Bubblegum in the classroom?!? Yes!!!

Bubble gum.... oh how I despise when my children chew you and I find you stuck my new carpet, but that is at my house.  At school, it is a different story!

Do you have any kids who have shirts that are soaked at the collar or sleeve because they are chewing on them?  (I am raising both hands and possibly my legs) Did you know that this type of behavior could be a sensory need?

At least 1 in 20 people in the general population could be impacted by a sensory disorder.  This can manifest in a many ways. These children may demonstrate hyperactivity, constant movement, touch others to often or to hard, and enjoy sounds that are loud or hate loud sounds, They may also have difficulty with motor movements such as imitation or balance and enjoy sedentary activities.  These children could become easily frustrated, prefer fantasy games over real life, be considered the "class clown" or avoid new group activities.

So, what can you do about this?  Well as educators we can provide simple accommodations that will benefit every student in your classroom and fit into a sensory diet.

One thing I have in my classroom that has made a huge difference in my kids attention and focus is light filters  These filters go right over the florescent lights (magnets help them stay up) in my classroom and give the room a blue dim glow.  My classroom seems so much more relaxed and at ease once I added the filters.  I use the ones from Educational Insights, but other companies make them also.

move & sit cushion
Another common occurrence in our classrooms is those kids who need to constant movement. Of course, the first thing I say is more recess, but I know that is not a possibility and we can't spend all day outside running around.  So when my students need to be at their desk, I give them options.  I don't care how they sit (or stand) as long as they are safe and doing their work.  Some of my students use exercise balls to sit, move & sit cushions (AKA wiggle seats), or theraband wrapped around the legs of a chair.

For those kids I was taking about earlier that chew.... bubble gum is one of my best friends.  My son, A, started chewing gum in first grade and it has made a huge difference.  He doesn't come home with holes in his shirts and he is more focused on his work.  As stress increases at school (closer to SOL time) he starts chewing more and more gum.   If you are not ready to make the leap into trying gum, you can also try other edibles such as pretzel rods or licorice.   You can also try chewable pencil toppers and chewlery.  Chewlery is jewelry that is made to look like pendents or dog tags that kids can chew on safely.

This is just the tip of the iceberg! There is a lot of research and information out there about sensory needs and lots of ideas on how you can address yours students' needs in your classroom.  Below are some links to different blog posts and websites that you may find useful.

Learning Ahoy!: Sensory Ideas Pinterest board
Learning Ahoy!: Sensory Sight Words
Lemon Lime Adventures: What is Sensory Processing?
Teach. Love. Autism: Sensory Room
The Autism Adventures of Room 83
The Lower Elementary Cottage

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