Homework stress and the sensory box

A mom whose blog I follow mentioned recently that she created a sensory box for a child in Girl Guides. But it turns out her own child ended up enjoying this box so much she kept it for her. When I read this, I immediately had one thought:

Make a sensory box for my own girl-child.

I thought it might address the anxiety issue in our own household. Imagine this scenario:

My little 5th grader has so much homework every day, it breaks my heart when I have to pull her away from a toy or craft to get the schoolwork done by prior to her sports activities. Like last night, she was playing with a new Lego set and all I could see was how the time was ticking. She had homework to complete, a test to study for, an index card with French motivational sentences to create, dinner to eat, her ringette bag to pack, her long johns to put on and I had to find a way to get her to the rink prior to 7 with enough time to dress her into her equipment.

(Luckily not all nights are hectic like that…)

She cried. She felt overwhelmed, frustrated and then got even more upset when her older brother announced he didn’t have any homework at all.

Promises that tomorrow night is activity free didn’t do much to calm her, and neither did the offer to skip the practice and stay home. She really wanted to go skate. And play Lego.

But not do homework.

That’s when I realized a sensory box by might help calm her feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. She could stick her hands into the box and feel all the different items run through her fingers. It might help her calm down and regroup, distract her momentarily before tackling her math sheets.
So what is a sensory box?

How I understand it, you simply take a container, the size of a shoe box for example, and fill it with different small items like beans, glass pearls, beads or even smooth to pebbles. Marbles, maybe too. Some people might hide a trinket, a small toy, or a feather in it.

I created such a box yesterday, and tried it out for her when she started complaining about school work. She stopped talking, felt around the materials, and I could see she turned her mind off for a moment. Seems it did the trick.

After she played with it for a while, we made piles of her school work, dividing the assignments into smaller, manageable projects, and she finished in time to still make the practice. I kept the sensory box beside her while she worked so she could occasionally put her hands in it, play around with it.

Incidentally, she does this with silly putty, too. Picks it up to kneed it around in her hand while contemplating whatever homework she is battling with…I should have thought of this before! 🙂

Later, while I was freezing to death in the cold rink, I watched her skate with her friends, smiling and giggling. Her coaches organized a pick-up game of girls vs coaches, and everyone got a great workout racing around the rink. They all came off the ice sweaty and happy.

It was a positive ending to a stressful afternoon, and the sensory box is a keeper. Perhaps next time we walk a dog down to the pebble beach, we’ll select a few more interestingly shaped stones to add to our box.

4 thoughts on “Homework stress and the sensory box

  1. Sweet! Your box has such cool stuff in it! I actually did steal the bean box I made back for guides, and I didn’t even think about making a second one for my own daughter. Totally going to do it now. She’s also in Grade 5 and it’s amazing to me how much homework she is getting, and how stressed out she is about it. Sensory box! Of course! DUH.


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