Most of my students need help regulating their bodies and sensory needs. It can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to meet all of your students' needs while accomplishing all of the other goals that need to be worked on. I have found that the easiest way is to incorporate sensory motor activities into you regular schedule and groups. Here are 4 different ways that work in my classroom.
Aerobic tasks are great for students who need movement to increase their arousal levels, crave vestibular input or need proprioceptive input. The very first group of our school day is morning meeting. I incorporate a lot or movement into the group which you can read about HERE and HERE. On top of the movement, we also have an exercise time during morning meeting. Below is what our choice board looks like. It is part of Autism Classroom News' morning meeting starter kit. I change the pictures monthly to keep it fresh for the students.
One student picks the exercise while another student chooses the number from a bucket of numbers. By having the number choose the number we can add in an opportunity to practice number ID.
Get Students Writing In Different Positions
Students get different input when they are asked to write or sit in different movements. Moving across the different positions also gives students vestibular input. Depending on the position, students are also able to get proprioceptive input. My students love doing write the room and count the room activities. All of my Thematic Units, Alphabet Set, and Word Family Set include write the room sheets that are already leveled for you. One set is for students who can write and one set is for non-writers.
Sensory Motor By Hiding Needed Materials Or Pieces
My class goes BONKERS for interactive books. Just like the write the room and count the room sheets, we do them for every theme and holiday. To make the time even more beneficial for students, we take the pictures and hide or arrange them in a way that adds sensory motor into the activity. For example, we might hide all of the pieces in the sensory bin.
We also create sensory motor obstacle courses that the students have to go through in order to gather the pieces for the interactive books.
You can also have students act out what you are learning about. For example, in the picture below, we are acting out crawling low like in our fire safety interactive book:
Fine Motor Elements
Another way to help students regulate is to give them input through fine motor tasks. There are MANY different ways to add fine motor elements to your regular activities. One of my class' favorites is playdoh. We add it into our day to practice reading comprehension using these Read and Do Mats. Students have to read the short text and use playdoh to make the picture and text match. My students love playdoh and don't even realize that they are working on reading comprehensions....Win!! Here is an example from the winter set. There are different levels of mats in the sets so all of my students can use them. If you have non-readers, you can also use these mats to work on listening comprehension.
We also have a set playdoh time every week where students work on requesting with adjectives. For example, a student might say, "Can I have the big yellow playdoh please?" We also have students request actions (i.e help) and materials (i.e. cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc.) at this time. To get more sensory input, you can have the students stand and press their palms onto playdoh balls, roll playdoh fast or slow, etc.
I hope these ideas have sparked a new idea for you to use with your class. Do you have another favorite sensory motor idea? Share it in the comments so we can all learn!