The OT Toolbox

Sensory Diet Activities for the Classroom

In the schools, many teachers struggle with students with sensory processing challenges. There are students who have attention and focus issues that impact learning. Classrooms are a busy place, and when sensory issues impact the ability to pay attention, focus, self-regulate, and interact with others, learning can suffer. Sensory issues are often times, the underlying reasons for impaired functioning in the classroom. For some children, a sensory diet activities for the classroom can help. Sen…


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The Handwriting Book
Parents of children with sensory processing challenges know that the slightest scent can throw kids into a sensory-based meltdown. Children with sensory processing issues can over-respond to fragrances in soaps, detergents, or even lotions when others may not even notice the scents. A child with olfactory sensory processing issues can be overly sensitive to specific products that are used in the home or by others that they frequently are around. Use the fragrance free and dye free products listed below on children with sensory processing disorder or those who are overly sensitive to scents. 


This post describes products that may help children and families who struggle with sensory processing needs. 

It is important to recognize that even others in the same home or classroom who use a scented product can throw off a child with sensitivities to scent. The child with sensory issues can benefit from everyone in the home using  products without perfumes and dyes. It is especially important that the whole family's clothing and bed linens be washed with fragrance-free detergents. 


Sensory kids will appreciate these fragrance-free and dye-free products for sensory sensitivities. Use the fragrance-free lotions, detergents, soaps, and shampoos to help with sensory sensitivities.



Fragrance-Free and Dye-Free Products for Sensory Kids


Interestingly, About 5-16% of children live with sensory processing disorder. That is a lot of children who may suffer from sensory sensitivities. Making small changes within the home may help. 

These fragrance-free and dye-free products can be a modification that is part of a sensory diet for children with sensory processing challenges. 

Some of the fragrance-free products and dye-free products listed below may be trialed in order to determine the perfect fit for the family of a child with sensory processing issues. An individual may have unique sensitivities and may need to try several of the items listed below in order to find the products that work best. 

Even adults with sensory processing issues will appreciate these product recommendations. Each item is dermatologist-approved as a fragrance-free and sensitive item. 

Note: The information included below (and, like everything on this website) is not a substitute for medical intervention, dermatology issues, therapy assessment, intervention, or medical advice. Please contact a physician or Occupational Therapist to assess and intervene. 

Start here by getting access to the sensory processing information you need related to sensitivities and hyper-responsiveness to sensation by downloading the Sensory Processing Disorder Information booklet.


This post contains affiliate links. 


Fragrance-Free Detergents

All Free Clear
Tide Free & Gentle
Dreft
Dreft Stage 2 is better for stain removal.


Fragrance-Free Fabric Softeners

Bounce Free & Clear Fabric Softener
All Free & Clear Fabric Softener


Fragrance-Free Shampoos

Head and Shoulders Original Formula
Free & Clear Shampoo for sensitive skin


Fragrance-Free and Dye-Free Soaps

Dove Unscented for Sensitive Skin
CeraVe Cleanser
Cetaphil Cleanser


Fragrance-Free Moisturizers

Dry skin can make a child who is overly sensitive especially aware of clothing textures. Think about your skin in the winter months when most of the time is spent indoors in dry heat. The skin can become rough and dry. When clothing rubs up against this dry skin, it can be downright painful for the child who is sensitive to clothing textures. Moisturizers can help prevent the dry and cracked skin.

Additionally, for the child who benefits from the proprioceptive input of massages, a moisturizing cream can be a helpful calming tool. Moisturizers should not contain dyes or fragrances. However, trying various moisturizers will be necessary, as some children can be overly sensitive to the different thicknesses of various creams. The dy-free and fragrance free moisturizers listed below are good ones to try:

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Cetaphil Cream
Aveeno Free and Clear Cream
Eucerin Cream
Aquaphor Ointment


Fragrance-Free and Dye-Free Antiperspirants and Deodorants

Deodorants use fragrance to cover up odors of sweat. Antiperspirants utilize aluminum hydroxide without the fragrance of deodorants. Try these fragrance-free antiperspirants and deoderants:
Certain Dri
Dove Unscented
Tom's of Maine Unscented (aluminum free)
JASON 
Silvanapure All Natural Deodorant (aluminum free)


Fragrance-Free Sunblocks

Zinc oxide-based sunblocks do not contain the chemicals of typical sunscreens. Try these sunblocks:
Blue Lizard Baby
Blue Lizard Sensitive Skin
Neutrogena baby Pure and Free


Fragrance-Free Diapers

Most diapers contain a fragrance that is noticeable. Try these diapers free of dyes and fragrances:
Seventh Generation
Tender Care Diapers


Fragrance-Free Wipes

Pampers Sensitive Wipes
Seventh Generation Wipes

Use these fragrance-free products and dye-free products for kids and families with sensory processing issues or sensory sensitivities.
One of the big executive functioning skills is the ability to self-monitor oneself. Self-monitoring plays into one's ability to notice what is happening in the world around us and what is happening in our own body. The ability to "check" oneself and monitor actions, behaviors, and thoughts as they happen play into our ability to problem solve. Use the tips below to help kids learn how to self-monitor and problem solve. These self-monitoring strategies for kids are applicable in the classroom, home, sports field, or in social situations.

