Thematic planning made easy.


My school plans half termly, using a theme to bring all the subject areas together. I always find a really good, exciting book or poem and break it down into really small steps, which can be linked to all curriculum areas.

At home, I have a 2-year-old son, so we do enjoy a few Cbeebies programmes. The other day, we watched a sound poem recited by ‘Magic Hands’ and it was wonderful, and got me thinking about how wonderful this could be at the centre of a topic. So, I had a google and found a similar sound poem (The Sound Collector by Roger McGough), and here are some examples from verses 1 &2 of how I would use this for a whole term, bringing in a wide range of cross curricular links. (I’m using loose curriculum areas as each school is different, and the topic could well be anything you like, as you could change some of the words to fit into a theme 😉 ) Hopefully I exemplify how to expand on certain words and phrases in order to get creative and exciting with your planning ideas!

Please message me if you ever need ideas on your sensory themes as this is my favourite bit!


Literacy/ communication and language-

  • Make each verse into a sensory poem by finding lovely props for each line, this can make a nice whole class starter activity, or be lengthened into a small group activity.
  • Develop communication strategies
  • Develop mark making throughout using various media as stated in poem- crumbs, bubbles, cereal etc.
  • Develop tracking- left to right and up and down.
  • I find Literacy can fit onto lots of the activities below….

Numeracy/ cognition-

  • Each week use number rhymes, counting, shape/ colour activities running alongside the following
  • Verse 1- put items in and out of bags/ develop object permanence/ sort items into bags
  • V1- explore telling the time/ explore daily routine/ explore night and day
  • V2- make toast/ cut it into quarters etc/ hand out plates and toast to each child
  • V2- fill a tuff spot with cereals, glitter, sand and dig!! Explore, fill, empty, pour.
  • V2- make cornflake cakes exploring measure. Add cornflakes to cornflour to make interesting gloop.


  • Verse 1- Explore strangers/ family members/ people around school who help us
  • V1- can we practice and refine dressing skills/ look in mirror use props to make ourselves look different
  • V2- can we share our cornflake cakes with friends from other classes?
  • V2- A scraping noise can sound horrible! What sounds do we like/ dislike? Can we share our likes with a peer?

Physical development-

  • Verse 1- what can we carry/ grasp/ lift/ pass
  • V1- fine motor skills- feel and explore bread crumbs, add glitter and sand to make it extra sensory/ explore on a light box.
  • V1- turn locks, explore toys that can be pulled/ turned/ slid
  • V2- crunch cornflakes with our feet- what other textures can we walk over/ feel with feet/ hands?

Understanding the world-

  • Verse 1- Explore morning routines
  • V1- explore sounds as stated/ use a switch to control the kettle
  • V1- explore animal sounds
  • V2- make toast, explore and taste different toppings
  • V2- popping! What else can we pop? Explore different textures and of course make bubbles. Can we make gloop that might pop? What about popcorn!
  • V6- I would really explore the word silence, with reflection and mindfulness in mind.

Expressive arts and design-

  • Verse 1- what sounds can we make?
  • V2- explore bubble art/ bubble printing/ bubble paint
  • V2- spread with marmalade- paint with orange scented paint/ what else could we spread?
  • Experiment with sensory paint- add colours, textures, foam, scents.
  • V1-6- could you make a fab display of sound socks or gloves? Filling said items with lovely sensory items for children to feel and think about?



Working with a child who has a significant visual impairment and severe learning difficulties.

I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of very different pupils over the years, each with various learning difficulties and multi-sensory impairments. I have always found teaching a child with a visual impairment and a severe learning difficulty really, really challenging. Even with the support of MSI teachers, and teachers of the visually impaired, I still struggle with new ideas, but here are a few pointers and activities that may help you, if new to the visually impaired.

