Sensory Strategies for the School Based OT

For the child with sensory challenges, the classroom can be an overwhelming place.  All of the sensory systems are touched on in the classroom.  When sensory systems are challenged, learning is a struggle.  School based OTs are often times consulted when students struggle with physical or sensory issues that result in educational deficits.  

Previously, The OT Toolbox has shared free ways to incorporate sensory motor experiences into the classroom.   You might be looking for more resources that can be used to address many sensory needs in the classroom.  Below are sensory resources for the school based occupational therapist and strategies that can be incorporated into OT in the school. 

These are strategies to fill your therapy toolbox and address everything from inattention to sensory meltdowns.

School-based OTs can utilize this resource of sensory strategies for school based OT and occupational therapy intervention in schools.
These tong activities would be a great addition to summer occupational therapy activities and home programs!

Sensory Resources for the School Based OT

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This is a great article written on sensory integration practices in the school setting.  It includes the clinical reasoning and practices that go along with sensory practice in the school.  Of interest are sensory screening and evaluation recommendations for school settings, sensory intervention and treatment delivery options, and recommendations.  Also included is a table with approaches and sensory strategies for Occupational Therapy intervention in the classroom or school setting.  Case studies include IEP goal ideas related to sensory processing interventions.

Assessments for sensory needs can include direct observation of the child’s performance in the school setting.  Observing a variety of tasks during the school day can be helpful to analyze the demands of specific activities, including needs and strengths in tool use, fatigue, sequencing, spatial concepts, social interactions, physical requirements, cognitive abilities, etc.  A child transitions through a variety of settings during a school day and is challenged in various environments which might present differing needs or abilities.  The school-based OT should assess a student’s sensory and neuromuscular functioning in these various environments.  

Many students who struggle with sensory challenges benefit from a sensory diet during the school day.  This specialized diet of sensory activities and input should be designed by an occupational therapist who assesses and identifies the student’s particular needs and strengths or interests.  Sensory diets in the school can include many different tools, not limited to fidget tools, specialized seating, movement breaks, weighted lap pads or vests, calming scents, limited or structured visual adjustments, chewing tools, or other activities.  Read more about the goals of a sensory diet

Use this free Sensory Processing Disorder booklet for passing on sensory processing information to parents and teachers. 

Fidgeting Tools for the Classroom

Fidgeting with items can help with attention, regulation, and focus.  Try these fidgeting options in the classroom:

Adapted Seating in the Classroom

Adapted seating can be a sensory strategy that helps with fidgeting as well.  Sensory needs can overflow to wiggling, poor posture, slouching, and decreased focus.  An altered seating system is sometimes used to address a weak core strength and resulting inefficient posture as well.  Try these sensory-based seating ideas:

  • Cheap Alternative Seating Option
  • Movement seats like a disk cushion are great for allowing movement for improved attention.
  • Wobble Seat uses the idea of a therapy or stability ball in the form of a stool.  This is great for classroom use because the giant therapy balls tend to roll away from desks.
  • This Guide to Alternate Seating is a resource that can benefit many individuals in the school, including teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and school-based therapists. 
  • Special cushions
  • Bean bags
  • Intertubes
  • Therapy balls
  • Wedge seats
  • Support added to the seat
  • Etc.

Self-Regulation in the Classroom

For the child who struggles with sensory processing disorder or is challenged with impaired responsiveness, interventions in regulation can be used in the classroom:


Sensory-Based Interventions for the School Based OT

Here on The OT Toolbox site, we have a huge collection of sensory-based play and sensory experiences that meet various needs.  Find all of the sensory activities here and how these experiences can address discrimination needs, improve participation, and address sensory modulation. 

Sensory Integration Approach to School Based OT

A sensory integrative approach is based on the work of A. Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR, and identified as Ayres Sensory Integration.  For school-based practice, sensory integration and praxis needs are addressed by assessment and interventions occurring in natural sensory-rich spaces.   A sensory integration approach utilizes interactions between the OT and the student in a sensory-rich environment in a playful approach that allows for adaptation to novel challenges addressing reactivity, postural skills, praxis, and perceptual skills.  
Read more about sensory-based interventions and sensory integration approaches to school based OT and how these approaches look in meeting needs of students here.

