Have you ever heard the term “sensory break” and weren’t quite sure what that meant? Or maybe you are more like me and you have run out of idea and need more sensory break ideas. You have come to the right place!
Thank you Dayna for having me today. Sensory activities are one of my favorite things to write about and also do with my daughter. And with my background as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, sensory activities are something I used constantly with my kids in the school system. Today I wanted to share with you some different sensory break ideas that are great for kids of any age.
What is a sensory break?
A sensory break or “brain break” is a fancy word for just taking a regular old break from seated learning activities or sedentary activities. For children with sensory needs, this is often referred to as a sensory diet or sensory break. It is a time for them to gain the sensory input they need in their bodies to stay alert, on task, and focused.
Each of us has our own way in which we modulate or control our sensory systems. A person who is able to modulate well is someone who notices the sensory stimuli coming in, filters out unimportant information and their emotions and behaviors reflect appropriate responses to the situation or environment.
For children or adults with modulation disorders such as ADD/ADHD, Sensory processing disorder, or Autism etc. they have difficulty regulating the sensory input they are receiving. Which is why sensory breaks are SO important for them.
Why are sensory breaks important?
Sensory breaks are a way for any child, whether they have sensory needs or not, to reset, decompress, and get the blood flowing back into their brains. We all know that children learn best through movement and exploring with their hands. Giving them breaks throughout their day lets their brains take a rest and reset, but they are also still learning vital life skills in these sensory breaks.
How often should you do a sensory break?
It has been suggested that children ages 3-9 need a break every 15 minutes. Also children younger than 3 can really not be expected to focus for much longer than 5-10 minutes, and some much less than that. Children in fourth grade and above it is suggested to have a break every 45 minutes.
Realistically this may not always be the case. So if you can at least get a break in every 1-2 hours, that is ideal. Breaks can last anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
And adults, don’t forget to add yourself in here as well. You also need to give yourself a sensory break throughout the day. I was recently at a continuing education course and I absolutely loved that the Occupational Therapist giving the presentation gave us 15-20 minute breaks every hour to hour and a half. It was great for me to be able to focus and soak in all the information we were learning about.
40 Simple Sensory Brain Break Ideas
- Jumping Jacks
- Jumping on a mini trampoline or large outdoor trampoline
- Heavy work activities
- Crawling through tunnels or under objects
- Wall or chair Pushes
- Animal Crawls (can you crawl like a bear? crab? frogs? seals?)
- Ball Pass (Stand back to back and pass a ball by turning to the side in one direction, than reverse)
- Ball Pits (make your own by filling up a small swimming pool with balls)
- Reading in a bean bag chair
- Climbing trees or on a jungle gym
- Use fidget toys (such as the Wacky Tracks Hand Fidget, Wood Fidget Puzzle, DoGo Putty, Tangle Therapy Hand Fidget)
- Chewing toys or tools such a Chewable Jewelry (suggested Chewable Jewelry Options here OR Chewable Desk Buddy)
- Crashing mat
- Play with a parachute
- Popcorn jumps (jumping from a squat position and then landing back in a squat position)
- Wheelbarrow walking
- Obstacle course
- Passing weighted balls back and forth
- Scooter board activities
- Resistance bands
- Bouncing on a therapy or exercise ball
- Listening to upbeat OR calming music
- Going outside for a walk or hike
- Jumping jacks
- Bean bag squeezes
- Drinking water through a water bottle with a Bite Valve
- Chewing gum (all natural chewing gum option)
- Using a weighted blanket or vest
- Lifting light weights
- Yoga moves
- Tummy Time
- Headphones to block out unnecessary noise
- Roller blade or skating
- Visit the playground
To get your printable copy of this list, click the graphic/link below. Sensory breaks for kids
For more reading information on this topic visit:
Alerting, Calming and Organizing Activities for Kids
15 Brain Break Exercises for Kids (and video)
10 Brain Break Activities for Kids
Everyone Needs Brain Breaks
100 Sensory Ideas for Kids
30 Quick One Minute Sensory Breaks for Kids
Heather Greutman is a homeschool graduate turned homeschool mom blogger. She worked as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in the public school system before becoming a stay a home mom to her daughter and soon to be born son. She writes at Golden Reflections Blog about Christian Montessori inspired homeschool with an Occupational Therapy twist. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+.
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