  • Communication– get your school up to date on TASSELS. This is an on-body signing method that can really support your P1- Pdownload (1)3 pupils. Just concentrate on a few signs per child, that will cue them into the most important sessions of the day, e.g. eat, drink, hello, movement.
  • Communication– Objects of Reference- these are object cues that you will use to cue your child into every activity. The objects should be exactly the same in every class across the school for good continuity. Some examples that we have used are; a spoon for dinner time (if the child is fed orally), a cup for drink time, some fabric for home time (to represent the coat). Your school can pick out the most important things on the timetable, and decide on your own cues, personal to your school.
  • Routine– try to keep things quite samey, so the child can become familiar with your class and become more independent in their actions. Keep your classroom lay out uncluttered and unmoved as then the more mobile child can explore and find things with greater independence (and less accidents).
  • Time– give the child plenty of time to respond to instructions and exploratory activities. Ensure the pupils can explore their
    environment wherever possible to find out where they are and become familiar with it.
  • Positioning– I always get picked up on this in observations; position your child with VI in a way that the light is coming behind them, not in front of them, or try to work in a more darkened area if possible.
  • Texture– find really interesting sensory objects to explore relating to your theme (see my blog on renew, reuse, recycle!) I recently saw a class team develop a sensory wall, high contrasting items, reflective items, textured items, noisy items. Of course the pupils were encouraged to make items for the wall, through use of exploration and choice.
  • Texture– create a sensory book, where each page of a story has a tactile item on it to explore. This will also encourage page turning, listening and
  • Sound– when one sense is impaired, the others are more sensitive, so a lot of children with visual impairments will enjoy music and sound exploration. Use sound or music cues as part of your daily routine and enjoy familiar sounds and rhymes together.
  • Sound– create a sound story, where each page has a focus of a sound rather than a texture
  • Sight– most VI pupils do have some vision to work with, so following guidance from your MSI advisor, work in a dark tent exploring interesting lights/ shiny/ reflective items.images
  • Smell– create ‘smelly’ boxes relating to your topics!
  • I will add more as I experience more good practice from my fellow sensory teachers 😉

Reuse, renew and recycle!

scarfscarf 2

In Wolverhampton, we are fortunate to have a super art supplier called ‘scarf4art’ In brief, scarf sources its materials from local businesses waste! The stuff you can find is gold, and a bagful of interesting bits and bobs can cost as little as £5!! You have to go to see what I mean, but if you want interesting, stimulating, random resources, scarf is the place for you!

Should you not live in Wolverhampton then use this website ( to find a scrap store near you, and trust me, make time to visit it! Your treasure boxes/ tuff spots will never be the same again!

Rio 2016!

Sports day ideas- Ririoo inspired games for 2016!

Every year I struggle to find new and exciting sports day games that can be fun for both PMLD and SLD pupils. Here are a few all ability games we followed this year (and it was hailed as the best year yet, hehe).

I put groups of pupils together by age group, and gave each group a country as their team name. Prior to the day, classes made flags/ banners/ shakers etc to bring to the event. Thus encouraging a thematic link.

Every sports day needs a warm up! We paraded each teams’ flags/ banners and Olympic torches to funky music. We followed this by playing the classic ‘beans’ game, and for the younger ones, adapted it with Mr. Men characters. (So for Mr. Tall, we stretched, Mr. Fast, we moved fast etc.)

The Games:

Skittles- a classic game, use sensory balls to stimulate and grab, use drainpipes to roll down, encourage classes to make their own sensory skittles!

Popcorn!- a parachute game, where two teams came together as one and made sure all the balls stayed on the parachute through lots of movements. Pupils who found this hard, then enjoyed feeling the movement of the parachute and exploring the colours in front of them.

Don’t spill it! – a water based game, where a bucket was filled with water and was passed along a line of pupils. The pupil on the end then ran to the beginning of the line, before it was repeated. Who had the most water left over?

Drop it!- pupils had to pick up/ grasp as water balloon from one box and drop it into another further away. Who managed to keep their water balloons full?


Don’t forget your cool down! We had ice creams- sssshhh, not so healthy schools huh?!


Talking of Rio, here is a fantastic link to bring Rio into all areas of the curriculum…


Literacy & Communication- Personal stories

A short sensory story centred around the child is a wonderful way to bring Literacy into your sensory classroom. You may want to link it into their school day, their family or favourite things. Just think about what a child could achieve if they were motivated daily by a wonderful story all about them, and what they can do!

An example story…

This is Sam (Show Sam a mirror and name body parts)personal story

Sam enjoys having a good stretch every day (sing a body song that encourages movement)

Sam loves to feel different textures (explore a few textures and make a choice- is it consistent?)

Sam also enjoys watching bubbles fall (attach a bubble machine to a switch box and develop cause and effect through switch work)

Sam enjoys relaxing with a hand massage (engage in a massage)

Link your IEPS to something that they cover during the story e.g. intensive interaction, switch work, responses, grasping, tracking etc. Timetable the story into lessons at least twice a week and ensure repetition, fun and achievements. Of course, over a term or period of time, extend and challenge the pupil by amending the resources.