Chewing Tools for Classroom Sensory Needs

  • Pencil Topper Chews come in a variety of textures and toughness to meet sensory needs.
  • Chewable jewelry  is often times appropriate for the classroom, because the variety of necklace or bracelet styles on the market are discreet while meeting sensory needs. 
  • Here is information on how to choose the right chew tool for addressing sensory needs.

Push In or Pull Out OT Services in the School

Sensory needs can be addressed by strategies from the school based OT both in and out of the classroom.  For the child who receives occupational therapy services at school, therapy can occur in any aspect of the child’s day where needs are limiting educational abilities.  
OT services completed with a “push in” model allow the therapist to identify needs in the classroom. Therapists can then intervene, and provide adaptations, modifications, and tools during classroom activities.  Consultation with teachers and professionals can occur right in the classroom during daily tasks and in a natural setting.  Sensory strategies can easily be a collaborative nature with teachers and paraprofessionals when performed right in the classroom and in the natural environment of the child’s day.  
Therapy being competed in a “pull out” model can address sensory diet needs and development that is then utilized throughout and within the student’s daily activities at school.  Specific skill assessment and development can occur in pull out services.  
Occupational Therapy for Children and Youth Using Sensory Integration Theory and Methods in School-Based Practice. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(Supplement_3):6913410040p1-6913410040p20. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.696S04.
School-based OTs can utilize this resource of sensory strategies for school based OT and occupational therapy intervention in schools.


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

Free Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

    December Sensory Processing Activities

    These December Sensory Processing Activities are designed to provide sensory opportunities, Christmas themed sensory prompts, accommodations to holiday activities, and sensory challenges with a Christmas and winter theme.  For more Christmas themed developmental activities for Occupational Therapists, parents, and teachers, grab try this free Christmas Occupational Therapy activities printable calendar.

    December Sensory Processing Activities
    December is a time of holiday fun,
    hustle, and bustle.  Families have added
    activities, winter parties, and distant family to visit.  This time of year brings with it unusual holiday
    songs and bells, lights, different foods to smell and taste, and crowded
    stores.  For the child with sensory processing concerns, it can be a very difficult time.  

    The holiday rush brings with it, added and unusual sounds, sights, smells, visitors, scratchy holiday sweaters, and schedule changes. The holiday season can be downright debilitating for the child with sensory challenges. 
    The time leading up to Christmas
    can be a month-long time of sensory overload for children with sensory
    issues.  It can be confusing for sensory
    systems!  The overwhelming feelings of
    sensory uncertainty can add a whole new meaning to holiday stress.  This time of year, when even the most intentional
    parents and teachers can still cause over-stimulation or under-stimulation to
    the child who is already struggling with sensory issues. 
    There can be a need for additional calming
    sensory input or changes to sensory diet, additional modifications, and added
    sensory down-time.  

    When it comes to preparing for the holidays and all the adjustments it brings, a plan can help. An understanding of the sensory system and how the senses are processed can help parents, teachers, and caregivers to cope with the added sensory stress for children with sensory issues.

    Having a kit of ideas and coping strategies can be a helpful tool to prepare the child with sensory processing difficulties for the holiday season. 

    A list of sensory activities that can be added to the day…WITH a holiday theme can make all the difference in creating a holiday that the whole family will remember, all while keeping the sensory systems in mind. 

    Below, you’ll see a packet of sensory activities that has been on this site for a little over two years. This packet of Christmas Sensory Activities are bound to help families of those with sensory processing challenges to thrive this holiday season. 

    There are coping strategies for dealing with all of the added and new sensory input. 

    There are activity challenges that hit on the big sensory systems, allowing for calming or stimulating sensory input with a Christmas theme. 

    There are Christmas and holiday themed activities that can be incorporated into an established or new sensory diet, making a valuable tool for the child who is overwhelmed or underwhelmed by all that the holidays bring.

    Read more about what’s included in the Christmas Sensory Processing Activity Packet…

    Included in the Christmas Sensory Processing Activity Packet:

    • Each of the sensory systems are addressed in the 31 sensory activities.

    • There is a detailed description of the sensory system and sensory processing included in this packet.

    • Information is included on sensory diets and how they are needed during the holiday season. Sensory activities with a holiday theme can be added to sensory diets depending on individual sensory needs. 
    • Sensory challenges and modifications that can be added into daily routines this time of year.

    • A comprehensive list of sensory coping strategies is included for handling holiday stress and over- or under-responsiveness related to holiday travel, holiday visitors, and changes in routines over the Christmas season.

