The Fourth of July: family, grilling, picnics, swimming– and, of course, fireworks. Watching fireworks to finish off your Independence Day is great– unless your a child with sensory processing challenges. Our toddler TJ was recently diagnosed with ASD, and he gets overwhelmed with loud sounds and bright, flashing lights. You can bet fireworks won’t be part of our celebration this year!
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy other fun sensory activities! If you’ve got a child who’s in a similar place, here are some easy and fun ideas to celebrate Independence Day, without the fireworks.
Obviously, sparklers are still bright moving lights, so this idea won’t work for all children with sensory processing needs. However, if the loud noises and flashing of fireworks are what bothers your little ones, sparklers can be a great alternative! Your child can also have more control over the situation and anticipate when the light will start. This can be helpful with sensory processing as well.
Several stores sell glow sticks, glow necklaces and bracelets, and glow wands. Around the Fourth, you can usually find patriotic colors and sets!
Buttons are one of our go-to sensory play supplies. TJ loves pouring them, counting them, sorting them– you name it. Pick out red, white, and blue buttons to keep it on-theme, then let your kiddo have at them! You can also glue them onto paper to make a flag, fireworks, or just a fun design. Your kiddo can also play with poker chips, beads, or other small colored objects.
I love sensory bottles in general, but I especially love themed sensory bottles that have multiple uses! You can easily throw together red, white/silver, and blue sensory bottles for your child to enjoy. Just add water to an empty bottle and your choice of sequins, confetti, glitter, food dye, small beads, dish soap, or anything else you can think of!
Here’s a cool idea: glow-in-the-dark patriotic sensory bottles! Check out the tutorial on the Edventures blog— as well as free printables for 4th of July activities.
Our toddler loves watching pinwheels all the time, but having a special one for Independence Day has been fun. You can pick up a flag-designed one for 97 cents at Walmart, or follow this tutorial to make your own!
TJ is always down for some painting. Just grab white paper and paint in red and blue, and you’re all set! You can either paint with one color, let it dry, and then paint with the other, or let your child mix them up. Either way, you’ll end up with a fun activity! If you’d like to turn it into an abstract art project, check out this painting TJ and I made last fall.
Two Ziploc bags. Dry rice. Red and blue food dye. Shake. Done.
Younger kiddos can explore simply pouring and scooping, while older ones can pour the rice to create an American flag or other Independence Day designs! Here’s a tip: use a cookie sheet or a drop cloth to keep the rice contained while your Picasso is at work.