SPARKLERS / Managing emotions

Smiley Stress Balls

A crafty activity that will give tamariki a calming keepsake.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki create a sensory ball and understand times they might use it.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Sensory play sends signals to student’s brains that help strengthen the neural pathways important for all types of learning.

Sensory balls and other hand-held tactile activities help generate serotonin, which aids de-stressing and feeling good. They are a great resource for tamariki who respond to tactile activities.

You will need

Parent helpers! This will be tricky for younger tamariki.

You'll also need:

  • A sink space, or outdoor area
  • 3 balloons for one ball (to seal in the rice and ensure strength)
  • Rice (easier to tidy up than flour, if someone bites into one!)
  • Funnels (or card held in a funnel shape with sellotape)
  • An empty drink bottle or two
  • Scissors
  • PVA glue
  • Permanent markers (to draw faces!)

Hei mahi - What to do

Students younger than year 5 and 6 will need lots of help with this activity. We’d suggest having some parent helpers on hand.

Start by watching the video right through, together. You may like to replay and pause this as you go, to ensure everyone is managing and keeping up.

You could also print these written instructions.

  1. Using your funnel, gradually pour ½ to ¾ cup of rice into your drink bottle.
  2. Blow air into balloon 1 until it’s half full, then twist the top but don’t tie it.
  3. Put the mouth of the balloon over the top of your bottle.
  4. Hold it in place, let it untwist, then tip and shake the rice into the balloon.
  5. Remove the balloon, let out the air then sit it on a flat surface.
  6. Cut off the long ‘neck’ then add PVA to the hole where the rice is (for added strength!).
  7. Trim the neck off balloon 2 and stretch/snuggle it over balloon 1.
  8. Push balloon 1 down a little, then add PVA to the hole in balloon 2.
  9. Cut the neck off balloon 3, then stretch and snuggle it over balloon 2.
  10. Massage the ball to make it nice and round, then add a face!
  11. We’d suggest tamariki write their initials on the back.

Let tamariki experience their stress balls. Teach them to feel the texture and watch the shapes they become.

Some tamariki might like squeezing or pinching them. Others might like rolling them between their hands. Let them try different movements to discover what feels best.

Then talk about where they might keep and use them. They could keep them in their Sensory kete, desk, or another designated spot.

Say that you will keep yours in your calm space so it’s there if they need it.

What next?

Try making a Sensory kete or Glitter timers.

Check out this awesome Sparklers at home resource: How to help kids keep calm

Looking after you

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