Archive for the 'sensory' Category

Need to Wiggle? Teacher Tips

Tips for those kids who need to wiggle to stay alert but should not leave their seat:

1. Chew gum or suck on sour candy (if allowed in school; allow at home if no problem with choking or swallowing)

2. Tie a stretchy exercise band around the front legs of the chair.  Place your legs and feet behind the band.  When the need to get out of the chair arises and you should not, push against the band to help release the “wiggles”.

3. Try a “Sit and Move Cushion”. This has bumps on one side and air inside which allows “wiggling” without getting out of the chair.  Purchase at or

4. Place tennis balls on the back legs of the chair to provide gentle rocking movements.

Other tips you can think about?

Just a thought: For I know the plans I have for you….Jeremiah 29:11


Scissor Skills: Stability before Mobility

One rule to remember when you are preparing a child to do fine motor work such as using scissors, is “stability before mobility”.  We all need to feel like we are not going to fall before we put our hands out to use tools.  Encourage a “safe” feeling by placing a child in a chair that fits (feet flat on the floor) and at a table which fits (top should be two inches above his bent elbow).  Encourage a “safe” feel by working in sitting on the floor.  Try this interesting trick to see how it feels to fell “unsafe”.  Sit in a chair of your choice.  Scoot to the edge of the chair and pick up your feet to the point they are not touching the floor.  Do not lean back in the chair (for support) and put your arms and hands out in front of you as if to write or use scissors.  Pretty hard to do!  You are not stable!  So please remember before you put the scissors in your child’s hands to “stabilize” first!

Teaching Scissor Skills

During my recent workshops, the subject of how to teach scissor usage repeatedly came up.  I would love your input as we discuss the numerous skills needed for the actual use of scissors!  These are the ones I could think of!  Can you think of more?  We will take time to discuss these in my next blogs!

  1. Good posture: Stability before mobility
  2. Use of two hands together
  3. Strong hands
  4. Interest in scissor usage
  5. Concept of open and shut
  6. Equipment: types of scissors, practice “stuff”, paper weight

Isaiah 55:12

Holiday Overload

    For all children and adults, the holidays can be a time of fun but also one of  sensory overload.  Schedules change, company comes in with lots of hugging and talking, new food is introduced, music plays, lights flash and the list goes on.  Here are five suggestions for these delightful but busy days:

  1. Mark a calendar for counting down the days until the holiday.
  2. When a schedule changes, talk about it the day and night before.  Prepare yourself and your child for the changed schedule.
  3. Schedule in “down” time for each day even if it’s just 15 minutes.
  4. Have a quiet place for both children and adults to “time out”. Have an extended time before bedtime for “winding down”.  This may include reading a book, listening to quiet music, drawing in bed, a snack involving sucking through a straw.  Watch and listen to your child to find what soothes him.
  5. If your child over reacts to his environment, encourage your visiting friends and relatives to ask the child’s permission before hugging him.

Puzzles, Parquetry and Writing: Math Modifications

For children with visual perceptual issues, math may be challenging!  Here are some suggestions:

Number charts: When using a number chart, many children with visual
perceptual weaknesses cannot distinguish individual numbers.  Adapt the chart by placing a space in between each line or row of numbers.

Lining up numbers: Many children have difficulty lining up rows of numbers as they solve math problems. Try graph paper or turn a piece of notebook paper sideways to create vertical columns. Graph paper may help with spacing but be aware that a student may be overwhelmed by the multiple lines.

Math Signs: Highlight math signs if they change on a math worksheet. If the problems switch from addition to subtraction, have the student first highlight all the addition problems and work these first.

Worksheets: Block out portions of the worksheet by using an index card or ruler or by folding the paper in half. This will help with “too much on the page”.

Visual horizontal tracking problem: If this exists, many children prefer to work their math worksheets from top to bottom (1, 11, 21, etc.) rather than side to side (horizontally 1
to 10).  Make the child’s teacher aware of the tracking issue so he is not penalized for “jumping around the page” or not following instructions.

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection?

For older children, puzzles with multiple interlocking pieces offer more advanced

  • Spatial concept of “corner”: As the child puts sides pieces together with top or bottom
    pieces, this concept is learned. Interesting we don’t use the word “corner”
    much anymore in our conversations!
  • Attention to details: “Part to whole”: Details/ parts can come together to make a picture.
  • Visual memory: This is encouraged as the child looks at the picture on  the box,
    remembers a part of it, and goes to find pieces.
  • Figure Ground: The child is able to find one piece among many pieces.

multi piece puzzles


 Concepts of corners  Names are written in the left upper corner of the paper
 Attention to details on the pieces  Attention to details that make a “b” turn into a “d”
 Visual  memory  Ability to picture and remember the “looks” of a letter (Writing of a
letter comes through motor memory.)
 Figure Ground  Ability to sort out words from a busy blackboard or a letter from the
middle of a word; ability to write on a line without being distracted by the
line (letter will be flat on the bottom if distracted by the line).

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection #2

Last blog post, we looked at simple inset puzzles.  Before moving on let’s take these skills we discussed and see how they apply to writing:

Inset puzzle
Visual discrimination: Shape of the puzzle piece and the space it  goes in are the same or can be different A letter needs to fit on or between  lines. A half circle and a long stick may or  may not be the same letter (d,b)
Visualization: A puzzle piece must be turned over  or rotated in the child’s mind and in his
A letter may be turned over or rotated to form a new letter (b,p,n,u)
Child must visualize (remember) the shape and where it goes as he  removes the pieces from the board A letter must be visualized (remembered) while writing it to be  matched to the picture of the letter in the child’s mind (long-term memory)
Color or size does not change the shape of the piece A letter’s shape does not change regardless of color or size

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R