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Sensory with Sallerson: Tips for Teachers

 Tips for Teachers – Classroom Specific


In this segment of Sensory with Sallerson, we explore different scenarios and tips to meet a child’s sensory needs in the classroom.

 Scenario One: So here come the kids. Oh gosh, that Johnny, he is such a hand full. He rocks in his chair, fiddles with things on his desk, chews his pencils and is always talking in class. What should I do with him?

This child can be sensory defensive, sensory seeking, poor ability to attend, and look like ADDHD due to the sensory issues.

 Scenario Two: So here come the kids. Oh gosh, that Joey, he can’t keep in his seat. He slouches in his chair and sometimes even slides onto the floor. He always looks sleepy and his work is a mess. He can’t pay attention making it impossible for learning to happen.
This child has a low state of arousal, poor body map, poor motor planning, and poor sensory awareness.

It is important to recognize that the behavior is often out of their control. It is how their nervous system works. Here are some exercises you can try in the classroom. If possible, work with the child in a sensory room. An Occupation Therapy (OT) assessment will also indicate if a sensory program can benefit the child.

  1. Have the kids rub their arms and legs with a dry washcloth to get some nice invigorating tactile input.
  2. Have the kids all sit down then reach up for the ceiling and stretch as far as they can.
  3. Have the kids stand up and sit down 10 times. (It’s important to note that if the start to feel sick they can stop at any time.)
  4. Have the kids stomp their feet for 30 seconds after you do the sit and stand activity.
  5. To help the “wigglers,” have them sit on a therapy ball at their desk.  A beach ball with a little air in it may be a more cost efficient option. There should be enough air in it so that he/she cannot feel the chair under his/her bottom but not so much that he will fall off of the chair.
  6. For the child who are “real wigglers,” place a Theraband across the front of their chair and tie it around the frame. This will allow him/her to push or pull with his/her feet or legs. This allows proprioceptive input for calming.
  7. For the “chewer” or child that loves to play with things with his/her hands, have things available like art erasures, rubber tubing (for the ends of the pencils), rubber bands to pull on or gum (if allowed.)  (Note: Implement rules so that the kids do not abuse these tools.)
  8. Weighted blankets or lap pads help some kids to stay calmer.
  9. Pressure vests can help but may be too hot for our climate.
  10. It’s important to schedule activities that allow a child to move every hour or so. Doing 2, 3, and 4 can really help the child focus. Set a timer or do them between lessons. Although the exercise take a few minutes, you will have a calmer classroom and ultimately more productivity.

Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

Workshops are available with Angela Sallerson, OTR/L regarding fine motor development for handwriting and sensory processing in the classroom. Contact asallerson@imuafamily.org.

Diana Henry. Tools for Teachers. 2008. Web. 1/2014, www.ateachabout.com
NP. Ready Bodies Learning Minds. 2014. Web. 1/2-14, www.readybodies.com
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons