Multi-Sensory Boards: The Perfect DIY Gift for Developing Minds
What is a Multi-Sensory Board?
In the late 1970s, Dutch therapists began designing multi-sensory rooms to help those with intellectual disabilities further develop their senses and to give them a safe, stimulating environment to explore and relax. Today these rooms are used in many types of therapies for people of all ages. It has been found that multi-sensory environments are not only beneficial for people seeking therapy, but they can also be very stimulating for developing minds. These rooms have been shown to reinforce neural pathways and to help with concentration, socialization, communication, learning, and developing fine and gross motor skills. They provide a safe space for children to explore and learn on their own and with others, while promoting language and emotional development.
Since most families do not have a spare room in their homes to create a multi-sensory room, a multi-sensory board provides the same stimulations but on a much smaller scale. The key is to include various objects on the board that stimulate different senses. Creating your own board is easy and even better for your child because you can tailor the board to their interests, which you may not get in a community multi-sensory environment.
Making Your Multi-Sensory Board
What You Need:
A large board (thick cardboard, plywood, wood, particle board, or even a bare wall)
Use a hard, durable surface like wood or particle board as your base. Your board can be as big or small as you like. Feel free to paint the board a bright colour or leave it natural.
Attach different objects to the board to make a fun stimulating toy for your child to enjoy for years to come.
Use different textured objects, like hard metal door knockers and soft fuzzy fabric. Use objects that make different sounds, like a bell or a dog chew toy.
Use letters and numbers to help your child recognize them and work on saying their names and sounds.
Include safe objects from around your house and have fun making this sensory board!
TIP: There are many examples on Pinterest or do a Google search for inspiration.
Using Your Multi-Sensory Board for Language Development
In the early stages of language development, the multi-sensory board can be used to introduce new words. This can be done by playing with your child and commenting on what they are doing or looking at. Examples of words to model might include pull, open, slide, push, tap, move, ring, up, down, in, and out. Using action and location words while playing with the board is a great way to help your child develop their language skills. This stimulating board can be used when learning to say or mimic the sounds you child hears, such as scrunch, bang, or ding. As they get older, you can modify the board or activities to introduce colour, texture, number, and letter words or sounds.
The board can also help develop fine motor skills like tying knots or shoelaces, moving beads on a string, pushing buttons and picking up small objects. Letters and numbers can be included to encourage the development of spelling, phonics, reading, and math skills. It is also a different way to make words and numbers without sitting down with a pen and paper, which may not interest young children.
Good luck creating your own multi-sensory board. We’d love to see pictures of your creations!