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Ilana Danneman
BY Ilana Danneman

5 Indoor Sensory Break Activities That Are Sure to Improve Attention

Staying indoors this season? Living where it’s too cold to go outside? Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, a few great tricks can make the difference between a productive and non-productive day or happy versus tearful kids.

Children need to learn how to move when recess or physical education class are not an option. So, get that putty off the wall and try these sensory seeking, indoor activities to get everyone back on track and singing your praises

1. A Makeshift Gym

Make Space for Your Gym. You don’t need an actual gym to get a great workout. All you need is a chair and just the floor space around it. Try having your kids do chair push ups (they can sit and push up on their seat or lean toward the chair in a push up position and push up). They can also do chair dips, squats and lunges. Have them reach toward the floor while sitting and get a great back stretch. Got a sensory seeker or under responder? Jumping Jacks are great! They can do them right near their chairs. The benefits? Improvements in blood circulation, deep breathing and better concentration.

 2. Deep Breathing

The Mouth Matters. If you’re kids have been inside all day, their breathing is probably very shallow. Deep breathing encourages a better intake in oxygen and improvements in attention. You can use bubbles for blowing, straws for sipping, kazoos for humming and cotton balls for puffing. Of course wind instruments are fantastic for deep breathing as well: recorder, harmonica, trumpet and clarinet are my favorite. And, if you don’t have any tools, try just having everyone take 10 deep breaths or running in place. The results may be breathtaking!

3. Handy Work

Using hands for heavy work acts much like a filter when it comes to sensory processing. It can get the fingers and intrinsic muscles ready to write, keyboard or do math skills. Try squeezy balls, fidgets or putty. Push ups and chin ups or swinging and climbing a ladder (grasping) can also help to strengthen the hands and prepare for a day of learning. Art and cooking are my favorite heavy hand activities as there is a result at the end of the hard work.

4. Dance It Off

Stuck inside? Turn on the music and dance! You don’t need a dance floor? You can dance in one spot, around the kitchen, through the living room or right in the classroom. Dancing is a terrific rainy-day-recess-break. Your kids will love you for this and they will have a new sense of what is really “cool!”

5. Work on Coordination

Got a few small scarves? Juggling balls? Wad of paper? A tennis ball? Lets play catch. Hand-eye coordination engages the brain and the body to work together. By crossing midline and coordinating the hand and eye, the brain forms pathways that can calm and engage long after the fun has ended. Try a weighted ball, odd shaped ball, catching with the non-dominant hand and clapping in between catches.

Move! Get your kids moving and move along with them. The few minutes spent will pay off through out the rest of the day. Movement will raise endorphin levels, concentration levels and over all productivity.


Ilana Danneman

Written on February 16, 2015 by:

Ilana Danneman is a pediatric physical therapist with over 25 years experience in the special needs field developing 100's of products, blogging, providing customer education, and catalog direction. She has worked for both School Specialty and Fun and Function and currently is a contract blogger and product developer as well as home health pediatric and geriatric physical therapist. She is currently the owner of the idea therapist and can be reached at [email protected]