Embedding Sensory Input into the Classroom

  • Situation

    How do I provide sensory breaks to a child during a busy classroom day without the child leaving his/her desk and missing important instructional time?

  • Summary

    Include several 3 minute sensory breaks into a student’s daily schedule during class transition times. Provide a menu with 3 or 4 simple exercises the child may do at his/her desk to provide input and help improve focus. The picture or written menu may include the following sensory exercises:

    • take 5 deep breathes
    • do 5 chair pushups
    • squeeze your hands together or a fidget ball 5 times
    • stretch your arms up in the air and take a deep breath 5 times
    • give yourself a big hug and count to 5.

    Choose the exercises that best suit your student and classroom.

  • Definition

    This easy intervention will allow children to benefit from including sensory breaks throughout their school day by embedding the simple exercises into their schedule without requiring them to leave their desks or miss instructional time.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17, 18+
    • Planning Effort: Low
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Access to menu of sensory exercises

  • Process

    1. Determine a list of exercises that a child may do at his/her seat.

    2. Make a menu of the exercises according to each child’s ability by writing the list, using clip art or taking actual photos to represent each exercise.

    3. Use a sheet protector, laminate or contact paper to protect the menu.

    4. Decide where in the daily schedule to include an “exercise” time.

    5. Practice using the menu and doing each exercise.

    6. Give the child the menu to keep at his/her desk and insert the specific exercise times into the child’s schedule.

    7. Cue the child if needed when it is exercise time until it becomes a routine.

    8. Other options include providing a full class exercise time.

    9. When making the menu you may put all exercise options on it and have the child choose 3 or 4 each time or only put the exercises you want the child to do on it.

    10. Decide according to the child’s ability to understand and use the menu.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    Embedding Sensory 1 list of exercises (Word document)


    Embedding Sensory 1 list of exercises (PDF)


    Embedding Sensory 2  list of exercises (Word document)


    Embedding Sensory 2 list of exercises (PDF)


    Classroom Strategies for Proprioceptive Senses (Watson resource)


    Proprioceptive Input Strategies (resource link)