Target Dollar Spot Finds for you Classroom Calming and Sensory Kit

Top: Target  |  Jeans: Nordstrom  |  Clutch: Target, but not a clutch… target sensory kit container packed with a perfect mixture of calming and sensory tools… all found at the famous dollar spot.

Fact: 95% of teachers are obsessed with Target’s dollar spot.

As a part of the 95%, I am constantly looking for ways to integrate my dollar sport finds into my classroom. This is the second year in a row that I am disgustingly obsessed with Target’s Valentine’s Day Selection.

My husband was trying to make it back to our house to watch a bowl game and I challenged him to 5 minutes in the dollar spot, only, and we would make it back in time. I was a minute or two past 5. I may not have won the challenge with my husband, but I won the jackpot with all the items I stuffed into my basket in those 5 minutes.

Social-emotional and sensory kits are a huge part of our school-wide culture at my school. We have a lot of students who have or are experiencing trauma and a high number of students with IEPs or 504 plans. There’s a lot of research to suggest that fiddling with different materials helps calm children and meets their sensory needs. I have a student who has experienced a lot of trauma and when he’s in the middle of a meltdown, if I give him a tiny stuffed animal or soft sock, he will start to refocus his energy and calm himself.

At the beginning of this year, our district provided each classroom with materials for a social-emotional corner in their classrooms. I am one of three special education teachers at my school and calming & sensory kit gets A LOT of use. I’ve been on the lookout for materials to make my own and I found everything I could possibly need at Target. For just $9 dollars you can make the ultimate classroom calming and sensory kit (or go big for $14).

the finds

-play sand (pack of 4) –> $1
-erasers (pack of 3) –> $1
-heart notepads (pack of 6) $3
-glow slime (pack of 4) –> $1
-stretchy llamas (pack of 6)  –> $1
-fuzzy socks –> $1
-envelope  –> $1
optional: letter board with letters  –> $5

the purpose

play sand + slime + stretchy llamas: kids who have sensory needs typically receive a lot of stimulation from different tactile textures. Children who have experienced trauma often seek control and distraction– playing with slime, sand, and stretchies can really strengthen their emotional regulation.

erasers + notepads: an odd calming technique that works wonders for three of my boys with eligibility under emotional-behavioral disorders is erasing pencil marks (or even nothing). I’m not sure if it’s the tactile pressure when erasing or watching the eraser shavings fall to the paper, but its soothing for them. It might be worth trying if you have a student who regularly has difficulty with regulating his emotions. These tools can also be used for drawing or journaling 🙂

fuzzy socks: soft and cozy items often serve as soothing and calming tools for students when they are really upset. The idea of a sock might sound silly, but you would be surprised at how many kids just want something soft to hold when they’re feeling a lot of emotions. When I was a middle school teacher, I had a fuzzy teddy bear that I brought for a writing assignment. Kids would fight over it. 8th grade boys wanted to hold it and one even tried to steal it. I have a couple pairs of fuzzy gloves and socks in my classroom and will often give one sock or glove for students to put on their hand or stretch under their desk.

envelope:  if this giant felt envelope isn’t the cutest container for any type of kit, I don’t know what is. The envelope fits everything! It’s the perfect tactile container to hold all your sensory and SEL tools!

optional letter board with letters: I haven’t tried this idea yet, but the concept of a letter board meets multiple research based sensory tools and calming tools. I plan on having a mini-envelope with at least twenty positive words. If they chose to use the letter board, the goal will be finding the letters and creating the word on the board. I want to include words from my desk encouragements like: purpose, dream, safe, love, valued, and care for. When using this tool, students will have to refocus their thinking on 1) choosing a word, 2) finding the letters, and 3) putting the letters on the board. They will be distracting themselves from whatever is causing their emotional dis-regulation and hopefully getting to a place where they can try their best to communicate their needs. I’m beyond excited to try this tool idea!

With any new tool, students have to be taught how to use it, with clear and explicit expectations 🙂 Before you share with your class your awesome new classroom calming & sensory kit– make sure to teach what you expect! With clear usage and expectations, my tools rarely get used as toys or become distractions.

Side note: how cool is it that Target now has some of their dollar spot finds for sale on their website? You have to buy it in a set or “bulk” but most things are under $10! I’m going to have to check this periodically!


Ashley Boston

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