It’s amazing to me how much I look back and see how the Lord completely prepared me for years before we brought our son home. Our son has SPD, or, Sensory Processing Disorder, and I sometimes can’t believe how much my “other life,” what I studied in college and what my job was, prepared me for caring for my son.
SPD has so many variations, and for our son, he is a sensory-seeker and needs lots of proprioceptive input and activity. Starting my freshman year in college, I started working for a company as a children’s fitness instructor. It was such a fun job and it required me to think on my feet, be really creative and come up with as many new things with one piece of equipment that could keep 20 three-year-olds’ attention for at least 3 minutes. Little did I know, that job prepared me for my son’s sensory needs!
Sensory equipment is needed and amazing, but it’s also super-expensive. I found out, though, it doesn’t have to be. I used my past experience to be creative with things from the dollar store. So, SPD moms, here are my 25 hacks of what you can do just using a pool noodle. And whether or not your child has any sensory issues, it is important for all children to get enough physical activity and sensory integration every day. Do this together, and I promise it will be a workout for you too. You’ll have fun together and build that bond, so win-win.
Step 1, buy some pool noodles (3-5 will do), and cut them down to various sizes. Then, play! Pictures at the end for some reference.
- Make 2 lines a couple of feet apart. Hands hold onto one side, feet on the other, and sideways bear crawl down.
- Do #1, but turn and face the other way so you are leading with the opposite side.
- That same setup above, feet and hands go on either side, and bear crawl down forward.
- Do #3, but go backwards!
- With the noodles in a straight line, keep feet together and jump over side to side, all the way down.
- Same set up as #5, jump open (feet straddling either side of the noodles), jump and close (feet go on the noodles). This will work on vestibular balance as well.
- Airplane arms, and walk across like a balance beam.
- Balance beam, walk on tip toes.
- Balance beam, crawl on hands and knees (lots of balance work here).
- Set the pool noodles up like hurdles on the floor, and jump over several in a row.
- #10 set up with tuck jumps.
- #10 set up with frog jumps.
- #10 set up with bear crawls, but don’t touch the noodles!
- #10 set up with crab walks, keep those belly buttons high and don’t touch the noodles!
- Sit with legs straight out, feet flexed, hold a short pool noodle and pretend you are rowing a boat (sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” while you do it to improve motor memory and audio processing).
- #15, point toes, roll the noodle slowly down to your toes and back up to your chest.
- #15, lift your legs a couple of inches off the ground and “paddle” side to side (moms, this is a great ab workout).
- Stand up, hold the pool noodle in both hands and do some bicep curls.
- #18, triceps (hold it vertical and go down and up behind your head).
- Lunges holding noodle at chest so you don’t bend at the waist.
- Sit down with the pool noodle in a table-top position, with hands on noodle behind you. Lift up, do some tricep dips.
- #21, but flip over and do some push ups.
- #22 but hold plank.
- #22 but do some mountain climbers.
- Lay down flat on back or stomach, and roll the pool noodle up and down child’s body giving them some pressure. Take turns and let them do it to you too!
Now, my child is nearly 4 years old, this is hard work. The noodles will move some, but that’s ok that’s part of balance. You can definitely modify these things to fit your child’s needs, development, and age. We also don’t do all 25 of these in one go, because I’m telling you it IS a workout. I like to take this activity and break it up throughout the day. Do 4-5 (or 10 minutes worth) at a time. You can see from my blurry pictures below that he is having a blast. Want this in an easy, free printable to do with your kiddo? Click here to enjoy!