Sensory diets in the classroom

Now that we have considered what Sensory Diets are as well as looked at some options of sensory diets at home it is just obvious that the next step would be to look at some activities that can be incorporated in a classroom environment.

  • Ask the child that needs a break to take a note to another teacher, or to carry a pile of books to the office etc. This provides movement as well as proprioceptive input that can assist in calming or alerting a child.

  • Playing soft nature sounds or classical music in the background in your class could assist with regulation. Just remember though that some kids need activation, so they would love a song with a beat as well. Ideally each child will be able to listen to their own music (via IPod etc.). Music could then be carefully selected for each child’s individual needs.

  • Objects that can be fidgeted with (stress ball, pieces of fabric, a hairband) can be placed in a child’s pocket or pencil case to use when they feel the need for it.

  • Place a band of stretchy material (strong, thick elastic or theraband) around the frond legs of the child’s chair. The child can then press his/her feet, ankles and shins against it to provide necessary proprioceptive input.

  • Carpet squares are often helpful for little ones. It provides a boundary wherein the child must sit while on the carpet.

  • Sitting on an inflatable cushion can provide the subtle movement to assist in sitting still for longer periods. A good alternative to an inflatable cushion is a hot water bottle filled with air.

  • Push-ups and jumping jacks or jumping in one place provides a good movement break because it not only provides movement (vestibular input) but also proprioceptive input. This can be alerting for some children and calming for others.

  • All children – especially those with sensory challenges, need opportunities to move before, during and after school. Staying in at break can literally cause more meltdowns than allowing the child to have break and providing running and playing opportunities.