Sensory in my Classroom

Behavior management is the KEY to a successful classroom program.  It can also be the hardest area to target as a the teacher.  I wanted to share some SENSORY tips today with you to help manage some of those behaviors in your classroom easily!

The first area of sensory I wanted to discuss is sensory transitions.  Transitioning to a new activity is tough in any class.  It can be a HUGE challenge for some of our students.  If you think about it, there are easily 20-40 transitions within the school day.  If a transition is a challenge, thats 40 opportunities a day for a potential tantrum.  While I know I am being a little "extreme" here, I also wanted to emphasize the importantance of a structured transitions.  Visual Schedules are key for transitions, but are always not a "catch all" for all students.  I like implement a simple strategy I learned from my Master Teacher during Student Teaching.... Monthly Sensory Integration Games!

(Click on the labels above to grab your free copy!)
Simply put, we do a quick sensory activity before my students transition OUTSIDE of the classroom.  I do not do these activities when transitioning within the classroom.  I have a tub labeled (with the ones above) in the front of the room filled with monthly sensory toys.  I usually tie these sensory toys with the monthly themes... such as color of the month. Usually, I have all of the student's seated waiting to check their schedule to go outside. (Either recess, lunch, music, library etc.) I then use a sensory object to prompt them to check their schedule.  For example, I would say, "If your seated nicely, you will get a turn with my special toy.  Catch the red balloon and throw it back.  Good Job! Check your schedule."

So here are a few activities I use in September:

1.  Catch the RED balloon.

2.  Squeeze the apple

3. Catch the bumpy ball.  Roll the ball on your tummy

4. Dance with the scarf.  Rub the scarf on your arm.

5. Shake the red tambourine . 

6. Roll the play doh

7. Squeeze the squishy toy

I rotate new sensory toys for transition ever month so that the kids don't get burnt out on my games.  This is a great way to get all of the student's attention back on me and focused before lining up to go outside.  I'd love to hear how you manage your transitions!

The next sensory strategy I wanted to share with you today was the use of an individualized sensory tub for those extra needy students.  Do you have those students that struggle to participate in simple whole class activities or table top tasks? I have a few fidgety kids in my class.  So what do I do with them? I give them a sensory box! 

I went to the Dollar Tree and got cheap bins with lids.  I have two students currently with their own tub.  I like the dollar tree bins because they are not too deep, thus they fit inside their desk!  I add velcro to the lid and then I can label all of the items inside the box for that particular student using v visual icons.  This makes for a great communication activity as well.  Student's will request 1 item from the box by choosing an icon. For every item in the box, their is a visual icon.

Depending on the student, I will put different things in the box.  I allow my kiddo's to carry an object around with them if it will help soothe them.  As long as the kiddo is working and on task, they can choose a sensory item.  If it becomes a distraction, either myself or a staff member will simply carry the box to the child and prompt them to put it back inside. 

The goal of these boxes are to help students carry on through the daily schedule as independent as possible.  With these boxes I try to ease my children off of them.  I slowly start putting "less interesting" items in the tub, less items, and give it to them for shorter amounts of the time.  I love these sensory boxes... and let me tell you... they have been a life-saver to me!

I love looking for cute sensory table ideas online.  But then I am always puzzled in how to store them/not make a mess in my room.  I decided to make sensory bins that can fit in a lid.  After recess, my class comes in from recess and its either book time (silent reading) or sensory time depending on the child.  Of course reading a book in the swing or bean bag chair will still be an option!  This is where I add in moon sand, play doh as well as all of my sensory bins.  Having students get that down time after recess makes for a great transition to work centers after recess.  During this time, we also do toileting to reduce the interruptions during work centers.

(Click on the image below to get the free "PEC's" I created for a Sensory Break!)
When the kiddo's walk in from recess, they will check their schedules which states "book time" or "sensory break."  I will have a sensory break file folder which the children will pick a sensory activity from.  The icons will represent one sensory activity.  They will take the icon to the sensory tub and attach it to the matching icon.  If they choose a piece of equipment, they will carry the icon to the activity.

I created 8 sensory tubs to choose from.  Here are what I have set up for now! I will rotate them through once the kiddo's get bored of them.

(Sand Box... minus the sand haha!)

(Ball bin with scoop scissors!)

(race cars and tunnels!)


(Cooking with beans!)

(Tea party with rice)

(Army men and moon sand... minus the sand haha!)

(Textured coloring! I will have this set up in a tub with crayons!)

OF COURSE, we use the disco ball during this time.  MY KIDS ARE OBSESSED.  It was the best 8$ purchase from Big Lots LOL

We all LOVE Pinterest for new and innovative ideas for our classroom.  Follow me on pinterest to see what ideas I find :)  Click below to find my sensory board!
Here is a pinterest board about sensory idea's!

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