Activities for the Vestibular Sense

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Activities for the Vestibular Sense
When a child has vestibular dysfunction, sensory integration therapy is suggested. Parents and teachers can provide SAFE activities, too, bearing in mind that the vestibular sense is our most primal and powerful sense and therefore the one we must address with the highest caution. We must NEVER impose vestibular experiences under any circumstances.

  • Most vestibular input is during the start/stop phase of the movement.

  • Fast start/stops are alerting.

  • Slow rocking is soothing and calming.

The wise approach may be to start slowly, take frequent breaks to check in with the child’s response, ask if he wants more or feels all done with the activity, add some proprioception, and then, if the child is ready, go back for more.

Balancing Activities
Materials Needed:

  • T-stool

  • Therapy ball or “peanut” ball

What a child can do:

  • Listen to a story

  • Play rhythmic games and musical games

  • Sit at a play table to eat snacks and enjoy tabletop activities

  • Toss a beanbag back and forth

  • Enjoy game of “reach for the toys”


  • Sitting on a T-stool improves a child’s sense of balance. Balancing may be hard at first; however when the child discovers the tripod formula for positioning his body, balancing becomes a triumph.

  • T-stool sitting improves body awareness and postural stability.

  • Figuring out how to prop up a T-stool and to orient his body to sit on it improves motor planning.

  • Sitting in a circle with other T-stool sitters motivates children to “Stay on the Stool and Be Cool.”

Jumping Activities
Materials Needed:

  • Mini Trampoline

  • Pillows or cushions

What a child can do:

  • While jumping, recite, sing or play favorite recordings.

  • Jump to rhythmic beat while singing or chanting.


  • Vigorous jumping on the resistive trampoline provides strong vestibular input as the child moves up and down.

  • Jumping provides deep pressure to the joints and muscles to strengthen Proprioception and gross motor skills.

  • Thinking up songs and rhymes promotes auditory memory.

  • Jumping to the beat promotes auditory discrimination and ear-body coordination.

  • Jumping on a trampoline stimulates the speech and language centers of the brain. A child may be more articulate than usual when the jumping is done.

Barrel Activities
Materials Needed:

  • Carpeted Barrel

What a child can do:

  • Rock or roll inside, while you guide the barrel.

  • Crawl through the barrel and a tunnel made by adding fabric over end of barrel.

  • Straddle or “ride” the barrel

  • Stretch out or curl up inside the barrel, away from distracting sights and sounds, to read, do homework, and have some restful quiet time.


  • Rocking and rolling provides vestibular, kinesthetic and proprioceptive input.

  • Crawling and climbing improves motor planning, postural control and bilateral coordination.

  • Straddling increases postural muscle strength and improves righting and equilibrium responses.

  • Resting inside allows the child to take a break and get away form it all.

Gentle Roughhousing Activities
Safe and appropriate physical activity strengthens our muscles and teaches us what our bodies can and can’t do how to protect ourselves, how to anticipate what’s coming at us, and how to make smart choices.

  • Rowboat - (Sit facing each other, legs in a “V”. Press feet against each other and take each others hands. Gently row forward and backward while singing “Row, row, row your boat.”

  • Airplane – Lie on your back, balance child’s tummy on your feet and lift child up in air while holding on to hands.

  • Horsy

  • This is the Way the Lady Rides – bounce child on lap.

  • Wheelbarrow Walk

  • Piggyback Ride

  • Double Dancer – let child stand on your feet while dancing around.


  • Changing head position, defying gravity, maintaining balance, rocking rhythmically, moving in different directions, and flexing and extending muscles are some of the moves that provide input to the vestibular system.

  • Deep tough pressure and joint pressure organize and calm the tactile and proprioceptive systems.

  • Assuming and holding different positions strengthen body awareness, muscular control, and postural security.

  • Playful roughhousing with a trusted adult or buddy builds trust, self-esteem, emotional security, social skills and a foundation for all kinds of learning.

Coping Tips
As in any activity, when a child says “Stop” or “I don’t like this” do not continue. These energetic activities may overload a child!

Information taken from “The Out of Sync Child Has Fun” by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.

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