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Creating an emotionally enabling environment in the classroom benefits all children. Encourage children to express and control their emotions through sensory play activities:
Using a seed or compost tray with different sections, put cornflour gloop (cornflour mixed with water), clay, wet sand or dough into the sections. Play alongside the child and encourage them to squeeze, pummel, scrape and break up the substance. Talk about what it feels like.
Collect a range of coloured tissue papers, newspapers and cardboard. Provide a large piece of paper (on the floor if there is room) and PVA glue. Encourage children to rip strips of paper and stick onto their floor picture. Talk about the sounds of crunching, tearing paper. Explore colours, textures and emerging pictures. Ask how does it make you feel?
Tape a large piece of bubble wrap to the floor. Offer a selection of brightly coloured socks, boots and slippers. Hold hands and stomp the bubbles. Sing songs and rhymes about marching and stamping. Talk about stamping away angry feelings.
Use a selection of upturned saucepans, bins and buckets to create a drum kit. Offer a selection of beaters (wooden spoons, sticks). Provide some background drumming music and get down to the beat.
Set up the role play area as a building site. Provide tools for hammering, large blocks and tyres for building, big paintbrushes and paint rollers. Use tarpaulin to create an accessible den for all children and giant cardboard boxes to build towers.
Use colour and space in the classroom to create different areas for children to express their feelings – a quiet reading space inside a pop-up tent, or an accessible outdoor stage for dancing and singing.
A guide for teachers and special educational needs co-ordinators
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