Movement and Sensory Integration in the SNP

“Learn to Move, Move to Learn,” by  Jenny Clark Brack, is a sensory-integrated, theme-based program that has us engaged in group movement activities throughout the day.  The program is based on seven steps to help us assimilate all of our cognitive, language, and social/emotional skills with our sensory and motor activation and integration, and the balance of these activities with the theme we are learning makes for an exciting and motivating way for us to learn the skills that will be necessary for later success.  The seven components include:  warm-up, proprioceptive play, eye-hand play, vestibular play, fine motor activities, balance, and cool-down.  To give you an example of how we implemented this program throughout our “zoo” theme, our warm-up was a cute, hand-holding in a circle, rhyme about monkeys swinging in a tree that we did during our morning circle.  Right before our learning centers, we did our vestibular activity which included having the children hold a ball between their knees while they jumped around the room like kangaroos.  We also worked in our eye-hand activity before centers, and this was a game of “feeding the hippo” by throwing bean bag fruit into a hippo toy’s belly from a distance that challenged the children, depending on their abilities.  During center rotations, we always have theme-related art, writing and manipulative activities which challenge and strengthen the children’s fine motor skills.  Right after lunch, and before our literacy circle, we got in our balance and proprioceptive activities.  For balance, we went back and forth between a “Monkey See, Monkey Do” game where the children had to follow my lead to stand on one foot, walk on tiptoes, touch the ground and lift one leg, etc., and a “Cross the Crocodile River” (walking on a balance beam) to deliver beanie animals to the other side.  For proprioception, we went back and forth between “elephant stomping” around the room, and making an “animal soup” with the small parachute, where the kids had to each hold a handle on the parachute and work together to bounce the beanie animals out of the chute.  Finally, the cool-down happens naturally in our literacy circle as we sing theme-related songs and read our story of the week.

Hopefully, you understand the huge benefits of “Learn to Move, Move to Learn” in our preschool classroom as a nice augmentation to our existing curriculum!  The kids LOVE the activities, and it keeps us all up and moving!

***NOTE:  We always begin the day with, what we call, “The Big Four.”  We have some wonderful movement equipment that we continue to use everyday: a cradle swing, a sitting spin disc, a trampoline, and a red cone.  These pieces are all used to stimulate both the proprioceptive and vestibular systems, and every child rotates through these activities first thing in the morning.

Definitions of Sensory Systems from Wikipedia:

Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and joint position. This ability enables us to know where our limbs are in space without having to look. It is important in all everyday movements but especially so in complicated sporting movements, where precise coordination is essential.

The vestibular system, in most mammals, is the sensory system that provides the leading contribution to the sense of balance and spatial orientation for the purpose of coordinating movement with balance.

Eye–hand coordination (also known as hand–eye coordination) is the coordinated control of eye movement with hand movement, and the processing of visual input to guide reaching and grasping along with the use of proprioception of the hands to guide the eyes.

Balance is an ability to maintain the line of gravity (vertical line from centre of mass) of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway. … Maintaining balance requires coordination of input from multiple sensory systems including the vestibular, somatosensory, and visual systems.

The somatosensory system is a part of the sensory nervous system. The somatosensory system is a complex system of sensory neurons and pathways that responds to changes at the surface or inside the body. The axons (as afferent nerve fibers), of sensory neurons connect with, or respond to, various receptor cells.

Fine motor skill (or dexterity) is the coordination of small muscles, in movements—usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers—with the eyes.

The definition of kinesthetic relates to learning through feeling such as a sense of body position, muscle movement and weight as felt through nerve endings.