Top 10 Sensory Tools for Elementary Students

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Whether you have a designated calm corner in your classroom or not (though I think you should!), having sensory tools in your classroom is a must! Sensory tools aren't just for your heavy hitters, students with diagnosed disabilities, or the wiggly ones - they're for everybody! They can help students when they're dysregulated, give students tools to use to keep their attention, offer a helpful break from academics, and more. I think we can all agree that every student needs access to those opportunities! Here are my top 10 sensory tools to have available to your students (in no particular order!)

1.) Weighted Lap Pad

Weighted materials can be really relaxing for students who are experiencing dysregulation. A small, 3lb lap pad is a perfect option to offer students!

2.) Yuck-E Medicine Ball

Every special educator knows that sensory tools often don't withstand the love our students offer them :) These Yuck-E Medicine Balls are some of the only sensory tools that seem to really last the realities of a special education classroom! They are a bit of an investment, but they're durable and a great texture for your students to get some needed input.

3.) Calming Bottle

These are great to make in class WITH your students, but it's also nice to have some that are already pre-made! These are great calming, visual distractions for students, and helps them to slow down.

4.) Aquarium Lamp

I had an aquarium lamp gifted to my classroom several years ago (my brother had literally gotten one for the holidays from his boss... another story for another day), and it turned out to be the sensory tool I didn't know I needed! It's calming, safe, it's positively distracting, and it's visually stimulating without being overwhelming - win, win, win.

5.) Theraputty

While playdough is great, Theraputty is my preferred putty/dough for sensory input! It's not super messy (just try to avoid rugs/carpet/fabric chairs!), and each color equates a different level of putty strength. They provide great fine motor practice, too! Your OT will surely thank you, and likely have lots of suggestions for use.

6.) Kick Bands

These are great to add to student desks to offer input for students who need it regularly throughout the day. Don't forget to give extra modeling and teaching for how to use it!

7.) Noise Cancelling Headphones

When students are needing to focus or are feeling overwhelmed by input, having noise cancelling headphones on hand are so meaningful. Be sure to add in norms and expectations regarding when students can and cannot use these to ensure the likelihood of effective use and positive behavior!

8.) Sequin Mermaid Pillows

Pillows are so great to have as sensory tools - students love crashing into them and squeezing them! I especially love having the sequin "mermaid" pillows - students have the extra input of swiping the sequins back and forth for a unique tactile and visual effect.

9.) Expandable Ball

These balls are great for encouraging deep breaths - the balls expand in and out and are great modeling for when you're co-regulating with a student or teaching breathing techniques!

10.) Fidget Cube

I love having fidget cubes for students to keep at their desk or take with them to inclusion classes. They're quiet and small, yet they still provide some needed input for students that really need it to be their best.

I love having choice boards available in the classroom for students that struggle in determining which tools they want to try. It's a great structure to give students the autonomy to make clear and effective choices. What sensory tools would you add to the list?


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