    ON SALE for 25% OFF NOVEMBER 24-27, 2017! Just click the link to access the reduced price of $3.75!

    Add these activities to your
    therapy plans this month.  The activity list
    is perfect for passing on to parents as a home program.  Parents and teachers can use these activities
    as part of an individualized plan that meets the child’s needs. 
    The activities are
    outlined in an easy to follow therapy plan, however as parents and therapists
    know, a day that involves children does not always go as planned.  The activities can be shifted around to suit
    the needs of the child and the family.  

    Does this sound like a resource that might help your client, child, or student? If the holidays make you want to curl up in a blanket because of the added stress and sensory challenges, this might just be the tool for you and your family! 

    Fall Leaf Auditory Processing Activities

    These Fall Leaf Auditory Processing Activities are great for addressing listening skills in kids with or without auditory processing difficulties.  Try these creative ideas at home or in the school yard to easily strengthen auditory abilities for better learning. Perfect for children of all ages and developmental levels, it’s a Fall themed activity that will help kids learn to listen to details!

    Fall Auditory Processing Activities

    Listening isn’t easy for everyone.  For children with auditory processing disorders, learning is difficult. Imagine identifying and localizing sounds in a classroom that is filled with chattering children, scooting chair legs, pencils scratching on paper, and moving, sound-making children.  The process of localizing sounds, recognizing sound patterns, discriminating between different letter sounds, and interpreting auditory information can be less than optimal for the child with difficulty processing the sound information that is coming in. 

    Try these listening activities using Fall’s leaves in a backyard auditory processing activity!

    Try these activities to help kids who are auditory learners

    Finally, be sure to check out this resource on auditory sensitivities that impact learning.

    Fall Leaf themed auditory processing activities for sensory needs in kids.


    Auditory Processing Activities Using Fall Leaves

    This post contains affiliate links.

    When there are auditory processing difficulties present, a child may tend to have the following problems that interfere with learning:


    • Poor direction following
    • Appear confused
    • Distractibility
    • Short attention spans
    • Sensitive to loud sounds
    • Inconsistently aware of sounds
    • Poor listeners

    To build and strengthen auditory skills, try using leaves this Fall.  The crunchy, dry leaves that cover the ground are nature’s sensory tool when it comes to auditory processing needs.  

    We first talked about the fall leaves that are covering our lawn and read through this month’s Virtual Book Club for Kids book, (affiliate link) Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  We talked about how the leaves of fall are all different colors, shapes, and sizes but have one thing in common: a great crunch when they are dry!

    To do these sensory Fall Leaf Auditory Processing activity, you’ll need a bunch of leaves that have fallen from trees.  Dry leaves will work best, so if the leaves are newly fallen, you will want to gather leaves up in advance.  Let them dry indoors for several hours or overnight to get a great “crunch”.

    Next, spread out the leaves in a big bin.  An under the bed storage bin works great for this activity.

    Show your child how to squeeze and crumble the leaves using their hands.  Ask them to listen to the crunch of the leaves.  Notice how the leaves crumble and give off a satisfying noise as they are shifted around in the bin.  

    Fall Leaf themed auditory processing activities for sensory needs in kids.


    Use the dry leaves to address auditory sensory needs:




    1. Where is that leaf? Ask the child to sit in front of the bin (or if you are outside, sit in front of the adult.  Ask the child to close their eyes.  Using one hand to crunch leaves, ask the child to say or point to the side that the leaf crunch is coming from.  Add a high/low and front/back component by moving around to crumble the leaves, too.
    2. Leaf Pattern- Ask your child to gather a bunch of dry leaves.  Using a pile of leaves of your own, complete a crunching pattern as you crumble leaves at different speeds and in each hand.  The child can then repeat the pattern.
    3. Sound Stop- Crumble and crunch the leaves.  At intervals, stop crunching leaves and wait for a moment. Ask the child to say “Now!” when the leaves stop crumbling.
    4. Falling Leaf Sounds- With the child’s eyes closed, crumble leaves high and low above and below the child.  Ask the child to determine if the leaves are above them or below them as they determine the location of the sound.
    5. Lots of Sound Leaves- Add other sounds to the background noise: talking, music, rattle toys, birds chirping, etc.  Ask the child to determine when the sound of crunching leaves stop.  You can also add a localization dimension to this activity to work on auditory figure ground awareness.
    Kids can complete these activities on a one-on-one basis or in a group setting.  For kids with sensory issues, or those that are sensitive to crumbling leaves, try using gardening gloves while crumbling.

