• Rachel

Tips and tricks for active learners

These are tricky times we live in and things have changed quite considerably for our children at their schools. I've heard so many times recently that children are being asked to sit in their seats for longer at school and this doesn't work for many, especially those (like me) who like to fidget and move regularly.

In my day job, I'm a school SENCo (Special Needs Coordinator) and I love thinking up different ways to make slight adaptations that can make a lot of difference to individual learners. Below are some things that have worked well for children throughout my years in the classroom, and with my own children at home. They don't all work for everyone but just one might lead to another idea that could make all the difference.

Physical resources

For fidgeting:

Classroom timers/sand timers like these:

Fidget cubes: or

Squishy balls , stretchy people , or blu tac

For pencil grasp:

Pencil grips like these:

Stabilo pencils (shaped to ease grip)

Right handed: , Left handed:

Pom pom or tissue in the hand (held with the little finger and ring finger when writing)

For bigger movements:

Wobble cushion like this:

Theraband/exercise band round chair legs:

Movement break ideas

Take a note to a different teacher (may be restricted during a pandemic)

Sharpen a pencil

Collect a resource from a different area in the classroom

Stand for a task, rather than sitting - some classrooms have standing stations for children to work there if they need to

Shorter tasks, broken into chunks, and placed in a finished box when each is completed (movement break plus sense of achievement)

Sit on the floor (when possible)


Adults could write the learning objective (if children are required to do this) so the focus is on the work to achieve it, rather than the effort to copy the objective itself

Dot on the page to show where to write up to (at least)

Minimum number of sentences in the lesson

Work broken down into chunks and a set number of chunks to complete

Sentence starters and templates

Word mats to support spelling

Alternative ways of recording

Alternative ways of working, e.g. with practical resources (may also be restricted)

Images to order and write captions for

Mind maps

Post-it note planning

Cloze procedure

Word processing on a laptop

Using writing frames or templates (breaking up the challenge of a blank page)

Power lines drawn on the page to encourage letter size and orientation

Speech to text

Sound buttons* to record sentences to play back ready to write

Reading support

Paired reading

Precision teaching grids for teaching sight words

Words on the fridge/wall in the bathroom/stairs

Daily phonics sounds like these: and

Find and highlight words/phrases

There are so many more ideas than can be listed here. Please add a comment if you have another gem to share!

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