun sticker book that doubles as an art project

23- make your own I-spy bag with minimal sewing skills and random stuff from around the house

24- if your kid likes the feel of noodles over your fingers, they'll love this spaghetti ball

25- master builders will adore this Lego travel case for building on the road

26- save some money and provide a good activity for a "picker" with some DIY blind bags made from tin foil

27- this DIY buckle activity pad allows kids to strengthen fingers and fidget at the same time

28- extreme visual stimuli can be gotten with this spinning, light up wand

29- engineering minded kids will love this fidget cube with lots of video game elements

30- DIY play dough kits are great for playing at your destination or on an airplane tray



31- fans of the slinky would like this other spring toy option too

32- if you only have a very small space, this screw fidget fits on the top of a pencil

33- these spiky rings are even smaller for a pocket sized fidget

34- visual seekers will love these puzzle balls that double as a brain teaser

35- tracing the path with your finger is fun with this maze board book

36- kid sized sunglasses are important when spending time in the bright sun

37- my boys love spinning the wheels of the mini Thomas trains and running them on their bodies (get the printable track here)

38- olfactory seeking kids will love these smelly markers (they even come in gross smells!)

39- this travel Spot It game will encourage kids to look beyond the car

40- a classic rubix cube is great for working the brain while keeping the hands busy



Specifically for Babies

41- endless bubble popping toy for babies that's also safe for chewing

42- visual seeks will love watching this corkscrew toy work over and over

43- check out this baby-safe fidget spinner!

44- with this fun watermelon threading toy, toddlers can work on fine motor skills and enjoy the holes and textures

45- tactile seekers (and really all babies) will love these DIY sensory blocks for stacking and touching

46- this ball has lots of nobs with different textures and vibrates, which is good for play time and travel

47- vibrating teethers aren't just for toothaches, they're also good for oral seekers to stimulate their lips, tongue, and teeth, which can be very calming

48- auditory seekers will love this bamboo rainstick instrument

49- stuffed animals with lots of texture and activities attached to it are a good option as well

50- these books claim to not be able to be destroyed, which is amazing for tough kids




I hope you enjoyed this crazy long list of travel toys for sensory seeking kids!  This is a life I live, so it's always on my mind.  I also talk about it quite a bit with other parents, so I've been wanting to write about this for quite a while.  Please let me know if I missed your favorite item from the list.


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