    How would you use Fall’s leaves in a sensory or auditory processing activity?

    Fall Leaf themed auditory processing activities for sensory needs in kids.


    Visit our auditory processing activities page for more creative ways to address auditory needs.

    Address sensory needs while experiencing all that the Fall season has to offer! Grab your free copy of the Fall Sensory Experiences Booklet to create sensory diet activities that meet the needs of individuals in a Fall-themed way!

    Get our Fall Sensory Activities Guide

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      Back to School Sensory Activities August OT Calendar

      Heading back into the school year can throw some kids for a spin.  The first few weeks can be a change in routine from the safety of home.  For kids who are starting up on a homeschool routine, it can be difficult to pay attention when sensory needs and distractions are in the next room. 

      Sometimes, all it takes for an easy transition into the back to school days is a sensory strategy that meets the needs of the sensory child.  

      Classroom sensory activities and sensory strategies for back to school or throughout the school year.

      These sensory activities are ones that can easily be used in the classroom or homeschool room.  They are strategies that can be incorporated into the student’s daily routine within the school environment.  These activities are presented in calendar form for ease and planning, but they can be used in a classroom sensory diet or in various strategies.  The ideas below are ones that easily allow the child to meet their sensory needs in a natural way, so that it is not an interruption to the classroom or other students.  Rather, some of these sensory strategies are movement and heavy work-based ideas that can easily be adapted for the whole classroom for brain break type of activities. 

      As always, these sensory ideas are ONLY ideas and should be regarded as a reference.  Every child is different and has different sensory needs.  The ideas presented below are not regarded as Occupational Therapy treatment and should only be used in addition to and along with an individualized Occupational Therapy plan made following assessment. 

      sensory activities and strategies for the classroom, perfect for back to school in the classroom or homeschool routine.

      Sensory Activities for Back to School and Classroom Sensory Strategies

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      1. Wall Push-Ups- Show the student how to push against the wall while doing “push-ups” from a standing position.  This is a great “brain break” activity that provides proprioceptive input for heavy work for improved focus, calming, and self-regulation.

      2. Desk Fidget- Use a DIY fidget or a store bought hand fidget toy to allow the child tactile sensory or proprioceptive input to the hands for improved attention and focus while sitting and performing desk work.

      3. Chair Push-Ups- Allow the child to push up from the seat with his arms, keeping the elbows strait.  Pushing up through the arms provides proprioceptive heavy work through the upper body.

      4. Move desk/furniture.

      5. Erase the chalkboard or dry erase board.

      6. Carry milk crates or plastic bins full of books or supplies from center to center around the classroom or from room to room in the building.  

      7. Shoe laces fidget-  Add a couple of beads to the child’s shoe laces for a fidget toy that can be used discretely while sitting in floor circle time or during desk work.

      8. Manual Pencil Sharpener-  Turning and sharpening pencils with a manual pencil sharpener provides proprioception to bilateral upper extremities.  This can be a good task prior to writing tasks.

      9. Backpack for carrying supplies from room to room-  Students can carry supplies to other classrooms in a backpack for heavy input.  This can be a calming strategy while walking the hallways to other areas in the school as well, such as while walking to the lunch room or special classes.  The hallway can be an overwhelming and high-sensory environment so deep pressure to center the child can be helpful.

      10. Staple paper or remove staples from a bulletin board for upper body proprioceptive input.

      11. Air cushion seating such as a wiggle seat cushion or a frugal, DIY version using a $1 wiggle seat cushion option.

      12. Place chairs on rugs.  Sliding chairs on classroom floors can lead to auditory overload for some sensory kids.  Try using carpet squares under each individual chair.  When the child pushes his chair out, he can slide the chair right on the carpet square out from the desk.  

      13. Hallway March-  Get the whole class involved in a “walk this way” activity.  They can march from the classroom to specials or the lunchroom.  Try other brain break and whole body movements while walking in the line down the hallway, too: Try high knee lifts, toe walking, heel walking, elbows to knees, and patting the knees while walking.

      14. Sports bottles for drinking- Sipping water through a long straw or sports bottle can allow the students to focus and attend given proprioceptive input through the mouth.  This is a great whole classroom strategy for helping with attention and self-regulation.

