DIY Sensory Kit

DIY Sensory Kit

During my first term as an MSW student, one of my professors came to class with a blue lunchbox. He set the lunchbox in the middle of our class circle and told us we could use anything in it to help us focus, relax, and stay grounded. Upon opening the lunchbox, there wasn’t food–there were a variety of items in there! Mints, a variety of scented lotions, soft items, silly putty, pipe cleaners, and so on. This was my introduction to a sensory kit.

A sensory kit is a small bag or container filled with a variety of items that stimulate the senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). The items in the kit are tools to help a person practice mindfulness skills to stay in the present moment, stay grounded, relax, alleviate anxiety or stress, and decrease distraction.

We all concentrate, relax, learn, and find enjoyment in our own unique ways; this is why there are a variety of items included in the kit. The kit can be used during therapy to introduce new senses to the client and/or to assist with emotional regulation.

Making the Sensory Kit

Include items that stimulate the senses. Did I mention you can create your own sensory kit from items exclusively purchased at the Dollar Tree? Because that’s how I created my own kit. You can personalize your kit to your own style or a particular client’s needs.

Here are some ideas of items you can include in your own sensory kit for each of the senses:

  • Sight: Play-Dough (bright colors), glitter wand, sand timer, a picture
  • Touch: Stuffed animal, Play-Dough, slinky, hand puzzle, pipe cleaners, squishy ball, worry stone
  • Taste: Gum, mints (**Note: always check for food allergies.)
  • Smell: Vanilla-scented lotion, small lavender pouch (**Note: be aware if your client is sensitive to scents.)
  • Hear:  (This varies with the client and your course of treatment.) For example, if a client likes to listen to classical music when stressed, have that music on-hand, ready to utilize if needed.

I also include hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes…because germs are gross.

Tips for Using the Sensory Kit

  1. When introducing the sensory kit to clients…
    • Beginning of session or for the first time:
      • “We all learn and stay focused in different ways. Sometimes holding something in our hands to fidget with can help.”
      • “This bag has items you can use to help you focus.”
      • “This bag is here for you to use at any time during our session. It’s to help you focus or relax.”
      • “Sometimes we talk about difficult topics in here. This bag is here to help you relax.”
  2. A client utilizing the sensory kit can be an opportunity for you to…
    • Check in with the client’s present feelings
    • Introduce a coping skill and practice coping skills
    • Introduce ways to stay focused and practice keepng focus
    • Help the client discover new enjoyments and/or sensations
  3. Notice what’s happening when the client is using an item. This is an excellent clinical opportunity for you to observe the client’s behavior and self-soothing skills.
    • What was the topic of conversation right before the client chose an item?
    • Which item did the client choose?
    • If the client becomes distracted by an item, what was the conversation topic when they chose it? What did they say or not say?
    • Does the item seem to be helping the client maintain focus, relax, etc.? How do you know? Ask yourself…
      • What is the client’s affect?
      • Body language?
      • Tone of voice? Speech?
      • Facial expressions?
      • Thought process?


Here is a picture of my own sensory kit and the items in it:


Every item you see in the picture I purchased at the Dollar Tree!

Happy therapy!


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