Use these self-monitoring strategies for kids to teach kids how to self-monitor their actions and behaviors for better learning, attention, and functional independence.


Self-monitoring is a process of metacognition. Metacognition is the ability to plan for and execute a task, monitor one’s actions, analyze a problem, apply a strategy, maintain attention, and evaluate or monitor completion of an activity. Ideally, metacognition should occur naturally and instinctively as we engage in an activity.

Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids


In talking about self-monitoring skills, let's first discuss what exactly self-monitoring is and what it means for kids to self-monitor their actions, thoughts, and behaviors.

What is self-monitoring?

The ability to self-monitor is made up of two main areas:

1.) Observation- In this stage, a child is able to identify a specific behavior, thought, or action that occurred. This might happen during the action or afterwords. In a child who struggles with talking out in class, they may catch themselves as they are interrupting. Another child may realize they spoke out of turn only after the teacher mentions the interruption. In both cases, the child is able to identify what behavior has occurred through self-assessment. This level of self-monitoring is a real struggle for some students and working on the ability to notice the behaviors or actions that are inefficient or inappropriate for the situation. This stage requires a lot of reflection and the ability to recognize an ideal response or appropriate behavior for a specific situation.

Observation, or self-assessment may require work in order for the child to understand targeted behaviors.
Some supports for self-assessment can include:
Lists of appropriate actions or behaviors
Visual cues
Verbal cues
Reminder notes
Goal setting
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Coaching
Role-playing practice
Self-talk
Modeling from peers

The goal of this stage is to get students to move from a teacher/parent/therapist/adult support of self-assessment to a self-assessment status where the child identifies behaviors and actions that are off-target.

2.) Recording- This stage of self-monitoring is a means for moving from an awareness of actions and behaviors to function. In the recording stage of self-monitoring, children are able to note their actions and make changes based on what happened in specific situations. Jotting down deviences of targeted behavior can help kids to become more aware of what happened in a specific situation and how they can make adjustments in the future to avoid specific behaviors, or how they can use accommodations and self-regulation tools to respond and react more appropriately.

Recording or measurement of actions can occur through several methods:
Checklists
Parent/Teacher/Student communication sheets (where the child inputs behaviors throughout the day)
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Data collection sheets
Frequency collection forms
Self-graphing

A child's ability to stay organized can make a big impact on self-monitoring. Use the organization activities and strategies identified here.

Self-Monitoring in Kids Improve Many Areas:


When children self-monitor their actions and thoughts, so many areas are developed and progressed:
Attention
Behavior
Problem-solving abilities
Hindsight
Foresight
Persistence
Shift

You can see how each of the executive functioning skills play into the ability to self-monitor and how self-monitoring skills play into the development and use of each of the other executive functioning skills.

Teach Self-Monitoring Strategies to Improve Function


There are also functional skills that are developed and improved through self-monitoring:
Learning
Communication
Behavior
Task initiation
Task completion
Social-emotional interaction
Follow-through on learned skills

Self-Monitoring Strategies 


Below, you will find additional self-monitoring strategies that can help children with the ability to identify and self- assess and self-adjust behaviors that may occur within the classroom, home, or other environment. These strategies should be viewed as supports that can be used independently by the child following instruction and input to teach strategy methods.


  • Make an outline for writing tasks, homework assignments, or multi-step assignments in order to keep the child on task.
  • Utilize a self-monitoring schedule- Ask the child to stop and self-check their actions, behaviors, or thoughts to make sure they are on-task.
  • Try an index card or other visual reminder on desks for a list of appropriate behaviors.
  • Use social stories to teach appropriate actions and reactions to specific situations in the home or classroom.
  • Incorporate a schedule of self-regulation strategies to address sensory, attention, and focusing needs. A sensory diet can help with this.
  • Teach the child to check and recheck- Teach children to stop and check and then re-check their behaviors.
  • Teach the child self-talk strategies.
  • Teach students to look at their finished assignment from their teacher's eyes. This can help them have an outside view of completed work or actions in the classroom and adjust as appropriate.
  • Sensory or coping strategies scheduled throughout the day for sensory input or movement breaks.
  • Use a timer for scheduled self-assessment and self-reflection of behaviors or actions and recording of data.
  • Work toward fading self-monitoring visual and physical cues as well as data collection means. 
  • Teach the child to journal experiences. The Impulse Control Journal can be a helpful tool for children who are able to write or dictate to an adult. 

