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Alta, IA: Elementary school sensory where kids can "get their anger out"

Mar 23, 2018, Storm Lake (IA) Pilot Tribune: Sensory room at school provides a common-sense solution Students in Alta are enjoying a less conventional form of therapy implemented at Alta Elementary School. The “sensory room” gives children up to fourth grade the chance to get their energy out in a positive, mutually beneficial way, just a few minutes at a time. Its flexibility lends a hand to teachers by giving their students short opportunities whenever necessary throughout the day to participate in a variety of activities. These activities keep kids on track and focused throughout the day while developing fine and gross motor skills. “Sensory needs come in so many different ways,” said Sheri Van Berkum, coordinator for the program. She works with about 10 regular students every day and a variety of students, as needed, from day to day. No day looks the same, keeping both her and the kids on their toes… … Van Berkum said. Alta is one of the few schools in northwestern Iowa that has implemented a sensory room. The activities are simple, and the items used are inexpensive. Items as simple as a mini trampoline and ball, play dough and a whiteboard provide a medium to reinforce positive, encouraging messages and behaviors in students. … Using “regulation zones” to gauge how a child is feeling, Van Berkum directs kids to different activities that will help them deal with the emotions they are experiencing in the moment. Kids in the red zone might rip up a magazine to get their anger out. Kids in yellow might use some breathing exercises to help calm them down. Those in the green zone might use the trampoline to spring the energy out of their constantly tapping feet. …

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