      15. Movement breaks in the gym or classroom- A quick brain break can help kids focus during periods of desk work.

      16. Push mats in the gym- Moving those big gym mats is a great whole body proprioception activity.

      17. Headphones for limiting auditory stimulation during center work or times when there is a lot of chatter in the classroom.

      18. Visual picture list- A visual schedule can be a benefit for the whole classroom.  Try this daily pocket chart schedule

      19. Simon Says Spelling-  Try practicing spelling words with a movement and vestibular sensory input Simon Says version.

      20. Play dough math for proprioceptive input through the hands.  Try a math smash type of activity and use a heavy resistive dough like this DIY proprioception dough

      21. Use a kneaded pencil eraser for a hand-held fidget that doubles as an eraser with proprioceptive input.

      22. Crunchy snack break- Try snacks like pretzels, crackers, kale chips, popcorn, or roasted chickpeas for an alerting snack.

      23.  Sensory bin for math or sight words-  Add tactile sensory input to learning using a variety of sensory bin fillers.  Ideas include shaving cream, shredded paper, crafting pom poms, among many other ideas.

      24. Vibrating pen rainbow writing for sight word or spelling practice-  Proprioceptive input to the hands can be very helpful for many kids, especially if they are writing with too much pencil pressure.

      25. Jump/move/hop in hallway- Take a movement and brain break with a hallway movement activity.  Add learning aspect with spelling, facts, or math.

      26. Roll a ball between the legs-  Add a vestibular aspect to vocabulary or themed learning, including history, English language arts, or science.  Kids can answer questions and when they answer the question, they roll the ball between their legs by bending down.

      27. Hopscotch Math-  Add a hopping proprioception activity to the classroom with a hopscotch board created right in the classroom using masking tape.

      28.  Graph Paper Writing-  Add a visual sensory twist to handwriting, math, spelling, or any written work by using graph paper.  The added lines can be just the visual spatial prompt needed for kids with visual sensory processing concerns.

      29. Make a desk sensory diet box-  Use a dollar store pencil case to create customized sensory diet bins that can fit right into the desk. Items would be used specific to the child’s needs, but might include resistive putty, paper clips for fidgeting, or movable toys.

      30. Wash desks with spray bottles.

      31. Cut classroom decorations from oaktag.

      sensory activities and strategies for the classroom, perfect for back to school in the classroom or homeschool routine.

      back to school sensory ideas and strategies for the classroom that teachers can use with sensory kids.

      Music Rainbow Xylophone and Music Craft

      Have a couple of drink containers or recycled plastic bottles in the recycle bin> Here is one easy way to use plastic water bottles to make a color xylophone with the kids. 

      Make a music heart bookmark craft and enjoy a great book along with a Share a Coke and a Song!

      Music Bookmark Craft

      Music note bookmark craft


      Music note bookmark craft

      You’ll need just a few materials to make this music bookmark craft:
      One sheet of music (We have several books found at a yard sale.  We used one sheet for this craft.)
      Red card stock, cut into heart shapes

      Music note bookmark craft

      To make the music bookmarks:
      Cut the sheet music along the space between each staff.  You’ll end up with several strips of music notes.  Cut the red card stock into heart shapes.  Glue the hearts to one end of the music strips.  As easy as that, your music bookmarks are done!

      Music note bookmark craft
      Kids love this rainbow water xylophone using recycled bottles to make music.

      Water Xylophone

      If you follow this blog, then you know that we love to use recycled materials in play and crafts. After our bottles of Coca-Cola were empty, we decided to make our own songs with a DIY water xylophone!

      To make a water xylophone using recycled plastic bottles:
      This was SUCH a huge hit with my kids.  We filled the plastic bottles with varying amounts of water. We used all six bottles from the six pack of plastic Coke bottles and added liquid food coloring to the bottles.  Each bottle held a different color of the rainbow to make a rainbow water xylophone.

      Kids love this rainbow water xylophone using recycled bottles to make music.

      I showed my kids how to blow across the top of the opening of the bottles to make a musical sound.  It was fun to see my kids’ expressions as they realized they could make a sound on the opening of the bottles.  Even better was watching them make a little tune with the xylophone!  This is one activity that they will remember for a long time to come.  

      This is a great activity for addressing oral sensory needs.  Check out some of our favorite ways to provide sensory input through oral motor exercises for sensory calming sensory input here and here.