New on The OT Toolbox
Want to access this article as a printable PDF? Use the printable version in education to parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals. Simply print off the printable version and add it to your therapy toolbox.

Note: In order to access this file, you will need to enter your email address. This allows us to send the PDF directly to your email. You will then be added to our subscriber list which receives weekly updates regarding tools for development, new article posts, resources, and more. As a subscriber, you also receive access to The OT Toolbox free printable library. You may unsubscribe from our newsletter subscriber list at any time. Get the printable version of this article on Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids HERE:


This is a 5 page printable self-monitoring strategy outline for educating those who work with kids with self-monitoring skills in kids.

Free self-monitoring strategy guide for kids


References on self-monitoring:

Cook, Kathleen B., "Self-Monitoring Strategies for Improving Classroom Engagement of Secondary Students" (2014). Georgia Association for Positive Behavior Support Conference. 65. https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/gapbs/2014/2014/65

How To: Teach Students to Change Behaviors Through Self-Monitoring. (n.d.). Retrieved February 01, 2018, from http://www.interventioncentral.org/node/961544

Menzies, H. M., Lane, K. L., & Lee, J. M. (winter, 2009). Self-Monitoring Strategies for Use in the Classroom: A Promising Practice to Support Productive Behavior for Students With Emotional or Behavioral Disorders. Beyond Behavior, 27-35. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from https://www.wisconsinpbisnetwork.org/assets/files/flash/ClassroomManagement/ConsequenceSystems/story_content/external_files/SelfMonitoring.pdf.







Thank you for accessing the Self-Monitoring Strategy Guide for Kids. 

 Printable self-monitoring strategy guide for teaching kids self-monitoring skills.


This is a free printable version of our self-monitor strategies for kids article posted here on The OT Toolbox. Use the printable sheets in education or to inform teachers, parents, therapists, or other professionals on strategies that can be used to teach children self-monitoring skills. 

If you arrived at this page by mistake and would like access to this five page printable guide, visit our recent article on self-monitoring strategies for kids and enter your email to gain access to the printable version of the article here

As a thank you and to provide additional resources related to self-monitoring skills and metacognition in kids, check out these tools that may be of help in teaching kids self-monitoring skills:

Easy Ways to Improve Impulse Control

Executive Function Skills Tied to Attention

One Simple Trick to Help Kids Pay Attention

Resources available to address self-monitoring and metacognition in kids: 

Affiliate links are included in this list.

  





This scented scissor skills activity is one that the kids will love! Picking rose petals and then using them to cut is a creative way to address skills like graded scissor use, line awareness, and precision in grasp and scissor accuracy. Kids will love using rose petals to work on scissor accuracy and the visual motor skills needed for scissor use and the scent of rose petals will make it a memorable activity they will want to do again and again! 
Childhood development occurs naturally and at an extremely fast rate. When wondering what is executive function in child development, this breakdown of executive functioning skills development will help explain how children develop in attention, impulsivity, attention, and other executive function skills.


Hi! Thank you for wanting to know more about the upcoming book all about sensory diets! 

The book is ALMOST complete and I'm excited to share more information with you about the book. 

Sensory Diet resource guide book will help therapists, teachers, and parents learn about sensory diets and discover how to create a sensory diet strategy that encourages function in kids with sensory needs.


Here are a few facts and a brief description of the book:

*It took over a year to write the book...it's a comprehensive resource when it comes to setting up a sensory diet!

*The book is in its final stages of completion. Right now, it's off at the designer, who is working her designer magic and making it look amazing!

* This book has everything you need to know about getting started with a sensory diet, including what a sensory diet is, who needs a sensory diet, the various layers of a sensory diet, and much more!

*The book contains tactics to make sensory strategies authentic and meaningful and tips to ensure carryover of sensory diet recommendations. 

*There are a bunch of data collection sheets and resources related to the stages of setting up a sensory diet, monitoring sensory diet strategies, and education related to sensory diets.

*There are strategies for using the components of a sensory diet in developing co-existing developmental areas like fine motor skills, gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, motor planning, Handwriting, etc...the areas that so many sensory kids struggle with!

*There are specific sensory diet strategies that can be incorporated directly into functional tasks in a child’s day such as riding the bus, completing school work, participating in community events, etc.

*This book is a HUGE resource for anyone who lives with, works with, teaches, or loves a child with sensory needs! 

I will have much more information to share very soon...including the title, release date, and a few fun free offers for you just because you signed up to learn more about the book. 

Did you arrive at this article and want to learn more about the book? Sign up at this link on sensory diets in the classroom to join the list of thousands of others who want to learn more about sensory diets and how they can help kids with sensory needs. 

I CAN NOT wait to share more with you!

