Sensory-Friendly Family Activities to Do Over the Winter Break

By MDE School   |   December 4, 2023

The weeks leading up to the winter holiday break are always jam-packed with activities and festivities. This year will be no different. It can be a hectic time of year for your family, from end-of-semester assessments to holiday parties and gift buying.

We could all use some downtime once school lets out to recharge and relax. However, this can be a challenge for parents of special needs children. Many special needs children need help adjusting to the unstructured time that a long holiday break provides.

As a special education teacher, I know it’s essential to keep neurodivergent children busy during the day when they are not in school. I’ve rounded up some sensory-friendly outings that are entertaining for all ages for your family to enjoy over the holidays.

1. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia

Did you know that Georgia Aquarium offers low-sensory hours each day until 10:00 am? This time consists of low lighting, no music, and limited microphone use.

When you arrive at the aquarium, visit the Guest Relations Desk to check out a sensory bag. The bag contains noise-canceling headphones and fidget toys your child can use during their visit. They also have a state-of-the-art sensory room on the second level if your child feels overstimulated and needs a break.

2. Cobb Lekotek Holiday Arts and Crafts with Santa, Kennesaw, Georgia

Drop in between 1:00 and 3:00 on Thursday, December 21st for some holiday fun! Children will have an opportunity to visit with Santa, make some holiday crafts, play in the sensory room, and more! No Charge to participate, Please register to join the fun!

3. AMC and Studio Movie Grill Theaters, select locations in Georgia

Both theaters provide monthly sensory-friendly movie showings at select locations where the lights are turned up, the sound is turned down, and moving around, talking, singing, and dancing are welcome.

AMC Theater provides sensory-friendly movie showings on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

Studio Movie Grill offers sensory-friendly movie showings on select Saturdays at 11:00 am.

4. Chuck E. Cheese Sensory Sensitive Sundays, participating locations in Georgia

On the first Sunday of each month, Chuck E. Cheese opens two hours early to offer a quieter environment, dimmed lighting, and a sensory-friendly arcade to children with special needs.

The staff at MDE School wishes you and your family a safe and relaxing holiday season.

Written by Taylor Tritt, MDE School special education teacher.