Sensory Diet Activities for the Classroom | 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. Sensory activities for the classroom can make a big impact in the life of a student.

The information listed below includes effective strategies for helping kids who are distracted, inattentive, disorganized, irritable, sensitive to sensory input, or seeming to have other sensory-related behaviors.

Add these resources to the ones you can find here under sensory diet vestibular activities to meet the sensory needs of all kids.



Use these sensory diet activities for the classroom to help kids with sensory processing needs and to address areas like attention, focus, self-regulation and other areas that impact learning.

First, I am very excited to tell you about a NEW resource book that I've been working on behind the scenes. It's a HUGE resource related to sensory diets. 

There is so much information packed into this book, including underlying information related to the sensory systems, detailed information and references related to sensory diets like what they are and who needs one.  

There are data collection sheets and strategy monitoring systems for ensuring sensory diet techniques are authentic and motivating. 

This book is coming very soon! If you would like to be among the first to know about this new book, join the list here. Annnnd, there just may be a few freebies in store for anyone who is among the first to be informed! 



For some students, a selection of sensory activities can be a helpful strategy for getting through the day. The students who receive therapy may be completing a sensory diet with specific activities based on the individual child's needs.

Therapists can use the sensory diet activities listed below to add to their toolbox of strategies within the school environment.

NOTE: Activities described here should be used educational information and not as treatment suggestions. Every child's specific needs and strengths are individual and before activities are utilized as interventions, individualized assessment should be performed by an occupational therapist.


Sensory Diet Activities for the Classroom

You can find many sensory strategies for the school based OT to use and provide in the classroom.

Additionally, therapists and teachers will find many resources, including a printable sensory activity sheet here on this article about calm down strategies for school.

Finally, here is information about using sensory diets in the school. You can see this informative video on our Facebook page, or in the video below:

Sensory diet activities in the classroom are extremely varied! Each child will crave or avoid different sensory input that naturally occurs in the classroom. Sensory diet activities can be integrated into the school environment using materials right in the classroom. Try some of these sensory diet activities:

Move classroom furniture at the beginning or end of the day.
Erase the Smart Board using a cloth.
Add moveable or alternative seating options into the classroom (chair cushions, standing at easels, bungee cord added to the chair legs, bean bags, lying prone on the floor, etc.)
Carry library books from the classroom to the library.
Move equipment from classroom to classroom.
Give the student a "job" to carry a box of materials to the office each day.
Allow the student to sharpen pencils using a manual pencil sharpener.
Add extra playground time into the schedule as a reward.
Provide movement breaks for the whole classroom.


Add calming sensory strategies to a sensory diet for the classroom:

Provide a warm blanket for cozy reading in a bean bag chair.
Create a calm-down space in a cardboard box.
Create a whole-classroom stretch break with yoga or rhythmical knee/shoulder patting and rocking. 
Ask the whole classroom to play "Simon Says" with face and mouth stretch exercises.
Allow wall push-ups and chair push-up breaks.
Encourage the child to blow bubbles at recess.

Add calming modifications to the classroom:

Turn down the lights for a calm-down break.
Seat the child away from high-traffic areas.
Use soft voices during classroom instruction.
Remove fluorescent light bulbs from the area above the student's desk.
Allow the child to wear headphones to block out environmental sounds.
Minimize overwhelming visual environmental stimuli by using natural light.

Add alerting sensory strategies to a sensory diet for the classroom:

Play "Simon Says" with light touch to the face and palms.
Movement breaks with jumping jacks or burpees (if the space allows).
Show students how to briskly rub up and down the arms to "wake up" the arms and hands.
Provide classroom-friendly fidget tools such as a DIY pencil topper

Add alerting modifications to the classroom:

Have crunchy snacks available: dry cereal, pretzels, celery, raw carrots, etc.
Use modified writing utensils such as modified surfaces or writing utensils.
Provide visually stimulating writing paper with high-contrast lines or writing spaces.

Use these sensory strategies in the classroom for students who struggle with sensory processing or those who may experience sensory-related behaviors.



You may also be interested in the free printable packet, The Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit.

The Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit is a printable packet of resources and handouts that can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists. Whether you are looking for a handout to explain sensory strategies, or a tool for advocating for your child, the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit has got you covered.


And it’s free for you to print off and use again and again.


In the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit, you’ll find:


  • Fidgeting Tools for the Classroom
  • Adapted Seating Strategies for the Classroom
  • Self-Regulation in the Classroom
  • 105 Calm-down Strategies for the Classroom
  • Chewing Tools for Classroom Needs
  • 45 Organizing Tools for Classroom Needs
  • Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Cards

Sensory Strategies for the Classroom