Sensory activities benefit very small children – and especially kids with disabilities – in numerous ways. These activities help to strengthen the mind and prepare it for a lifetime of learning. Sensory play is rather simple, and it involves activities that encourage children to interact with things that make different noises, feel different to the touch, and more. Here are some examples of sensory activities that are great for classrooms.
Sing-Alongs with Instruments
Introducing instruments like triangles, tambourines, and even kazoos into the classroom is wonderful for sensory activities. Kids can incorporate these instruments into their favorite songs and the whole classroom can sing them together. It may require a little pre-planning on the teacher’s part when it comes to determining when certain instruments should be played, but kids will absolutely love the idea of making some noise in the classroom.
Sensory Tubs for Playtime
Sensory tubs are becoming more and more popular in classrooms, especially for preschoolers and kindergarteners. These may include play sand or water along with a variety of unique toys designed specifically for play in that tub. Digging, splashing, floating, and sinking are all great ways to get kids exploring with their senses, and you can even use alternative materials if you wish. These include things like cornmeal, dry pieces of pasta, and a tub filled with non-toxic foam.
Hula Hooping Competition
An entire classroom filled with hula hooping kids may work if you can do it outside, but if not, you can clear a space and have one to three kids “compete” at a time. See which of the three kids can hoop the longest, then bring in two other kids to compete against that child. The winner can receive a “Hula Hoop Champion” crown – made of paper and glue-on jewels – to wear for the rest of the day.
Of course, there are plenty of things kids can do in the classroom to help the teacher and their classmates that are considered sensory activities, too. These include:
- Cleaning the whiteboard/chalkboard;
- Stapling or pinning pages to bulletin boards;
- Passing out papers to classmates/collecting papers from classmates; and
- Enlisting students’ help in carrying weighted objects to and from offices and other classrooms.
These things get kids out of their usual routines and help break up the monotony. Stimulating kids’ senses can help them refocus on learning when appropriate, as well.
Children require sensory stimulation quite frequently, especially when they are very young. For this reason, it is important for teachers and volunteers to provide outdoor recesses whenever possible. The change in temperature and air movement is relieving for many kids, and even a change in humidity can promote a sense of calm. Recesses can be organized, meaning kids play games together as a group, or they can provide some much-needed free play time, too.
For older kids, sensory activities like athletics provide much of the stimulation they need to grow into healthy, well-rounded adults. For younger kids, though, it’s up to teachers to provide those activities in the classroom. The options here are only a few of the activities that benefit kids, so be sure to seek others on your own or modify these to suit your classroom’s needs.