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Sensory Circuits

Sensory Circuits uses sensory-based movement activities that help children and young people to achieve the ‘just right’ level of alertness they need to prepare themelves for the day’s learning. The circuits are based on the theory and principles of Sensory Integration.

The below information is to help schools and parents with setting up Sensory Circuits.

Sensory Circuits use sensory-based movement activities which prepare children and young people for the day’s learning and help them to achieve the ‘just right’ level of alertness they need to concentrate.

They are made up of around 15-20 minutes of activities to help with sensory regulation.

The aim of setting up a sensory circuit is to provide a way for children and young people to regularly receive a controlled sensory input. They can be done with a small group of children at the start of the school day or after lunch break.

You can also adapt the sensory circuit at home depending your space and the equipment you have.

A Sensory Circuit includes three sections: Alerting, Organising and Calming. The idea is to start with Alerting activities then move to the Organising section and finally to the Calming section. It’s important to do the activities in this order to have a positive effect. The activities should be done regularly to help prepare children for the day’s learning and achieve optimum level of alertness.

Key points to consider:

  • Children and young people must be supervised when completing the circuit. It is important to consider that each child’s tolerance is different they should be able to work at their own pace.
  • Ideally, a child or young person should spend up to five minutes per station, on different activities. Some children may need more time in the alerting or calming section to help them to be more organised and prepared for the day’s learning or activities.
  • Use a visual strip/task strip if this will help the them to go through the activities in a structured way.

Alerting section

The aim here is to provide both vestibular (movement and balance) and proprioceptive (awareness of body in space) stimulation as these can help the child to become more alert.

  • Jumping on a trampette
  • Sitting and bouncing on a gym ball
  • Star jumps
  • Marching
  • Step-ups
  • Skipping
  • Lying over a gym ball on their tummy, roll forwards and weight bear through the arms

Organising section

This includes activities that provide a motor challenge and requires the child or young person to plan, organise and/or sequence their movement.

  • Catching a ball or beanbag
  • Throwing a ball or beanbag to a target
  • Balancing on wobble boards or walking along a gym bench
  • Crawling through a tunnel
  • Jumping through hoops (3-5 hoops)
  • Log rolling - with hands clasped and arms stretched out above the head
  • Crawling through a tunnel
  • Animal walks eg crab walk, bunny hops

Calming section

The activities suggested below provide proprioceptive (deep pressure) input and heavy muscle work which can have a calming and organising effect.

  • Have an adult apply deep pressure through child’s shoulders using the palms of their hands (keeping fingers together). Maintain the pressure for up to 10 seconds, repeat 3 to 5 times
  • Chair or wall push-ups
  • Child lies on their tummy over a gym ball and rolls over gently, backwards and forwards
  • Child lies down on their tummy and an adult rolls a gym ball on their back using firm, consistent pressure
  • For older children, stretch a theraband or resistance bands in front of their body or above their head. Repeat 5-10 times