Homemade Sensory Toys for Kidmin

Kelly Sapp,  Director of the Champions Special Needs Ministry for Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, CA shares below her ideas for a couple of homemade sensory toys and activities to use in the church setting. The sensory jars are great tools to keep on hand for kids to play with at various times during their church experience.  Perhaps a novelty item like this accompanies a child as she goes with her buddy to the typical environment.  Or saving a toy like the sensory jar and presenting it to a student just in time for a transition may distract him and help him adjust to the new location.  More than once I have seen how introducing a fascinating physical item provides a calming aid or healthy diversion for a child.  The Sensory Divinity is also brilliant and is a great activity to do inside the special needs environment (although I suspect many typical ministry environments would love this activity as well!). I love finding and sharing great practices like this! ~ Amy


Homemade Sensory Jars – Small

1 small plastic canister (e.g. from Target)

1 drop food coloring (avoid using the color red as this is a stimulating color)

1 teaspoon glitter

1 Tablespoon liquid glycerin*

Hot water- fill remainder with hot water all the way to top

Super Glue – seal the top with strong adhesive before locking the canister

* Glycerin may be hard to find.  For small jars, 1 dropper of the baby glycerin liquid suppositories can be used as was done for the jars shown above.

Homemade Sensory Jars – Large

1 Large plastic canister (e.g. from Target)

2 Drops food coloring (avoid using the color red as this is a stimulating color)

1 Tablespoon glitter

4 Tablespoons liquid glycerin*

Hot water- fill remainder with hot water all the way to top

Super Glue – seal top w/strong adhesive before locking canister

Blue, green, and yellow are calming colors and therefore ideal to use when creating sensory jars.

Sensory heaven! These are those floral/ decorative beads you see in fancy showrooms.  The polymer-based beads are non-toxic and provide a fantastic squishy sensation after they have been soaked in water.  Kids may enjoy the tactile experience of running their fingers through a cup of hydrated beads or placing their hands in a bin full of beads.  You can also get creative and hide water resistant objects inside the bin of soaked beads, encouraging kids to go on a sensory treasure hunt.  ”Hiding” objects that relate to the day’s Bible lesson is a great way to reinforce the day’s teaching….small plastic sea creatures for Jonah & the whale; toy soldiers for any Bible stories that involve Roman soldiers; plastic animals for Noah’s Ark, etc.

Homemade Sensory Divinity

Floral/Decorative clear beads (found at Dollar Tree for $1 per jar)

Water to soak the beads

A large bowl or bin that allows kids to reach in their hands

Optional:  water-resistant “treasures” to hide in the divinity


For more about Kelly Sapp, check out her recently launched blog, Profoundability.  To see many ideas like this one, follow Champions on Facebook.

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Amy Fenton Lee
Amy Fenton Lee is a writer and speaker focused on helping churches successfully include children with special needs. She is a regular contributor to children’s ministry publications and a variety of other Christian and secular magazines. Amy is a passionate children’s ministry volunteer and the daughter of a church senior pastor. Amy is a frequent speaker at children’s ministry conferences. Amy blogs about special needs inclusion at The Inclusive Church.