Sensory Diet: Behavior Tip with Movement

You Oughta Know . . . .

Have you heard of a sensory diet?  If you have wigglers this year, you will want to read up on this topic.  Just like some of us need more protein to feel our optimum best, there are some students who need more sensory input.  For those students, a sensory diet can help them perform and behave better in class.  

Different students needs different types of sensory input.  For some students, they need more movement.  Think about the last long, dry, incredibly boring professional development that you attended.  Do you remember how you lost interest?  You began to look around, looked at your watch, suddenly you felt the need to use the restroom when normally you could have waited.  Lack of stimulation and engagement can make you feel these things.  

A child who needs more sensory input can feel those things in the classroom.  No, I'm not saying your teaching style is dry or boring.  I'm saying that these students feel like you did during that professional development because of their sensory needs.  You could be Robin Williams dancing on the desks in Dead Poets Society and it wouldn't be enough if these students sensory needs aren't being met.  It's not you, it is a sensory issue.

There are a variety of sensory needs.  Some need pressure, others need quiet, but the one that is probably the most noticeable is the student that needs to move.  As an adult, he or she will probably have a job that lends itself to movement, but as a kid sitting in a classroom, it can be quite a challenge.  

As a student, the lack of movement can be a hindrance.  This is where you can help. You can make this student your errands runner.  If you don't have many errands, set up a system with another teacher, librarian, secretary, or other school employee ahead of time.  Have a special envelope so when the other employee sees it, the employees knows that the student is visiting him or her to help with the student's sensory need rather than to running a legitimate errand for you.  It will save both of you time.  It gets the student up and moving.  You might even make a list of possible errands to use such as return library books.  Even if it is just one book that you read to your circle time that day, it is enough to get the student up and moving.

Another ideas you can try is something that is tangible.  Get a pillbox.  I like this one because it divides your day into 3 parts.  Pillboxes come in a variety of sizes.  You can relabel them to fit how many times a day you want to use this.

Set the pillbox and a small container of small items such as beads, beans, skittles if you're allowed to use candy, other small tokens on your desk or an area near your desk.  When you see your sensory student following the rules during the morning block, tap him or her on the shoulder or some other prearranged signal that is silent, and he or she will quietly go take one of the small tokens out of the small container and put it in the pillbox in the right time slot of the pillbox.  Then the student will go sit down.  You have reinforced without saying a word, positive behavior and you helped the student's sensory diet by allowing him or her to get up and move.  

At the end of the day, have your student record the number of tokens he or she earned in each time period on the recording sheet.  Your students will take it home to mom and dad for more positive reinforcement.

The recording sheet is a great documentation tool for conferences and RTI.

Click HERE to download this free recording sheet.

Looking for more information to help your sensory students?  Click on the links below:

I am linking up with Jasmine @ Buzzing with Mrs. McClain's You Oughta Know Blog Hop. Be sure to visit these other teachers to find more great ideas!
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Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas said...

This is amazing, I wish I had known about this years ago.
Thank you!

Unknown said...

Your daily documentation sheet is great! I learned a lot from your blog post. Thank you so much for sharing!
Best wishes!

Unknown said...

Your daily documentation sheet is wonderful! I really learned a lot from your blog post. Thank you for sharing!
Best wishes!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I've had a lot of students with these needs. My favorite errand was pushing a box of books down the hall to another teacher every afternoon. This little one really needed something to wear him out!

Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten

Unknown said...

This is great! Thanks for sharing.

Learning to be awesome

Lynda Williams said...

This is a thoughtful post with good suggestions. Teaching Science With Lynda

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for sharing this idea! I'm a parent of a "fidgeter" in second grade and I love it when I find a new idea that I can pass on to his teachers to try out!