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Developing Sensorial Skills

Allyson Locke M.S., OTR/L

Porch, the home services platform, recently reached out to Therapro for help with their latest article, Expert Advice to Design the Ultimate Kids Playroom at Home. The question needing an answer was, what toys and products can help kids develop sensorial skills? Therapro’s team of experts had a lot to say on this topic! Read on to see what Therapro shared and be sure to check out the full article!

Sensorial skills encompass the five well known sensory systems tactile/touch, gustatory/taste, olfactory/smell, auditory/hearing, and visual/ sight as well as the lesser known vestibular and proprioceptive systems.  With so many different systems the answer to this question is quite extensive.

Fidgets and chews are typically well known and well associated with sensory and sensorial development. Chews, as their name implies, are a category of items that are designed to be chewed. Chewing provides great proprioceptive input through the jaw area; this type of input can be very helpful for soothing but also great in the development of this system.  Some chews have added textures (like bumps or ridges) that add a tactile component.  Therapro offers a free handy guide, Choose Your Chew, to help make it easier to find the perfect chew.  Fidgets are generally small objects that are held or manipulated. There are many fidget options available; depending on the fidget’s characteristics, they can help alert (wake up) or calm the sensory system.  Therapro offers a free handy guide, Find Your Fidget, to make it easier to find the perfect fidget.

Games and activities that involve movement and body position sense are great for targeting the vestibular, tactile, and proprioceptive systems. Some examples of games include; Trunks, Spark Action Floor Game, and the Body Awareness Fun Deck.  Movement based activities include playing with a parachute, riding a scooter board, completing sensory paths, doing yoga, and making obstacle courses with things like balance beams or stepping stones.  Adding music enhances the movement experience by adding an auditory component.  The resource Sensational Fun: Recreational Activities For Sensory Diets And Fun, includes over 100 activities for parents and teachers who are looking for some great sensory games using common objects found in the home and school (free sample activities are available!).

Games and activities that involve touching and feeling are great for targeting the tactile sense. Games and activities that have a specific tactile focus include; Tactile Search & Match, Feel ‘n Find, Sensory Collage Kit, Ruff’s House Teaching Tactile Set, and Gel Activity Pads. Playing with clay/ playdough is another great option and scented dough has the added benefit of bringing in the olfactory sense. 

Multisensory environments are another option for immersing in the sensorial experience. Unlike traditional multisensory environments, the Luminea line of products offers an interactive component through its app or optional switches.  With this, Luminea allows for true interaction between the user and components which is essential for sensorial development.

Play is a necessary component in the development of sensory skills. There are a vast variety of toys and products available to enhance the development of play. In choosing the most appropriate toy or activity considering a child’s interest, developmental level, and skill areas you wish to target are key! 


Trunks! Adapted For Use Across All Ages & Abilities!

Sarah Glovasky, M.S., OTR/L

Trunks® is an engaging, interactive game developed by Diane Long, EdD, MOTR/L  and published by Therapro. Trunks® has gameplay challenges for all abilities!

How Do You Play?

In this game players move their bodies, make sounds and perform actions from memory! Gameplay involves picking an Action Memory Card and performing the action depicted. Six categories of actions are involved:

  • Musical You: Encourages creativity with motor actions that produce sounds.
  • Animal Sounds: Players mimic animal sounds.
  • Animal Motions: Players move their bodies and demonstrate how animals move.
  • Sound Like: Players recall and reproduce commonly heard sounds.
  • Pretend To: Encourages imagination as players pretend to be like someone else.
  • Show How: Involves a step-by-step demonstration of an action requiring the player to create an original sequence.

Trunks involves remembering and performing motor sequences. Players draw a card, look at the given action from the six categories previously mentioned, turn the card over and perform the action from memory. There are visual pictures as well as words on each card. On their next turn they would draw an additional card and perform both actions in their memory sequence, without looking at the cards. When an action is performed correctly, the player gets to keep their card and continue to work toward building a “trunk” (a series of 4 cards that, when combined, create an elephant’s trunk). 

The ability to perform individual actions may differ from child to child. Furthermore, the ability to memorize subsequent actions or sequences may vary as well. For this reason the game was created with many variations that afford enjoyable game play for all ability levels.

What Skill Area Does Trunks! Target?

Working Memory! Working Memory is a necessity for engaging in a variety of everyday occupations including learning, socializing and task completion. Sequencing naturally falls under the broader category of working memory.  Inherent to the game is the pairing of multi-modal forms of input (visual cues, reading cues, motor engagement, etc.). Read on to learn how to adapt and modify this game to target other skill areas! 

How Can Trunks Be Adapted?

Preschool. This game can be used to target motor planning development for kids in preschool. Choose a card from the deck and ask the kids to complete the action. Things like pretend to lift weights, leap like a frog, and pretend to lick a drippy ice cream cone are good activities to choose. You can also use the Sounds Like cards for the kids to use their voices to participate. This is also a great option when working on oral motor and language skill. What does a train sound like?, snort like a pig, and hoot like an owl are sounds that preschool kids should be able to perform. Having their peers guess the sounds and or actions turns it into a whole group game everyone can participate in. Pro Tip: Pre-picking cards targeting the specific skill or development level of the group is always a good idea! 