      Kids love this rainbow water xylophone using recycled bottles to make music.

      A water xylophone would be the perfect addition to a summer bucket list!  Take this idea outside to create memories with your kids!  Just like music invokes memories, making music with this water xylophone will be the hit of the summer break.

      Kids love this rainbow water xylophone using recycled bottles to make music.

      Calming Nature Sensory Bottle

      We love to share creative ideas for sensory bottles.  They are an easy way to explore the senses with so many different themes.  This month’s sensory bottle is Nature themed and it’s a calming sensory tool that kids will love.  We made our calming nature sensory bottle with items we had in our backyard but this idea could be adapted to include so many different nature-made materials.  

      Try this calming nature sensory bottle for proprioceptive and auditory sensory input using nature items from your own backyard! Kids will love to help make it while working on fine motor skills.

      Calming Nature Sensory Bottle

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      Usually, our sensory bottles are made with recycled bottles.  Some of our favorites were made with spice containers, peanut butter jars, and even popcorn containers.  This sensory bottle is a little bit different because it has a handle, making it perfect for calming proprioceptive input.  We had ours in the house, but you can grab a similar container here.  

      Try this calming nature sensory bottle for proprioceptive and auditory sensory input using nature items from your own backyard! Kids will love to help make it while working on fine motor skills.

      Inside the paint can party favor container, we added small pebbles and sticks from our backyard.  I broke sticks into various sizes and had my Toddler drop them into the container.  She loved this activity so much that we’ll be doing this easy eye-hand coordination activity again.  The tin bottom made a satisfying “clink” sound when she added the sticks and the stones.  Once our nature sensory bottle was full of nature, we popped the lid on and it was done!

      Try this calming nature sensory bottle for proprioceptive and auditory sensory input using nature items from your own backyard! Kids will love to help make it while working on fine motor skills.

      Calming Sensory Bottle Idea 

      Try this calming nature sensory bottle for proprioceptive and auditory sensory input using nature items from your own backyard! Kids will love to help make it while working on fine motor skills.

      This was such a simple way to create a proprioception sensory tool.  My kids could haul the sensory bottle around, using a hook grasp to hold the handle.  The weight of the sensory bottle adds proprioception input through the carrying arm.  This was a fun sensory bottle to turn over and over again as we watched the small pebbles roll and drop down between the sticks.  The metal bottom of the container added auditory input.  Watching those pebbles fall was very relaxing and mesmerizing!

      Try this calming nature sensory bottle for proprioceptive and auditory sensory input using nature items from your own backyard! Kids will love to help make it while working on fine motor skills.

      Looking for more nature themed sensory bottles?  Try some of these:

      Desert Flower Discovery Bottle | Preschool Inspirations
      Simple Spring Nature Sensory Bottles | Lemon Lime Adventures
      Sea Shells Sensory Bottle | Rhythms of Play

      Citrus Themed Nature Discovery Bottle | Where Imagination Grows

      Try this calming nature sensory bottle for proprioceptive and auditory sensory input using nature items from your own backyard! Kids will love to help make it while working on fine motor skills.
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      Musical Bell Color Matching Dominoes

      These DIY dominoes are a great tool for addressing auditory processing needs!

      When I saw the theme for this week’s Learning with Manipulatives series was dominoes, I was excited.  My kids love playing with dominoes!  They love dominoes of all kinds, from craft stick dominoes to our math sensory bottle that had slowly sinking dominoes.  I had a few different learning activities in mind…but then I couldn’t find our dominoes!  Not to worry, I threw together these DIY bell dominoes that were perfect for color matching with an auditory processing twist. 

      Auditory processing dominoes made with bells are perfect for a color matching activity, and can be graded to meet the auditory needs of all ages.

      DIY Bell Dominoes

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      Auditory processing dominoes made with bells are perfect for a color matching activity, and can be graded to meet the auditory needs of all ages.

      To make these bell dominoes, you need just three items:
      Corrugated cardboard
      Pipe Cleaners
      Bells (Ours were from

      You’ll also need scissors and a black marker.

      Auditory processing dominoes made with bells are perfect for a color matching activity, and can be graded to meet the auditory needs of all ages.


      Cut rectangles from the sheet of corrugated cardboard.  Using the wire in the pipe cleaner, poke a hole in one end of the rectangle.  Thread the bell onto the pipe cleaner.  Bend the pipe cleaner over and poke it through the cardboard again.  Gently twist the ends of the pipe cleaner together and snip the long end of the pipe cleaner.  Repeat on the other end of the domino.  

