PE and The Sensory Learner

As a teacher of pupils with very severe and complex physical needs, PE can often be quite a tricky subject, mostly because we don’t have 1:1 support for the pupils.

Here are some tips and ideas to make a PMLD PE lesson on the way to outstanding….

  1. Lots of space, so every child can come out and stretch.
  2. Interesting props- Some scarves, tactile balls, light toys, A-frames/ floor gyms to encourage stimulation whilst waiting their turn, or to encourage reaching and grasping targets (link to cognition targets for cross curricular evidence).
  3. A routine- use the same music for a block of lessons, and work on similar movements, for the pupils to repeat over a few sessions. These can be built on if necessary and appropriate to their progress.
  4. Use the pupils’ physiotherapy targets as a focus for part or all of the lessons, use the time and space to collect evidence, of which you can build on each week.
  5. Encourage pupils to explore different pieces of equipment, as it could be fascinating for them. Adapt your co-active exploration of the object depending on the level of your child; are they encountering/ experiencing/ reacting/ responding/ causing an action?
  6. Engage in body awareness songs and massage.
  7. If you work in a school with a Post-16 dept., could you ask for some sensible students to support your lesson? This could develop their work experience and PSE skills, as well as giving you an extra pair of hands!

It’s not just about football and athletics on the PE curriculum, have you thought of trying…..

  1. Rebound
  2. Disability bikes/ balance bikes
  3. Sherbourne
  4. Sensory orienteering
  5. Hydrotherapy and swimming
  6. Boccia
  7. Balloon volleyball
  8. Motor programmes with familiar songs
  9. MOVE

There are national training courses for rebound, Sherbourne and balance-ability.

Google should help you with the rest!


Good luck and please, share your good practice in PE 🙂

A-frame/ folding activity arch.

aframe2Independence…. Time alone…. Self help…. These are all important skills to anyone, but sometimes, when a pupil has a complex physical impairment, we intervene too often, not giving the child the opportunity to explore these skills by themselves.

Which is why I am recommending ‘A-frames’. You can attach lovely sensory items to the Velcro that link to your topic and link to targets that the pupil is working on. You may add shiny items if you want tracking, or noisy items if you want responding, or tactile items of you want reaching and grasping.

You can also change the height of them, so pupils can be challenged accordingly. There are floor frames available too, so pupils can lie down whilst exploring, stretching their bodies whilst in a relaxed position- lovely! aframe 3

I think the feature that makes these ‘A-frames’ so exciting for pupils is that they can work by themselves, in peace and quiet, with no adult intervening. Just make sure you have your eye on them, ready to celebrate achievements!

TIP- I find these useful to have available when working with two pupils, and you need to offer 1:1 support, rotate the pupils with the a-frame, so you can work intensely with the other. Enjoy!


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…