Early Elementary Age. Working memory develops as kids age. Building a trunk of 2-3 trunk cards can make the game achievable for the younger crowd. The pictures on the trunk cards are helpful for the non-readers at this age (which many of them are)! Again preselecting cards can be key. If you are working with students who are nonverbal, take the sound cards out. If you are working with children who have limits in mobility, take the jumping and balance cards out. Pro Tip: For students struggling with motor planning, pre-teach and practice the actions on the cards prior to the whole group activity to help bolster confidence!

Later Elementary and Beyond. Target teamwork, this can be a difficult skill for some! Have the kids build the entire trunk, working in teams or as a whole group. Pro Tip: If you need an additional challenge, have the players remember the sequence both forwards and then backwards!

Other Helpful Tips

  • Use as many trunk pieces or make as many trunks as you have time for! For a 10 min group use 2-3 pieces or just complete one trunk. If you have a longer amount of  time, make multiple trunks!
  • Use the extra action cards or don’t! You know the players best. Is the extra challenge needed or will it be too much?
  • Playing the game Trunks is a great opportunity for co-treatments! Physical therapists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, and teachers all have skills that can be worked on during this game!

Trunks is a great option for targeting many key skill areas. It’s versatility makes it a great choice for a wide range of ages and ability levels. Check out Therapro’s handy guide, Gear Up for Games, for more great game adaptations and modifications. 

A Look Back at 2021

2021, What a year! Through it all Therapro remained committed to its mission of being The Therapy Resource for Families and Professionals.   Take a stroll down memory lane with us as we look back at some of our 2021 highlights and all of the ways we worked toward our commitment to this mission!


The very first blog post hit Therapro’s website way back in 2012; in 2021 they continued to go strong! This year we covered a wide range of topics including evaluations, movement based interventions, assistive technology, and adapting games for therapeutic uses.  We had guest bloggers, Gail Kushnir, MA OT, B.Ed and Laurie Gombash PT, M.Ed, contribute posts and this year we also tried something new, collaborative blog posts! Check out the archives for posts you may have missed!

New ProductsNew Products

Therapro’s team of occupational therapists and speech language pathologists spent much time during 2021 researching and trying out new products to bring to Therapro’s shelves! This year we had the chance to collaborate with new partners to bring you products like LegilLiners and Evac Chairs.  New and updated evaluation tools like the Feifer Assessment of Writing (FAW), SOSI M, and The Transition Planning Inventory – Third Edition (TPI-3) all made their way to Therapro’s website.  We greatly expanded the selection of wind ups and Fun Decks. The Sensory department saw updates with the addition of Sensory Paths, Fidget Boxes, The Sit to Stand Mobile Desk and Adjustable Wobble Chairs!  Therapro’s Assistive Technology department also saw some growth with additions like the Jelly Beamer, All-Turn-It Spinner, Switch Adapted Pluto, Switch Adapted Camera, and 9volt battery interrupter. Keep an eye on our New Products category for all of the new editions we have in store for 2022!


Therapro continued with the virtual conference trend through 2021 but we were also excited to get out on the road again with two in person conferences. At the virtual 2021 Integrative Therapy Symposium, AOTA Inspire conference, and at the CAOT virtual conference we had the opportunity to meet attendees, show off our latest products, and give away some great prizes.  In August we stepped out to our first in person conference at the Ohio School Based Practitioners Summit and the response was tremendous.  ASHA 2021 was Therapro’s first large-scale conference of the year, and while it was scaled down from previous years, it was great to have the opportunity to engage with so many professionals in a face to face format again! We are looking forward to these continued opportunities in 2022!

Handy GuidesHandy Guides

Therapro’s very first Handy Guide made its debut in 2020; these guides have received such a positive response that we continued adding new Handy Guides in 2021.  With Therapro’s focus on assistive technology, over the last year, it made sense to add an Assistive Technology Handy Guide to the collection!.  We also added a quick reference guide for the Eazy Holds, to help users determine the size that was just right for them! Be sure to check the Handy Guides section of our website for new additions in 2022.


Therapro’s free webinars continued to go strong in 2021 with additional webinars and new speakers introduced into the already strong lineup. In 2021 Therapro hosted webinars on a wide range of topics including writing readiness, therapeutic activity ideas, visual skills, transition planning, evidenced based practice, and many sensory topics.  Our library of recorded webinars grew allowing families and professionals easy access to these resources.  Our 2022 lineup is already shaping up to be another great year full of new presenters!

Other highlights of 2021 included our very first video, new additions to the Therapro staff, and two new catalogs! Therapro is looking forward to welcoming in the New Year and continuing the commitment to our mission of being The Therapy Resource for Families and Professionals.

Happy New Year!