Children, in particular those with special needs, often need many breaks throughout their school day to help them focus, stay on track, or calm down in order to sit and participate. If you are in a public school environment, sitting at a desk all day can be a challenge for children with special needs. Today I am sharing some calming, organizing, and alerting activities for children.
These can be used in school, at home, in homeschool routines, really anywhere. There is also a free printable packet of all the ideas below for you to grab.
Organizing Activities for Kids
- Heavy work (gives input to muscles and joints and causes fatigue)
- Wall pushes with hands and feet.
- Jumping on trampoline
- Popcorn jumps (jumping from a squat position and then landing back in a squat position)
- Wheelbarrow walking
- Crawling through tunnels
- Obstacle course
- Putting up/down chairs
- Sitting on “move and sit” therapy ball during during classroom activities
- Passing the weighted balls
- Scooter board on belly and bottom (wall push offs) 10+ reps
- Resistance Bands
Now for some Alerting Activities. These are great to use with kids who are more quiet and tend to be lethargic. Also great to use after sitting activities to get the juices flowing again. Just make sure you do some type of calming activity after an Alerting activity before asking your child to sit back down to learn and work again.
Alerting Activities for Kids
- Bouncing on a therapy ball
- Upbeat music with a strong beat
- Vibrations on the arms, hand or back
- Jumping on a mini-trampoline
- Going outside
- Heavy work activities (moving a stack of books, re-arranging chairs etc)
- Use two fingers on both sides of the spine, give a light upward stroke 3-5 times.
- Controlled spinning (no more than 10 repetitions at a time – do not do this if there is any known heart or seizure history)
- Jumping Jacks
- Push Ups or Wall Push Ups
- Running (Relay races, obstacle courses etc)
Calming Activities for Kids
- Rocking slowly over ball on belly
- Turning off the lights
- Swinging in a large circle with child facing an adult (no spinning)
- Laying under a heavy blanket
- Soft music (spa CD)
- Bean bag squeezes
- Laying on the floor while an adult rolls a ball over top giving some deep pressure.
- Use of body sock/lycra material to wrap in
- Light touch/hard touch (depending on the child) – have the student brush a feather over their arms, or squeeze their arms with their hands for deep pressure.
- Using two fingers on both sides of the spine to give form downward strokes 3-5 times.
- Hand fidgets (such a play dough, wikki stix, theraputty etc.)
- Heavy work (moving furniture, a stack of heavy books, pulling a weighted backpack/rolling cart)
Free Printable of Organizing, Alerting, & Calming Activities for Kids
For more tips like this one you can follow my Occupational Therapy Tips board and my OT Tips from GRB board.