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Last modified: October 28, 2022

Sensory Motor

Sitting for long periods of time can be challenging for some students, and Sensory Breaks can be helpful–the nice thing is that they can be helpful for all when teachers can build them into the day.  When needed, they can be provided to just the students who really need them, here are some ideas:

(Some suggestions involve the use of playground equipment, and can be used during recess time or w/supervision on a break as needed.) 

Reference:  “Take Five! Staying Alert at Home and School ” Williams/Shelenberger  (See link to Alert Program on the left.)

Put Something in Your Mouth (Oral Motor Input)

  • Take a sip of cold water, or a sip from a water bottle
  • “Chew” on a straw
  • Crunch on a snack such as nuts, pretzels, chips, or carrots
  • Take slow deep breaths through the mouth
  • Chew gum, if appropriate for classroom rules, or suck on hard candy or chew on taffy.

Move (Vestibular & Proprioceptive Input)

  • has some fun songs with guided movement, for a variety of ages.
  • Rock in a rocking chair, sit on a T-stool or vestibular seat cushion, or move body in chair
  • Roll head & neck slowly
  • Sit w/crossed legs and bounce one slightly, or tap a toe or foot
  • Stretch
  • Push on/against a wall or desk
  • Climb up and down playground equipment
  • Monkey bars or jungle gym, or climb the ladder and go down the slide
  • Wear a pressure or weighted vest for 20 mins
  • Place a weighted pillow on lap or over shoulders (can be made using dry rice, beans, or synthetic beads.)
  • Touch (Tactile Input)
  • Fidget doing any of the following:
  • Move coins or paperclips around in pocket or desk w/fingers
  • Play w/a surgical scrub brush, “koosh-ball” or similar toy
  • Bend & fold/unfold a straw
  • Place paper clips on and off an index card
  • Squeeze a stress ball or similar toy, or play with clay or putty
  • Put fingers near mouth, eye, or nose
  • Wash hands in warm or cold water

Look (Visual Input):

  • Open or close shades in the classroom
  • Watch “oil & water” toys
  • Provide variety of colored paper for writing, worksheets, etc.

Listen (Auditory Input):

  • Listen to Classical Music using headphones
  • Sing or talk when appropriate—teacher can guide whole class in a song, poem, spelling
  • words or reciting info out loud as a group, etc.
  • Adjust noise level in room or work area—place child’s desk away from centers where
  • others might be talking, closer to the teacher, etc.
  • Provide white noise in the room—use a fan or a “soothing sounds” device.
  • Use headphones-earbuds or construction type in-ear or over-the-ear headphones to dampen noise (can be used as needed for loud assemblies, for example, if desired.)