Winter is a time for wonder and excitement, and sensory activities are a fantastic way to engage adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDDs) in the season's magic. These activities not only offer fun and stimulation, but also foster skills such as communication, social interaction, and fine motor development. Here's a curated selection of winter sensory activities that are great for adults with IDDs and engage sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound.
Activities that engage sight can range from simple to complex, depending on the individual's abilities and interests. Ideas include:
Jigsaw puzzles and model building. These activities enhance focus and concentration while allowing for creativity.
Nature walks and botanical experiences. Exploring nature or visiting a botanical nursery provides a visually stimulating experience with varied colors and shapes.
Glow-in-the-dark painting. This activity is not only visually stimulating, but also exciting as it reveals a hidden image in the dark.
Touch is a vital sensory experience, and related activities can be both therapeutic and fun. Consider any of the following:
DIY stress balls. Creating stress balls with balloons and cornstarch can be a calming and tactile experience. In addition, stress balls continue to be useful long after the fun of making them is over.
Sensory bins. Filling a bin with different textures like dry rice, pasta, or even Play-Doh can provide a varied and satisfying tactile experience.
Crafting with textures. Engaging in crafts like papier-mâché or jewelry-making can stimulate the sense of touch while fostering creativity.
The sense of smell is closely linked to memory and emotions. Try:
Scented crafts. Making candles with essential oils or creating art with scented markers can be both enjoyable and therapeutic.
Cooking and baking. Preparing a recipe and smelling the different ingredients can be a delightful sensory experience — as can the final product.
Taste-focused activities offer an opportunity to explore new flavors and textures. Ideas include:
Exploratory food tasting. Trying new types of foods can be an enjoyable experience that also involves some critical thinking and communication skills. Experiment with less commonly known fruits, cheeses, nuts, and more.
Comparative food or beverage tasting. You can really amp up the critical thinking by comparing several examples of the same type of food.
Sound-based activities can be both calming and stimulating. Consider:
Music. Listening to various types of music can be relaxing and engaging, especially if everyone discovers new genres or artists to enjoy.
Nature sounds. Listening to nature sounds (either outside or from a recording) can foster an appreciation of the outdoors and a connection with the current season.
Storytelling and reading aloud. These activities not only engage the sense of hearing, but also encourage imagination and language skills. For extra stimulation, consider engaging with stories that involve lots of sound effects.
Winter-Themed Sensory Activities
Incorporating a more deliberate winter theme into sensory activities can be especially exciting. Ideas include:
Snowman crafts and sensory bags. Creating a snowman in a bag with shaving cream or making a snowman-themed sensory bin (containing items like fake snow, felt pieces, beads, etc.) can be a delightful way to enjoy the season.
Snow-related painting and crafts. Painting with a special fluffy snow paint or engaging in snow-themed crafts like q-tip or marble painting offers a cozy and seasonally appropriate good time.
Enjoy Wintertime More With Progressive Lifestyles
Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. is dedicated to providing innovative support services for people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide supportive and caring residential opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Oakland County, Michigan.
A primary focus of our organization is to interact with the individuals we support through the “Culture of Gentleness” model. We seek to create a positive environment to help them feel safe and valued while maximizing praise, limiting demands, maintaining consistent structure, and reducing stress during transitions.