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Home > Helping Children Attend, Learn, and Focus > Sensorimotor Classroom Suggestions

Sensorimotor Classroom Suggestions



  • Use of weight vests, ankle weights, wrist weights or vibration back massagers or neck massagers to enhance propnoceptive feedback.

  • Use of desensitization procedures (including specific brushing program if prescribed by OT and/or hand hugs, hand massage, vibration massagers, deep pressure calming input) as a precursor to difficult groups, transitions or fine motor/sensory activities.

  • Provision of a "quiet sensory break space" within the classroom to allow the child to avoid sensory input and overload and resulting behaviors and/or hyperactivity. Space should be somewhat enclosed and contain vibration, or weighted blanket, and fidget options. 

  • If possible, opportunities for heavy resistive or high impact activities (activities providing high levels of muscle/joint, deep pressure touch and movement input) should be spaced periodically throughout the day.  Mini trampolines or jump-o-lenes in a corner can be a great option in the classroom. 

  • Group times can incorporate simple movement sequences that provide above input using you tube based classroom movement breaks, Go Noodle, or Brain Gym on You Tube. 

  • Some children calm when given an object to mouth or chew and are better able to focus and attend for activities. Options for this include: chewing gum, Chewelry, vibration oral massagers, etc.  

  • Allow the child to be first or last in line and to sit slightly separated from the group to reduce the number of times others bump or brush up against her.. He/she is sensitive to light and/or unexpected touch. Sitting next to an adult may help child feel more comfortable in groups.

  • Be aware of the child's sensitivity to noise (that he/she does not control), visual input (children moving around, many objects in the room), and unexpected and/or light touch. Understand that he/she feels threatened by these things.  Get help from OT on how to deal with issues.  

Handwriting Warm-ups

  • Two minutes of waking up wrists, hands, and fingers

  • Rub palms on carpet, jeans, or any fabric

  • Shake and loosen up arms to fingers (music)

  • Push palms together; push & pull individual fingers (or Chinese finger traps)

  • Fold hands and try to pull apart

  • Wheelbarrow with partners

  • Holding 1 pound cans of food (unopened) in each hand, do series of arm circles (half class)

  • While half class is doing above activity, others stand at chalkboard, both hands doing continual designs such as large loops, ovals, waves. Chalk can be in each hand for clover leaf with thumbs together.

  • Students do clothespin activities/finger exercises

  • (Partners) Passing playing cards from left hand to right hand using a clothespin in each hand

  • Isolated finger movements/exercises: using thumb and one finger at a time, do a set number of "squeezes".  Make sure they maintain a circle vs, an oval in thumb space.

  • Stretching rubber bands between fingers (individually)

  • In-hand object manipulation (start at little finger side)

  • Sign Language Alphabet

  • Lying on floor using a small pillow or support will encourage shoulder stability development, increased attention to task, and work muscles against gravity to increase ocular motor development.

  • Clay writing to provide resistive feedback encouraging eye-hand coordination

  • Touch spelling: partners draw with finger on each others back (between shoulder blades) using letters of new spelling works while partner guesses what was written.

  • Students can complete written lesson at a vertical surface. This encourages visual attention, mature hand grasp patterns, and bilateral development since one hand has to hold the paper up. (Chalkboard, magnet boards, doors, walls)

  • Use an easel whenever a student is struggling with pencil grasp or visual attention to their work.

  • Use the mouth to get visual attention. Snacks should be during writing not separate. Sucking pulls the eyes together for better focusing and attention. Sucking through a straw to place a bingo paper in the correct spot is a great "wake up" activity prior to writing.




Proprioceptive activities are those that stimulate joint muscle feedback. They include activities in which there is increased resistance, especially in anti-gravity postures.

For those children that have sensory registration problems and attempt to modulate their level of attending by automatically choosing these types of activities, here are some additional ideas, which can be incorporated during "30 second breaks" in the classroom. They are best used before or during classes, which demand attending such as paper/pencil work. Once you and the students try a few of these, both of you will probably come up with many more ideas.


  • Wall Pushing: Students stand facing the wall, hands up at about shoulder level, and push, pretending to try to push right through the wall. For younger students, have them push to the count of Ten while pushing. For older students, have them do slow, repetitive push-ups, coming forward and touching the wall with their nose only, before straightening arms again and pushing away.

  • Leg Pulls: Have students individually roll up into a ball, pulling or squeezing legs below knee, pair up with partners. While one student sits with back to wall, and bears down with hands into floor for stability, the partner literally pulls each leg From the ankle a series of about ten times.

  • Ring-Sit-Pull: Students sit in a ring or long-leg posture, legs extended out in front of them on the floor. They grab their feet and pull, doing approximately ten repetitions.

  • Ring-Sit-Sit-ups: Have partners facing each other on the floor. Legs should be out straight front of them, soles of feet together. Have them work on alternate sit-ups, and especially during the sit-up phase, should the one sitting work hard to pull his partner up. The partner laying down should-not assist in the sit-up. To add finger traction/proprioception, have them pull each other up as they both grab onto the plastic rings a six pack of pop comes in.

  • Finger Tug-O-War: Using the plastic pop rings, have the kids sit facing each other to pull the partner over, if possible.

  • Table Pull: While sitting at either the desk or at a table, have each child pull across and grab the opposite edge. Repeat about ten pulls, as they pretend to compress the table.

  • Elbow Push~up: While sitting at table or desk, have each student place elbows down on the top;lift body up onto elbows, compressing or pushing the elbow joint into the table.

  • Crab Walk Rock:Each student lies on the floor on his or her back.They raise their bodies up on all fours, and without moving any distance, rock forward and backward, or side to side rhythmically.To about the count of twenty.

  • Wheelbarrow walk: Weight is on hands, while a second person holds legs. Instead of 'walking', have the student with hands on floor rock forward and backward.

  • Hand Rub: Have each student place hands in 'prayer' position, Fingers interwoven, and alternate palm pressing and finger pulling.

  • Finger Pulls: Have each student pretend they are pulling gloves on, starting at the top of each finger, and pulling down. They may follow this by pulling each finger of glove off.

  • Clapping: Incorporate hand clapping/thigh slapping rhythms in either a loud or soft format.

  • Back-to-back Pull: Partners sit with backs together, arms inter-locked at the elbows. Each one alternately rolls forward, trying to raise his partner off the floor slightly.

  • Shoulder Depressors: Assume long-sitting posture. With hands at side of hips, push palm into floor, raising bottom off the floor. Legs need to remain straight. Rock forward/backward or side-to side as possible. Clothespins: Any activities involving opening/closing clothespins can be used. Emphasize using the thumb and individual finger alone in order to give input to all fingers.

  • Rubberband games: Stretch rubber bands between thumb and individual fingers, or different finger pairs. Work on stretching apart.

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