The sensory gym is one of the most exciting things about our move to the new Frenchs Forest clinic! It is loaded with fun equipment that helps target different skills vital for a child’s development. Including fine motor, gross motor, cognitive and social skills, just to name a few. Although we love everything in the gym, here are some of our top favourite activities that our OTs and the kids equally love!
This swing is made out of strong, stretchy lycra and has four different layers. We call it the ‘Cloud’ as it is suspended in the air. Not only is it super fun, but it also targets so many different skills:
- Motor planning and coordination – Kids need to work out how to climb up into the swing and back out, or even how to move from one layer to the next. We also love to add the extra challenge of making an obstacle course to encourage kids to remember how they need to be moving their bodies.
- Sensory input – There’s lots of bouncing, jumping and swinging involved, which helps kids better understand movement and where their body is in space.
- Regulation – Depending on the child’s needs, this swing can help calm them down or increase their alertness. This is useful for maintaining their attention and managing their body’s level of arousal.
- Core strength – Kids need to constantly move their bodies to stay balanced, giving their core muscles a good workout!
Rock Climbing Wall
Our Rock Climbing Wall, scattered with multicoloured rocks for kids to hold onto and climb to the top. It sure unleashes the cheeky little monkeys hidden within them! Our kids are great climbers as they develop a range of skills:
- Gross motor skills and upper body strength – Climbing up and down is sure to work up a sweat, building a child’s muscle strength, particularly in their arms and core. This will help develop a strong base of support for writing. Climbing also improves their reach and flexibility as they stretch for the rocks above their heads!
- Fine motor skills – This one is great for increasing a kid’s finger and hand strength and grasping skills.
- Motor Planning skills – From planning how to get up, making decisions of which rock to hold, to problem-solving their way up the wall, rock climbing challenges a kid’s brain to work in so many ways!
- Sense of achievement – Getting up to the top is no easy feat. Kids may brave their fears to give it a go, or they may climb higher than last time. They have every reason to be confident and proud of themselves!
Coupled with a wooden incline ramp, the scooter board is like a mini square skateboard. Kids can lie on the board on their tummies or sit on the board, and push themselves around on the floor or race down the ramp while targeting several things:
- Overall muscle strength – This is an excellent workout for the child’s core and upper and lower limbs. Kids need to keep their bodies off the ground as they zoom around, developing those vital muscles that will help them stay seated and upright.
- Sensory input – For kids who may be a bit more sensitive to movement, the scooter board is an excellent way to increase their tolerance.
- Balance – Rolling around on the board requires a good sense of balance. Kids climbing up the ramp will also need to compensate for their posture to make it up the incline.
A true classic that everyone enjoys! There’s just something about jumping up and down on a trampoline that is so much fun! The best part is that it also has lots of benefits:
- Cardiovascular endurance – A quick and easy way to get their heart pumping, kids can get a good dose of their daily exercise on the trampoline.
- Balance and coordination – Kids need to work hard to stay upright and on their feet. If they do lose a bit of their footing, kids can also develop their ability to self-correct themselves!
- Regulation – Repetition of jumping up and down gives kids plenty of vestibular and proprioceptive input. This can have a calming or arousing effect that helps kids regulate the big emotions they are feeling.
- Big smiles – The trampoline is fun and exciting and helps to release happy hormones in our kids. Everyone enjoys a good jump!
This large board has a variety of household and everyday items, as well as some fun toys. It’s almost like stumbling across a load of treasure! Similar to the numerous amounts of things to explore, there are also multiple skills these fidgets target:
Fine motor skills – This one’s great for functional skills such as grasping objects, opening and closing items, in-hand manipulation, practising pincer grasps, etc. The possibilities are endless!
- Sensory input – Not only is the board full of different colours, but kids also get to feel different textures and explore all the different sounds the objects can make.
- Engagement and joint attention – There are so many different goodies for the kids to explore; they are often naturally drawn towards it as soon as they step into the room and can stay in front of it for ages! We also use it as a way to encourage kids to focus on the same thing as us.
- Pretend play – Kids love pretending to use the fidgets, such as calling someone with the phone or getting letters from the postbox.
- Creativity and problem solving – Some objects may not be familiar, so kids need to get their brain juices flowing to explore different ways of interacting with the board! Kids need to develop flexible thinking to help them solve problems they may come across at home or school.
Ramp and Slide
A must-have for playgrounds, kids love going down the slide over and over again! They can choose to climb up the ladder or the incline ramp onto the platform before whooshing down the slide with a big smile. Some skills that kids can develop include:
Bilateral coordination – Kids need to use both arms simultaneously to climb the ladder or pull themselves up using the rope. This also helps to improve their arm strength.
Social skills – The slide is something kids will find at the park or in their school playground, so it’s an excellent opportunity for them to learn how to negotiate, share and take turns with others!
Motor planning – Kids can practice coordinating their bodies to get up onto the platform. They also need to organise themselves and sit down at the top of the slide.
Regulation – There’s lots of vestibular and proprioceptive input from sliding down and crashing into the cushions. This whole-body movement can help a child to regulate their arousal levels.
The zipline has a suspended seat that kids can sit or stand on. It slides along a wire cable from one end of the room to the other, almost like an amusement ride! As fun as it is, the zipline also has lots of benefits:
- Adventurous play – Kids can learn about personal boundaries and capacities from their own experience in a safe and supervised environment.
- Upper body strength – When kids stand on the seat, there’s the extra challenge of holding on to the handles above their head, and this develops their arm muscles and grip strength.
- Sensory input – Speeding down the zipline can help increase a child’s tolerance of movement. Add on the crash pit of cushions at the end, and kids are bound to get plenty of vestibular and proprioceptive input in a fun way!
- Confidence – So many thrills of height and speed! Kids will have a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem once they reach the end of the zipline.
There are so many different ways our sensory gym can be used! Kids get to enjoy themselves during Occupational Therapy sessions whilst developing heaps of skills. We hope the kids continue having fun and filling the gym with their smiles and giggles!