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  • Julie Bigham

Creating Sensory Boxes

Blog #6 – Sensory Activity Boxes


“Participating in activities is truly a sensory experience for all of us. When I crochet, I see the colors and patterns that I construct and feel the texture of the yarn. I love the way my grandson’s baby blanket felt as I completed it, and knowing that someday I’d get to hold him in it. When I go to a little league baseball game, I love to hear the ping of that bat as it finds the ball and the taste of a good old ballpark hot dog. I developed film as a young adult and as strange as it sounds, I still like the smell of developer.

The sensory experiences we have as we participate in the activities we love, will stick with us and bring back wonderful memories when we are older, whether or not we are still able to participate in those activities actively.”

(From my book – “Creating Joy Filled Visits in the Midst of Alzheimer’s – A Step by Step Guide to Engaging Fun for Family Caregivers” – Available on Amazon and at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC)


As a loved one progresses through the stages of Alzheimer’s, their activity level will decline. That doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the activities they did before Alzheimer’s, it means we need to intentionally and creatively find ways to adapt what they love, to fit them through each stage. In the book mentioned above, I have a whole section set aside to help you adapt activities to fit your loved one right where they are, and help you both find joy in the moments you spend together.


Eventually, your loved one will need activities that are more sensory centered, things that can be touched, smelled, tasted, heard, and seen. If your loved one enjoyed baking, it isn’t too hard to figure out how to turn a baking activity into a sensory one; smelling cookies as they bake, enjoying a taste if diet allows, going over recipe cards and cookbooks. But what if mom enjoyed playing bridge? What if your husband’s favorite activity was walking along the beach?


Consider creating fun filled Activity Boxes like these for your next visit, to help find Joy in each moment!


Let’s break it down: A Game of Bridge

See & Touch – Let mom hold the cards, feel the waxy texture, spread them out in her hands, perhaps try a simpler game like High/Low.

Hear – Shuffle the cards as you chat about past games played together.

Smell – Most decks have a very similar and identifiable smell that can bring back great memories of games played with friends and family.

Taste – Enjoy some of the same snacks mom use to put out during game night (diet allowed of course)

(Items for the sensory box: Familiar decks of cards, pencil, paper, diet allowed snack items)


Let’s break it down: A Trip to the Beach without Leaving Home

Touch – Create a box of items to be held such as shells and a baggie filled with sand.

Hear – Purchase a sounds machine and play relaxing ocean wave sounds, or perhaps find some fun beach music on Pandora or YouTube to play and sway to!

Smell – There are great ocean scented soaps, lotions, and candles out there to try.

See – Keep pictures of trips to the beach handy to chat about during visits.

(Items for the sensory box: Baggies with shells and sand, perhaps a beach bucket and shovel if he loved playing with the grandchildren, music and ocean sounds, ocean scented lotion or candle, pictures from a favorite trip)


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