      I used random colored bells to create dominoes that were perfect for color matching.  My preschooler loved this game and we played several rounds, just working on color matching.

      Auditory processing dominoes made with bells are perfect for a color matching activity, and can be graded to meet the auditory needs of all ages.

      Auditory Processing Activity with Bell Dominoes

      Many children demonstrate auditory processing difficulties.  Difficulties with processing the sounds around them, in classrooms, and in conversation can present in many different ways. I came up with simple ways to use these DIY dominoes to address auditory processing problems in fun and game-like ways.

      Auditory processing dominoes made with bells are perfect for a color matching activity, and can be graded to meet the auditory needs of all ages.
      Auditory Processing Listening Activities
      • Play the bell dominoes game and ask your child to close their eyes when it is not their turn. They need to listen for the sound of the bells and tell with it is their turn by saying when the bells have stopped. Listening for the bells’ sounds addresses auditory attending.
      • Play from further distances by having the child cross the room after they’ve taken their turn.  They need to listen to hear when the bell has stopped before coming back to take their turn. This addresses auditory attending and auditory discrimination.
      • Play with various background noises.
      • When playing, take turns tapping out patterns before placing the domino in it’s place in the game.
      • Grade these games by rolling a dice and assigning a number on the dice with a colored bell.
      Auditory processing dominoes made with bells are perfect for a color matching activity, and can be graded to meet the auditory needs of all ages.
      Want to see more ways to play and learn with dominoes?  Try these:


      Robot Domino Math Game from Learning 2 Walk
      Domino Addition Game from The Kindergarten Connection
      Name Recognition with Dominoes from Line Upon Line Learning
      Dominoes Sensory Bin from Something 2 Offer


      You’ll love these domino activities that we did:

      DIY Rhythm Sticks and Activities

      Rhythm and learning go hand in hand.  The beat of a tune and repetition of sounds make learning the alphabet and songs fun from a very young age.  We made these miniature DIY Rhythm Sticks using craft sticks for a fun beat activity with a little preschool aged learning.

      DIY rhythm sticks and activities for preschool aged kids

      DIY Rhythm Sticks for Preschool Kids:

      We used just a few materials for this project.  Wooden craft sticks and embroidery thread that we received from our friends at were all that we used.  You can find the colorful thread for purchase here.  

      To make the miniature rhythm sticks, simply wrap the thread around the craft sticks.  We made a few sets; some in patterns, others in random colors.  My three year old liked the wrapping motion of continuously stringing the thread around the craft stick.  The bilateral hand coordination with this task is a great way to practice hand-eye coordination through play.  There is really no end product that you are looking for with this activity.  Ask your child to be as creative as they like with the task of making their rhythm sticks.  It’s a great process art craft for preschoolers.  After you’ve got the thread on the stick, just tie off the end in a knot.  This is a part an adult might need to help out with.
      DIY rhythm sticks and activities for preschool aged kids

      Once our rhythm sticks were done, we started on creative learning through rhythm and rhyme.  You can find tons of musically inspired learning and play activities on our Music Learning Songs and Instruments  Pinterest board.  Be sure to follow along!  

      Rhythm Sticks activities for preschoolers:

      We practiced beat and patterns with our rhythm sticks.  Have your child sit criss-cross applesauce and hold a miniature rhythm stick in each hand.  Show them how to tap out a beat as you hit the sticks onto a hard surface or floor.  They can copy you.  Speak in a rhythm to say a rhyme or story as you both tap out the beat.  Add more complex patterns with tapping, movement, and sounds.  

      Learn the alphabet with rhythm sticks:  Say the alphabet together as you tap out a beat.  The adult can say the letters along with the child.  To extend the activity, pause at different letters and point to the child so they can say the next letter.  

      Counting with rhythm sticks:  Count to 10 or 20 while tapping out a rhythm on the floor.  You can extend this activity by counting by even or odd numbers.  You can alternate numbers between children and take turns saying the numbers.

      Learn phone number with rhythm sticks:  As you tap out a beat with the rhythm sticks, say the numbers of your phone number.  You can also practice learning a home address with the rhythm sticks.

      DIY rhythm sticks and activities for preschool aged kids

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      Be sure to Follow our Music Learning Songs and Instruments Pinterest board.

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