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Body Part CardsOne challenge I have found in educating children with Sensory Processing Disorder is finding ways of slipping in focused sensory breaks and sensory diet-friendly learning activities before the child’s behaviors make all of us want to lose our heads.  If you ever feel this way, too, you might want to try my strategy and grab a deck of Body Part picture cards.  With these cards – and a bit of imagination – you will be ready for a sensory break almost anywhere, anytime.

Consider these quick ideas for using Body Parts cards to help you and the children in your classroom focus on each of the senses in simple, silly and sensory-focused ways:

Make a Little Music – Auditory
Challenge children to see what kind of sounds they can make using whatever body part card is drawn. This can be as simple as slapping, clapping, stomping, etc. or, it might require some creative thought and a few props. As you play, stay attentive to the children to determine if this is an alerting or calming activity. Challenge the children to make sounds accordingly – soft and sustained, loud and sudden, etc.

Spray, Crush, Rub and Sniff Parts – Olfactory
Depending on each child’s tolerance, choose appropriate scented materials for the children to spray, crush, rub or otherwise apply to different body parts as cards are drawn. These might be natural items, such as flowers and herbs, or man-made ones, such as perfumes and lotions. Just be sure to have non-scented soap and water ready before overload hits!

Move Your X – Proprioceptive
An old standby that’s lots of fun is “Move Your X”. Basically, the children are challenged to creatively move whatever body part is pictured on a card drawn.  This game can be tied to many objectives – counting (jump/clap/stomp/shake/wiggle x times), adverbs (move slowly, quickly, strangely, etc.) and more.

I Can’t Hear You! – Oral-Motor
To get those lips, teeth and tongue moving, play a game of Move Your X – I-Can’t-Hear You style. Instead of revealing a card drawn, or stating what part is pictured on it, have one child  secretly draw a card.  Only that child can look at the card. That child then mouths the word to whatever is pictured on it, using exaggerated mouth movements. For example, for “mouth”, the person would press their lips together very tightly for the “m” sound, open their mouth quite wide for the “ou” sound and then stick the tongue out between the teeth in a funny way for the “th” sound. The other person would then respond, “Excuse me. I cannot hear you. Was that m-m-m-ou-th?” before moving on with the usual game. (This, of course, can lead to false guesses on the second person’s part and even more exaggerated mouth movements on the first person’s!)

Tickle My X –Tactile
Using fingers or a light object, such as a feather or a long piece of grass (the kind with the puffy seeds on top), draw cards and tickle each other based on the cards drawn.

Balance a Stuffie – Vestibular
Grab a stuffed toy or pinecone, fallen leaf, ball from your yard or any other small object on hand. Draw a card and try to balance the object on the body part pictured. Alternately, try to pick up the object, in pairs or trios, using only the pictured body part.

Eye Spy – Visual
One child draws a card and, without saying what is on it, focuses his or her eyes on the part of his or her partner’s body that corresponds with the picture on the card. The partner then responds, ‘You spy my x ?”, trying to guess what card was drawn.

With these ideas at hand, your head might be swirling with more creative ideas. So, quick, print a deck of cards, go have some fun. Then, stop back here share how you use Body Part cards in your play and learning times.

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Martianne is a homeschooling mom with over 20 years of experience in education, youth work and dramatic arts both in the United States and abroad. With certifications as a Middle School Generalist and English 8-12 teacher, plus a drawer full of certificates from a wide variety of professional development workshops and graduate courses, she brings a comprehensive “traditional” background to her present-day creative pursuits. Visit Martianne at Training Happy Hearts.