Citizenship on the Geaux

Did you know the Statewide 4-H Service-Learning Topic is Special Needs Awareness? The month of April is National Autism Awareness Month. It is common that those with Autism face some sort of sensory issue. In fact, sensory sensitivities are a symptom used to help diagnose Autism.

Those faced with Autism’s sensory issues often face hyper-sensitivities (over-responsiveness) or hypo-sensitivities (under-responsiveness) to variety of things.

These can involve:

  • Sights
  • Sounds
  • Smells
  • Tastes
  • Touch

For a better understanding of the “sensory overload” those with Autism encounter, watch the video in the link provided.

Having sensory-stimulating toys, such as the ones you will make today, have a tremendous influence on those with certain conditions, not just limited to Autism. Sensory toys help to build up nerve connections to the brain and encourage motor skills which is one of the many reasons they are so important!

Today you will have the opportunity to make three easy at home sensory toys including: stress balls, meditation bottles, and a sensory zen garden. Below are the demonstrations along with the instructions to follow along!

How to Make A Stress Ball

Remember that this will be a messy activity, so you may want to place several towels out or complete over the sink for easy cleanup.


  • 1 tablespoon of lotion (scent doesn’t matter)
  • 5 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 party balloon (please stay away from water or styling balloons as they pop easily)
  • 1 empty water bottle (for use of funnel)


  1. Take an empty water bottle and draw a dotted line near the top of the label on the bottle.
  2. Take your balloon and situate it on the mouth of the funnel (the place where you would drink from if it was the water bottle)
  3. Take your lotion and either pump it or spoon it into the balloon through the funnel top.You’ll want to start out with about a half a spoonful of lotion/three pumps from the lotion bottle.
  4. Push the lotion in the balloon towards the bottom of the balloon.
  5. Then, place all five tablespoons of cornstarch into the balloon and, once again, push it down towards the bottom of the balloon after placing each tablespoon in the balloon
  6. Massage the lotion and cornstarch inside the balloon with your hands
  7. Place the remainder of the lotion inside the balloon and massage again
  8. Take your balloon off the funnel and tie it together
  9. Congratulations!You have made your very own DIY Stress Ball

Sensory Zen Garden

This activity helps with calming down someone with sensory issues as they can play with the "sand" and organize the rocks until they are no longer feeling sensory overload.


  • ¼ cup of flour or corn starch
  • Plastic lunch container
  • 5 Rocks
  • Plastic Fork


  1. Pour 1/4 cup flour into the plastic lunch container.
  2. Add rocks
  3. Use a fork as a rake.

Meditation Bottles


  • A Water Bottle
  • Hot Water
  • 1.8 FL OZ Glitter Glue
  • Glitter
  • Clear Glue


  1. Remove all labels from the water bottle, and wash off any glue residue from the label.
  2. Fill your bottle almost to the top with hot water (hotter water will melt glue faster) leaving enough space only for the glitter glue. If you are using the meditation bottle as a timer, this would also be the time to determine how long you want your glitter timer to last (more water = shorter timer, less water = longer timer).
  3. Add all of your glitter glue and loose glitter into the water, close the bottle, and shake to mix all the ingredients together.
  4. Fill the remainder of the bottle with clear glue, leaving about half an inch of space.
  5. Make sure the top of the bottle is secure once again, then shake to combine all ingredients. The glitter will fill the bottle at first, but it will settle to the bottom in 10-15 minutes (depending on how much glue was added to the mixture).

For step by step directions see the handout attached. For more information on Autism you can visit Autism Speaks.

To keep up with the State Service-Learning Focus follow us on social media and use the hashtags #CitizenshipOnTheGeaux #BeTheChange!

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4/13/2020 1:56:17 PM
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