Monday, 13 February 2017

10 Under $10 Sensory Must-Haves

10 under $10 Sensory Must-Haves

Sophie Varvel

Student of the Year

Why does everyone keep talking about sensory toys and what’s the hype? Well for me working with children who have experienced trauma, their senses are either in overdrive and need regulating or they are absent and need stimulating.

The senses of seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling and feeling activate their minds and can calm their nervous system that often is in overdrive. So look at the children you are working with or your own children and work out do they need something to calm their senses or something to stimulate it?

I love using everyday items or bargain items to build my sensory kit at work. Probably some of my best finds come from 2 Dollar shops or my favourite shop of all time-Kmart! So go looking and try and find the best bang for you buck before spending hundreds of dollars on sensory toys. These are my top 10 under $10 sensory must haves.

1. Play-Doh

Play-Doh is one of the most versatile sensory tools to use with children. It is cheap to buy, even easier to make and children of all ages are aware of play-doh. 

To spice up the sensory experience of Play-Doh here are some tips:

  • Add some glitter 
  • Add a few drops of essential oil
  • Add leaves, bark or small pebbles for a nature experience

Available: Kmart (Play-Doh Party Bag x15: $10)
Trauma Informed Teaching

2. Bubbles

Bubbles, Bubbles, MY BUBBLES! 
Great tool for children to not only run around and chase but to learn controlled breathing. Many students may find blowing bubbles difficult-practice makes perfect!

Available: Kmart (24 mini bubbles: $5, mini bubble wands x8: $2 or mega bubble wand: $0.75)
Trauma Informed Teaching
Bubble Wands

3. Feathers

Feathers are a calming experience and help regulate breathing. Stroke the feather along arms for calming. Hold feather up and have students control their breathing by blowing the feather.

Available: Kmart (Craft feathers: $2)

4. Squishy Toys

Tactile, fidgety, calming and regulating. These are definitely one of my stock standards in sensory kits. They are all SO different. They have lights inside them, they make noises, they have spiky bits and squishy bits and move and stretch and roll.

Available: One Stop Sensory Shop (See Anemone: $4)

5. Stretchy dinosaurs

Pull them, squish them, throw them on the walls and roof! Have them in the car for your children to help them do something with their hands and stay settled. Or include them in your lesson and have students measure how long the can make their stretchy animal (I am sure can include that somewhere in your measurement outcomes).

Available: Kmart (Sticky and Stretchy Animals: $3)
Trauma Informed Teaching
Sticky and Stretchy Animals

6. Fidget toys

They come in ALL shapes and sizes. Small, discreet and great for everyday fidgeters. Often students who have experienced trauma heart rate is way above other students and their body is in survival mode, therefore hard for them to sit still.

Available: One Stop Sensory Shop (Wooden Flexi Robot: $7)

Sue Larkey (Twist puzzle Key Chain: $3)

Leave it to Leslie (Twist and Lock: $2.20 and Twist and Lock Dinosaur: $10)
Trauma Informed teaching
Twist Puzzle Key Chain
Trauma Informed Teaching
Twist and Lock

7. Timers

Transition times or calming down after activities are often the hardest times during the day for our students. Having warnings and timers not only help give time to activities ending but the liquid timers can provide soothing experience as it regulates their heart rate and breathing watching the liquid settle.

Available: Sue Larkey (15 sec wheel timer key ring: $4)

Leave it to Lesley (Mini Hourglass timer: $9)
Trauma Informed Teaching

8. Wooden Massager

Soothing fidget toy that can give pressure to different parts of the body or massage hands. Great for adults too!

Available: Sue Larkey (Wooden Massager: $4)
Trauma Informed Teaching
Wooden Massager

9. Velcro

Basic and simple, simply add strips along the desk for different sensory experiences. Are you feeling in a soft or spiky mood today?

Available: Kmart (Hook and Loop Tape: $3)

10. Rubber bands

Small or large or even exercise bands. I love using exercise bands on the chair legs to help students sit still in their seat and have resistance and exercise with their legs without getting out of their seat.

Available: Kmart (Stretch bands x3: $8)

Get creative! Think outside the box. Would love to see what else you may be able to think of to add to your own sensory box!

Websites to access resources:

Sue Larkey

One Stop Sensory Shop


Leave it to Leslie

Student of the Year

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Your Student of the Year Could Be Anyone

We start each year as educators with our unintentional stereotypical categories for each of our new students. We don't want to think this way. It is not our aim or our mindset. But it is what happens.

How do we classify the student renown for skipping class, swearing like a trooper, and starting fist fights? What labels do we unintentionally give to the student who breaks into the school and trashes your classroom? The primary student who spends their evenings roaming the streets with their high school mates, known by name to the local constables. The student in your class living in foster care. Does this student fit the "student of the year" category in your mind?

My guess is no. But why can't they?

The answer is, they can. I have seen it happen.

The title of this Blog is Student of the Year.
Trauma Informed Teaching

It is based on a story of one student who did become just that.
As I sat in meetings about this child with the local principals, welfare officers and police liaison officers, I would have thought not.

But, for each child, despite their background. Despite their trauma. Despite their current living situations, there is hope. Hope for a future and a tomorrow.
Hope that can grow in our classrooms and our schools.
Hope that springs from a trauma informed perspective that can change lives.

This is the philosophy and the back story to Student of the Year.

I hope that through here, you, as educators can grow in your knowledge of childhood trauma. You can grow in your understanding of how it impacts in the classroom and in learning.
That you can see a child differently thorough this space. You can see their future. A hope beyond their past.

At the moment, most things I post will be on the Facebook Page...jump over and join. As time (and energy) permits. I will post more things in here.

Please come with me on this journey. May we see a classload of Student's of the Year.