I don't know about you, but I think teaching and learning are much more fun if there are props, toys or tools to help captivate attention. And not only are they engaging for the students, but they can be motivating for teachers when making lesson plans and working through a curriculum. A hands-on activity can change an ordinary lesson into a multisensory experience to be remembered.
Use both hands. Whether you are working on handwriting or want to teach a unit on creative expression, using items like a sensory bin, weighted sand or Discovery Putty can put the words right into their hands. Heavy handwork can literally pull expression from the mind and through the hands. It can then be translated into a verbal or written presentation. Depending on the age, children can describe their experience or write out a story.
Express thoughts and feelings. Grab a self-regulation tool like Reggie Regulation Ruler or Mood Squares and help your kids learn how to express themselves. Add on a story about feelings or helping others, and use the tools to break the ice and stimulate discussions on compassion, feelings, and what it means to be part of a community.
Feel your way to literacy. Touch and sensory exploration can make a world of difference for those emerging readers and writers. Try hands-on activities with ABC Touch-and-Feel Letters or ABC Look-and-Feel Bag to ease learning challenges.
Eye-Hand movement. Eye hand coordination activities with scarves, fidget balls or beanbags can help your lessons come alive and keep students alert. Younger children can work on rolling or bouncing. Older kids can use these tools for engaging the mind and the body before or during testing or desk work. Use a scarf to cross midline, a ball to clap-catch and a beanbag to toss into a target.
M.A.C.E. Remember to take a minute before, during or after lessons: Meditate, Airway (breathe), Coordination and Exercise. Just 15-30 seconds on each can bring your kids back to their bodies and allow their minds to refocus and concentrate. Meditation can be as simple as visualizing a tree. Airway can be 5-10 deep breathes. Coordination can be crossing the right hand to the left foot and then the left hand to the right foot, 5 times each. Exercise can be 10 chair pushups.
Take a Sensory Break. A Break Box can be a perfect gift for a teacher to use in the classroom. In addition, having a ball chair, cozy canoe or wiggle cushion for those active learners can make a huge impact on the overall classroom environment and help kids engage when learning.
Remember to think out of the box and you will be surprised how easy it is to have your kids wanting to come to class every day to learn!