COMING SOON!! This brand new sensory diet strategy book is coming very soon!

For now, you may be interested in some of the sensory resources available on The OT Toolbox:







There are so many ways to work on handwriting without actually using a pencil. You probably know the face your child makes when you suggest a little handwriting practice. It's a cross between "NO!" and "Why???!!!" Anyone who has worked with a child who struggles with handwriting knows this face. But, what if I told you there were ways to work on the skills needed for handwriting and pencil grasp that don't actually require a pencil?

It's true! Kids can strengthen the fine motor skills and bimanual skills needed for handwriting legibility and written work through activities that develop skills such as fine motor strength, precision, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and even posture and core stability.

Kids with sensory needs can benefit from a themed intervention.  The child that craves sensory input can benefit from a set of sensory activities that are designed around their special interests.  The same holds true for the child who pulls back from sensations.  A set of sensory activities with a special theme can be motivating for the child who avoids specific sensations, positions, or textures.
Mindfulness is an important part of self-regulation and the ability to regulate our senses, feelings, and body. It's a skill that allows us to be aware of our body without responding rashly. In kids, mindfulness is important in the ability to pay attention and responding to input from the world around us, including emotionally and cognitively. The mindfulness for kids YouTube videos listed in this post can be a tool for many skills.

If your house is like mine, you have homemade slime filling containers and plastic baggies everywhere! The slime craze is very much still oozing over here! With all of the slime sitting around, I thought it might be fun to put it to work and use it to work those hand muscles. Here are creative ways to use slime to boost hand strength just by playing with slime. We've previously shared other ways to use slime in fine motor activities, so these hand strength exercises can be used in conjunction for your slime-loving kids!

Fragrance and Dye Free Products for Sensory Kids
Fragrance and Dye Free Products for Sensory Kids

Parents of children with sensory processing challenges know that the slightest scent can throw kids into a sensory-based meltdown. Children with sensory processing issues can over-respond to fragrances in soaps, detergents, or even lotions when others may not even notice the scents. A child with ol…
Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids
Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids

One of the big executive functioning skills is the ability to self-monitor oneself. Self-monitoring plays into one's ability to notice what is happening in the world around us and what is happening in our own body. The ability to "check" oneself and monitor actions, behaviors, and tho…
Thank You for Accessing Self-Monitoring Strategy Guide for Kids
Thank You for Accessing Self-Monitoring Strategy Guide for Kids

Thank you for accessing the Self-Monitoring Strategy Guide for Kids. 



This is a free printable version of our self-monitor strategies for kids article posted here on The OT Toolbox. Use the printable sheets in education or to inform teachers, parents, therapists, or other professionals on strategies…
Scented Scissor Skills Activity
Scented Scissor Skills Activity

This scented scissor skills activity is one that the kids will love! Picking rose petals and then using them to cut is a creative way to address skills like graded scissor use, line awareness, and precision in grasp and scissor accuracy. Kids will love using rose petals to work on scissor accuracy…
What is Executive Function in Child Development
What is Executive Function in Child Development

Childhood development occurs naturally and at an extremely fast rate. When wondering what is executive function in child development, this breakdown of executive functioning skills development will help explain how children develop in attention, impulsivity, attention, and other executive function …
Thank you- Upcoming Sensory Diet Book Info
Thank you- Upcoming Sensory Diet Book Info

Hi! Thank you for wanting to know more about the upcoming book all about sensory diets! 

The book is ALMOST complete and I'm excited to share more information with you about the book. 



Here are a few facts and a brief description of the book:

*It took over a year to write the book...it's a com…
Handwriting Activities that Don't Need a Pencil
Handwriting Activities that Don't Need a Pencil

There are so many ways to work on handwriting without actually using a pencil. You probably know the face your child makes when you suggest a little handwriting practice. It's a cross between "NO!" and "Why???!!!" Anyone who has worked with a child who struggles with handwri…
Train Themed Sensory Ideas
Train Themed Sensory Ideas

Kids with sensory needs can benefit from a themed intervention.  The child that craves sensory input can benefit from a set of sensory activities that are designed around their special interests.  The same holds true for the child who pulls back from sensations.  A set of sensory activities with a …
Mindfulness for Kids YouTube Videos
Mindfulness for Kids YouTube Videos

Mindfulness is an important part of self-regulation and the ability to regulate our senses, feelings, and body. It's a skill that allows us to be aware of our body without responding rashly. In kids, mindfulness is important in the ability to pay attention and responding to input from the world…
Slime Hand Strength Exercises
Slime Hand Strength Exercises

If your house is like mine, you have homemade slime filling containers and plastic baggies everywhere! The slime craze is very much still oozing over here! With all of the slime sitting around, I thought it might be fun to put it to work and use it to work those hand muscles. Here are creative ways…