Have you every used stress balls with your group? I have mentioned them many times in the past. The use of stress balls can be extremely beneficial for young children. Whether they are part of a sensory bin or readily available in your calm corner, stress balls are always a good idea!
Stress balls can help children calm down. Simply manipulating a stress ball and applying pressure on it with one or two hands while paying attention to their breathing can calm little minds and overexcited little bodies. On a sensory level, manipulating a stress ball provides pressure and fulfills children's need to touch. This can have a calming effect on children who need stimulation.
When should stress balls be used?
In my opinion, stress balls can be used at any time during the day, whenever you feel children need help to calm down. For example, they may be used:
- Before naptime;
- During the manipulation of the contents of your calm bin;
- In your calm corner or reading corner;
- When a child is angry to help him manage his emotions;
- When you feel a child is nervous or stressed because of a specific situation;
- Before lunch time to help decrease children's energy level.
I suggest making your own stress balls. They are very simple to create and you most likely already have everything you need. You could even make them with your group as part of an activity. For each stress ball, you will need:
- A pair of socks
- A balloon
- A funnel
Here are the steps:
- Insert the funnel in the uninflated balloon and pour flour in the funnel until the balloon is full.
- Tie a knot and cut off any excess rubber.
- Insert the balloon in a sock and tie a knot. Slide the second sock over the first one, in the other direction. Tie a knot.
That's it! Three simple steps and you have your own homemade stress balls!
Now, how would you like a simple activity involving stress balls?
Sit in a circle with your group. Give each child a stress ball. Encourage them to close their eyes. Invite them to breathe in as they squeeze their stress ball and release their stress ball as they breathe out. Repeat this exercise several times until children are overwhelmed with a sense of calm.
Enjoy this relaxing activity!
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator