I have been busy making activity bags (also known as busy bags ironically!) for Dancing Queen and one of the things I decided to make for her was a sensory ball. I had read about how easy they were to make and set out to make a few.
First I made some playdough. I didn’t bother to add scent or food colouring because once it was inside the “ball”, it wouldn’t be seen or smelled.
The next step seemed easy enough…stuff some of the playdough into a balloon…much easier said than done!!! I tried holding the balloon open with my fingers and shoving it in with the other hand. I tried holding it open with the fingers from two hands while having one of my girls shove playdough in and that resulted in little cuts on my fingers from her nails. At this point, I still did not have one full ball! I then came up with the idea to insert a coupler (cake decorating tool) into the top of the balloon and make skinny snakes with the playdough and get them in that way. It was still tedious but it was much easier than the other methods I had tried.
After making about five of these playdough filled balloons, I began to think that there must be an easier way to make these sensory balls. I did a google search and read about filling them with flour. I made a funnel out of paper and quickly filled five balloons with flour. The flour filled sensory balls felt very similar to the playdough filled ones. They had somewhat of a soften feel and did not hold their shape when pressed in the way the playdough filled ones but when surveyed, every one of my kids preferred the flour filled balls. I also filled a few with dry rice (also using the paper funnel) for a different sensory experience. None of the kids like the rice filled ones.
The next time I make these, I will fill all of them with flour instead of messing with the playdough or bothering with rice. The kids really like squeezing the sensory balls and they were a fraction of the cost that store bought “stress balls” are.
*note: use the helium quality balloons for best results
Update: We’ve made these using just flour another half a dozen times or so over the past few years. They sometimes last for many months at a time. You can use permanent marker to draw a face on them or write the name of the child it belongs to. Remind kids not to bite them as they will break if bitten hard enough. This can present a challenge for kids with sensory issues.