30 Ways to Support Sensory Needs


Have you noticed more children struggling with focus and attention? Although you provide all of the bells and whistles to make engaging lessons for your kiddos, are they not listening as much as you hoped? Do some of your students seem revved up and ready to race ALL OF THE TIME? While others could fall asleep at any time? Are they fidgety, moving in their seats, or chewing on anything and everything?  Are you in search of ways to support sensory needs in your classroom? Well, I feel you and hear you! I am you! ?

My class over the last few years has really needed a huge focus on sensory. Fortunately, I have talked to tons of O.T.’s and other teachers. And with their help, I found some GREAT sensory solutions to support needs in most rooms. Now, I am sharing 30 Ways to Support Sensory Needs in Your Classroom that you (and I) can start TODAY! (#6, #12, and #30 are my absolute faves! Check them out first!).

Ways to Support Sensory for Movement

  1. Wall push-ups. Copy a left and a right hand (or many of both), laminate, and tape to the wall. With feet planted and hands placed on the printed hands, kids complete 10-15 wall push-ups.

2.Classroom Exercises. Do simple exercises like toe touches and overhead reaches. Do ten repetitions, including crossing the left arm to the right foot and the right arm to the left foot. Complete 4-5 exercises.

3. Movement Breaks. Simon Says or Follow the Leader are great games for the whole class. I love to have the kids mirror me, where they mirror my movements for a few minutes, and then we sit down.

4. Dance Party. Put on some tunes and let them shake and wiggle. It only takes about 5 minutes. Afterward, we sit and take calming breaths together.

5. Office duty. Heavy chores such as carrying a stack of books to the library or retrieving some reams of paper from the office are heavy work activities. These activities work for calming and getting the brain sensors organized.

6. Watch Me Grow. Have students lengthen and stretch their necks, shoulders, arms, and fingers.

Ways to Support Sensory in Personal Space

7. Chair Push-ups. Students grab the sides of the chair, and while pushing down, they lift their bottoms off the chair.

8. Jump in Place. No small trampoline? No problem. Have your students jump in place. Jump forward and back. Then, jump from side to side. Repeat five times.

9. Turn around slowly in place. Then change directions.

10. Desk Bands. If you have kids with constantly moving feet, tie an exercise band to the two front legs of the chairs. The child should be able to use their feet to push on the band without going to the floor.

11. Alternative Seating. Wiggly students need their chairs to wiggle. Wobbly stools are a fantastic way for them to wiggle while at their desks! Or you can try bean bag chairs, exercise balls, scoop seats, or let them stand.

12. Opening. Kids open their mouths wide, then close them. Then, they open their arms wide and close them. Finally, they do the same with the legs. Repeat five times.

Ways to Support Sensory with Tactile Activities

13. Fidgets. Whether it be squishy items, pulling items, twirling objects, handheld items are perfect for little hands to keep busy. Try velcro dots under the desk for a student to rub quietly.

14. Sensory Bins. Fill them with a small selection of fidgets and textures. Each student has their bin that teachers can personalize for their needs.

15. Therapy Putty. Squishing and pulling on therapy putty is perfect for moving hands. It also works to strengthen fingers and hands for better handwriting! That’s a win-win.

16. Water Beads. Personally, I don’t particularly appreciate touching putty, water beads, shaving cream, etc. My kiddos can’t seem to get enough. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a water table in your room, use a 9×11 pan!

17. Tear It Up. Having kids tear up various types of paper into teeny tiny pieces seems just wrong. But, it is a fantastic way to incorporate fine motor with sensory.

18. Calm Bottles. Having kids create their own calming bottles with glitter is the bomb to them! These bottles by Martha Stewart are fantastic! When they need calming, they can give their bottle a little shake and watch the glitter slowly float to the bottom.

19. Filled Balloons. Fill balloons with different things like rice, water beads, flour, or playdough. Make sure to put a second balloon over the filled one and securely tie it.

20. Lotion.  A little squirt into their hands of some lightly scented lotion (I use lavender), and they can rub it into their arms and hands. Once social distancing isn’t so vital, rubbing lotion onto the arms and hands of some children with a little pressure will calm some students quickly!

21. Coloring.

Ways to Support Sensory for Oral Motor Needs

22. Blowing Bubbles. Keep a supply of small bottles (big bottles tend to get spilled) of bubbles in your classroom!

23. Therapy Tubing.  Some kids will chew on pencils, markers, paper, etc., to meet their oral needs. Therapy tubing can be purchased in bulk and then cut down for individual use.

24. Coffee Swizzle Sticks. I love cheap and disposable! Give those kids that chew on everything a coffee swizzle stick to chew on. Once they have chewed up one stick, pitch it and on to the next!

25. Crazy Straws. It is harder to suck water and milk through a crazy straw than it is a regular straw. For those students needing some oral motor work, you can purchase crazy straws in bulk or at your local dollar store!

Ways to Support Sensory Bonus Ideas

26. Natural Light and Light Covers.

27. Drawing. Some kids truly are really engaged in drawing activities. Check out this great item from ETTC!


28. Ice.  Kids that need oral motor can chomp or suck ice. Kids that enjoy tactile can move the ice across dry tempura to create some beautiful pictures.

29. Calming Space. Create a calming corner in your classroom or other calming space!

30. Calming Breaths and Yoga Moves. I love doing breaths with the kiddos, and yoga is my favorite time of the day (especially child’s pose!). Click on the link for 35 calming videos on YouTube!

We hope you will find some useful ideas out of these 30 ways to support sensory needs in your classroom right away! I have really focused on my calming breaths and my own sensory issues (yuck to water beads and putty for me!) to try to be my best me as well! Now, I am ready to implement these suggestions TODAY!

Written by Suzanne Kelley


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