- Water bottle (the small 8 oz ones are the perfect size)
- Funnel (optional)
- About 1/2 cup filler material (see below)
Step 1: Choose sensory substance and fill the bottle
Provide lots of options for sensory substances to select from (corn starch, flour, salt, rice, quinoa, gel, etc.) My favorite are the soft fillers. Then fill the small bottle half way (a funnel is sometimes helpful).
Step 2: Blow Up Balloon
Blow up the balloon while practicing slow, deep breaths. For children that are working on controlling anger, this is also a good time to teach the “anger-balloon analogy.” One person pinches along the base of the neck (as to not let out the air too soon), while the other secures the balloon to the top of the water bottle.
Step 3: Fill The Balloon
Flip the bottle upside-down to fill the balloon. Then pinch the balloon’s neck and remove it from the rim of the bottle. Alternatively, you could put the funnel directly into the balloon (this is a little difficult)
Step 4: Let the Air Out
Pinch the neck and let the air out very slowly. If you do it too fast then the filling may fly out (especially if you are using a soft material like cornstarch or flour). Squeeze out all of the remaining air. If there is still air inside when the balloon is tied, the second balloon will not go on correctly. If the ball is not your desired size, you can blow a little more air into the balloon and put it back on the bottle to dump more filler in or out.
Step 5: Secure The Balloon
Run your fingers down the neck of the balloon to push down any filling. Then tie off the end of the balloon. At this point you can be finished if you don’t mind your stress ball looking clearly like a balloon, or use a second balloon to create a rounder/sleeker look and make a rupture less likely.
Cut off the balloon’s tail, just above the knot. Cut the neck off balloon 2 (red in the photo below) and stretch out the opening. Put balloon 1 inside (knot-side first), and wrap balloon 2 around balloon 1.
Another method is to cut both ends off of a balloon, which you use to cover the tied-off end of the balloon and create a stripe down the middle. This will hide the knot and give the ball a round shape. Depending on the size of the ball, the stripe may have a tendency to slip off. I like to double bag the ball no matter what and then add a stripe on top of that if desired.
Round out the ball with your hands and you are finished.
Stress balls are great because they can be used in a number of ways to meet the specific needs of a client (developing body awareness, as a sensory activity, mindfulness task, anger management, teaching progressive muscle relaxation, etc.).
This tutorial was features in the "Mindful Monsters Therapeutic Workbook," which features over 100 pages of interventions, crafts, coloring pages and worksheets.
Visit BumbleBLS.com/shop to get a copy.