How to Make a Sensory Tunnel

April 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

There is an endless number of items, toys, games, and therapy equipment I would love to have, but like most people, space, money, and time are always a barrier.  I use to use a sensory tunnel during treatments when I worked in the clinic setting and it was a favorite of many of the kiddos I worked with.  I was inspired last week by one family I work with to copy their stretchy sensory tunnel and make my own.

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A sensory tunnel can be used as a “heavy work” activity to help our proprioceptive input.  Proprioception is knowing where our body is in space.  Our muscles, joints, tendons, and connective tissue sends signals to our brain telling us where our body is in relation to other objects or people.  Since the sensory tunnel lays tight around the kiddo’s body as they crawl through, it provides a lot of proprioceptive input, as well as tactile input.

A sensory tunnel is made of stretchy material like Spandex or Lycra.  I found some Spandex material at our local JoAnn Fabric.  I have heard of others finding stretchy material on the clearance rack for as low as $1.oo per yard!  {I was not so lucky, but was able to use a 40% off coupon}.  I was told by a lady at a fabric store that polyester thread would be the most durable thread to use.  I also found some elastic thread, but we did not end up using it.   I do not have a sewing machine, so I went to my amazing mother’s house and she helped me make the tunnel. Here are the steps to making your own sensory tunnel:

  1. Buy 3-4 yards of stretchy material (such as Spandex)
  2. Fold your fabric in half long ways with the material inside out
  3. You may pin the fabric together, but we found that we were able to pin just the first 6 inches or so and then held it together with our hands and the foot on the sewing machine
  4. Determine how big you want the opening of your tunnel and sew length-wise down the entire length of fabric (I recommend approximately 20-30 inches in diameter – mine pictured is approx.. 25 inches)
  5. Trim any excess fabric
  6. Turn right side out
  7. Ta-Da! Tunnel complete!

DIY Sensory Tunnel  DIY Sensory Tunnel

We did not hem the ends of the fabric since we used Spandex which so far, doesn’t seem to fray.  Other material may need a hem.

To use your tunnel, hold one end of the tunnel open to help your child crawl through to the other end.  If your child is a little nervous to go inside, you may have a second person hold the other end so that they can see all the way through.  You could hide toys or stuffed animals inside for them to find or have them push a therapy ball through the tunnel for even more resistance.  Frequently, I have kids crawl through to retrieve puzzle pieces and put a puzzle together on the other side.

What other activities could you use for your tunnel?  Have you seen any good deals on fabric?  Let me know how your tunnel making experience goes!  

 

The purpose of this blog is to provide resources for parents who want to carry over therapy activities with their child at home.  The information provided here does not replace therapy or medical care provided by a qualified therapist or medical professional.    These activities are safe for most children.  However, some activities or materials may be inadvisable for children who have certain allergies or medical conditions.  It is recommended that you consult your child’s medical provider or therapist before engaging in the activities you have selected.  

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