It's the beginning of the NEW YEAR! At this point, you are halfway through the school year (go ahead- do a dance, pat yourself on the back, perhaps drink a glass of wine to celebrate)! We will return to school after the holiday break and have a brief amount of "honeymoon" time with our students before tools and tactics need to be put into place, once again, to help our sensory seekers and squirmers to succeed. And this year, my classroom is chock full of these types of learners. Like most teachers, I am willing to try almost anything in order to benefit my students. At the same time, it is important that the methods implemented are reasonable, effective, and sustainable. I have provided a small, yet detailed list below of a few tools and tactics that have been easy to create, implement, and are effective for all students. Of course, there are GOBS of resources related to sensory seekers. Use what you can from this page and please share your knowledge and tools!
"Bubble seats"- A student favorite
Our school is part of a university and is open for tours and observations. When teacher candidates or teachers from other schools tour my classroom, the most asked about thing is what my students call the "bubble seat".
When I moved from teaching 3rd to teaching 1st grade (a grade I never expected to teach), I almost immediately began researching tools to use for my continuously active students. As I perused Pinterest and various blogs, I noticed some teachers using fitness balls as students' work spots, a research-based strategy for improving a student's motivation and attention span. I couldn't deny that this was a fabulous idea, however, all I could picture in my 1st grade classroom was exercise balls rolling everywhere. So I continued my search for something similar and came across a few Pinterest posts that show bouncing balls stuffed inside crates. You may find this effective... I have about 3 broken crates that say otherwise. So, I was left with my creative mind and the ideas I had acquired and began inventing-ish.
Here are the materials needed:
Here are the steps:
Visual tools are often seen used with students on the autism spectrum or with autistic tendencies. I began using this with one student in my classroom but am now finding them helpful for many others. The cue cards shown below are used to help remind students of expectations, mostly during whole group instructional times. I have placed the two cards most used at the top of the deck, if you will, including a "Good job" card. Keep in mind that the more cards you include, the more difficult this will be to implement. I wear the cards all day and, while it took a while to use them consistently, it now feels like second nature. To implement visual cue cards, I simply state the child's name or give a respectful signal the child and I have agreed upon to gain her attention, then flash the card in respect to his current behavior. I try as best I can to use the card offering praise twice as often as the others (I'll be honest- this is VERY difficult at times). My students have responded very well to these visual cue cards. Victories N' Autism, a site dedicated to sharing strategies and tools helpful for children with ASD, has a set of visual cue cards available for download. You may decide to create your own set, if you're a DIYer :).
I have thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of using sand timers in the classroom. We use them several different ways and the list increases as the school year progresses. The inexpensive sand timers pictured here can be purchased online at Lakeshore Learning. Here are a few ways sand timers are used in my classroom:
The most important thing to remember when attempting to implement any of these strategies or tools is to teach explicitly, review expectations thoroughly, MODEL, MODEL, MODEL, and allow students to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Share your positive and helpful thoughts or questions below!
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- teacher, mentor, leader, mother, and wife aspiring to be much more!