Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sensory activities in my classroom

I see huge value in engaging students senses in activities we do in the classroom. We do lots of sensory-related activities throughout the day, from quick songs to fine motor skills centres.

Throughout the day we sing songs that involve finger and hand movement, and do little activities that support finger control. For example, we sing songs such as Where is Thumbkin? and Little Rabbit Foo Foo. Before writing I often get my students to hold up all ten fingers, wiggle there fingers, then put all fingers down except for one. I might say "wiggle all ten fingers, now hide all except for your pointer finger". We do this with rapid fire instructions so that my students have to listen carefully and also have to have quick control over their fingers.

During the first 7 weeks at school I ran a perceptual motor program (PMP) or a fine motor skills (FMS) program every morning for the first hour (alternating days). For PMP we explored lots of gross motor skills, including balancing, jumping, crawling, hopping, crossing the midline and throwing/catching. I don't have any photos of these, but the kids loved doing this every morning. I had them in two groups (one group with me and one with my classroom aide) and the students would do both activities for 10-15min. I think this program helped my students settle into school, and it certainly helped with their gross motor skills. I have a pack at my TpT store with activity cards for PMP.

Our fine motor skills program is something that I will continue throughout the year, but from term 2 on it will be incorporated into our reading groups sessions, instead of a stand alone lesson. We have done such a huge range of fine motor skills activities, and the kids love the variety. I have photos of some of these! Here they are:

Giant chalk drawings to support arm movement and control. It is also a very different experience drawing on concrete with chalk, than drawing on paper with pencils.

Constructions with soft blocks supports control/stability of arm movements. And, as an added bonus, it helps kids learn to share and get along!

Sorting small objects works to engage kids because the items are interesting, the items all feel different and I get them to sort by as many different attributes as they can, so they might sort by colour first, then size, shape, texture, if the object can roll, if it's shiny, etc.

We do lots of threading and weaving. This one is very straight forward and supports their hand/eye coordination. We have different patterns that we focus on, like all straws going one way, or criss-cross, or on a diagonal.

Very easy threading task using bright coloured buttons that are different shapes and some rubber string. Some students like to create patterns or sort out the buttons before they thread.

And, finally, the coloured rice from yesterday!
I will be using the coloured rice, all mixed up in a big container, as a sensory bin. It will be a centre in my reading groups session. The first centre is going to be focused on sorting out capital and lower case letters, students will have to fish out the magnetic letters from in amongst the rice and then sort them out on a chart. I know that the sensation of having their hands in rice will interest all of my students, but it will also be calming for a couple of them.

I love using sensory activities in my classroom!

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