Monday, November 02, 2015

Visual Sensory Toys & Tools for Kids

Visual sensory toys generally have a calming effect on kids with sensory issues and/or autism. Hence, the popularity of calm down bottles. 

Both of my boys benefit from a variety of visual sensory toys, many of which can be picked up from the dollar store. From playing with light to watching things fall to visually scanning for objects, these visual sensory toys and suggestions would make perfect stocking stuffers for Christmastime.

For my son, light play has been the most appealing. He would happily spend hours playing at our DIY light table with any of these light table activities. The soft glow of the light table was visually calming for him. So I have included lots of light play based visual sensory toys and tools on this list.

Which visual sensory toys would your kids find calming?

Visual sensory toys & tools for kids - great for kids with autism and/or sensory processing issues from And Next Comes L

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Visual Sensory Toys & Suggestions for Kids


1. Mazes, Word Searches, & I Spy Picture Search Books

Scanning for images and words is a great visual activity for kids. Try books of mazes, word searches, connect the dots, or I Spy type picture searches. I like to buy the jumbo word search books from Costco or the dollar store for my son with hyperlexia since he loves letters and words.


2. Flashlights

I have yet to meet a kid who didn't enjoy playing with flashlights. Whether they are plain flashlights or a flashlight projector, kids love them! My boys also enjoy wearing LED headlamps. Again, these all make great stocking stuffer ideas for visual sensory seekers.

Flashlight projector




3. Kaleidoscope

A classic toy like a kaleidoscope provides lots of sensory input for visual seeking kids. They will be mesmerized for hours by staring at the changing colors and patterns.


4. Finger Lights

Finger lights are a fun visual toy for kids to explore with, especially when paired with translucent objects. You can usually find these at the dollar store and they make great stocking stuffer ideas for kids.


5. Glow Sticks

We always keep a bag of glow sticks handy for when we need quick visual sensory input. Our favorite way to use them is to toss a bunch in the bathtub and turn off the lights for a glow bath! I like to grab bags of glow sticks from the dollar store to use as stocking stuffers at Christmastime.


6. Visual Timers

Visual timers are a great tool for kids who are visual learners, like my son. He really enjoys things like stop watches and hourglasses/sand timers, but here are some other ideas to try:

Visual time timer


Liquid timer


Bubble motion tumbler



7. Optical Illusions & Moving Picture Books

Older kids will enjoy optical illusion books while younged kids will enjoy moving picture books like these:

Gallop book


Waddle book


Swing book



8. Lava Lamp

We had a lava lamp once and my kids loved to watch it bubble and move, but then the lamp got knocked over and broke. Regardless, it was a perfect visual sensory tool for my boys and they found it quite calming. So I suggest using a lava lamp with older children or while carefully supervised. A small lava lamp like this one can be a great stocking stuffer idea for Christmas. Here's the lava lamp that we had:

Fish lava lamp



9. Visual Rainmakers


Kids will love watching watching the little balls roll and fall in visual rainmakers. Not only do they provide good visual sensory input, but they provide good auditory sensory input as well.

Visual rainmaker



10. Light Up Toys

Whenever my husband goes to a conference, he always comes home with some kind of light up toy like a light up ball or light saber or light up fan (the boys loved this one because it spelled words as it spun around). Other good light up toys to check out include light twirlersfiber optic lights, or flashing spiky balls.


Looking for more visual sensory toys and ideas for kids? Then check out our DIY light table kit, DIY light table, and light table gift guide.

Visual sensory toys & tools for kids - great for kids with autism and/or sensory processing issues from And Next Comes L
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