Whether it’s for tech equipment, educational materials, or supplies for extracurricular activities, we all know that it takes money and resources to run a great school. This is where Box Tops for Education™ comes into play!
I’ve been aware of the Box Tops for Education™ program for awhile now, but I’ll admit that I haven’t always been consistent with keeping up with it over the years for my boys’ school. Luckily, my kids love searching for the Box Tops label on all of our groceries and helping me remember to cut them out and set them aside. We had a blast on our latest trip to WalMart to pick out some snacks and treats for our upcoming Box Tops collection activity!
If you’re not familiar with this awesome program, here’s the deal…
Box Top labels appear on hundreds of General Mills® products and can be collected and turned into participating schools. Each Box Top is worth $.10 for your child’s school and the funds can be used for schools to buy whatever they need! The Box Tops program is one of America’s largest school earnings loyalty programs, with more than 80,000 participating schools, and has contributed over $525 million to schools since it started in 1996.
To me as a mom, contributing to the Box Tops for Education™ program means being an active part of the school community and helping to make our school the best it can be. When we’re invested in improving and supporting our schools, our kids take notice and become more invested themselves. Collecting Box Tops is easy and is a great way to encourage the whole family to participate in bettering our schools. Simply shop for participating products (there are tons of them!), clip the Box Tops, and turn them into your child’s school!
As a school-based occupational therapist, I can think of a million ways that schools could use funds collected from the Box Tops for Education™ program to enhance kids’ overall learning experience. Here at The Inspired Treehouse, we are huge advocates for inspiring active learning through a movement and sensory-rich environment. We think that kids learn best when they’re moving and when all of their senses are engaged. We would love to see schools using their Box Tops funds to enhance the learning environment in this way.
We thought it would be fun to brainstorm some ideas for how Box Tops funds could be used to enhance kids’ learning experiences at school with a Classroom Sensory Motor Kit! Here are some simple materials that teachers could keep on hand to infuse movement and sensory input throughout the day to promote attention and engagement:
1 || Balance Boards – A balance board can be a fun DIY project, but are also available commercially and are an awesome way to provide kids with vestibular movement breaks throughout the day. Kids can stand on the boards, rocking their weight back and forth or they can sit on them, rocking forward and backward. A great balance challenge!
2 || Bean Bags – There are a million ways to use bean bags for movement breaks and to add movement into academic activities. They can be used for sight word target practice (write sight words on a large marker board and have kids toss bean bags at each word, reading as they go!), counting activities during circle time (e.g. toss the bean bag 10 times), cooperative games and more!
3 || Cones – Cones are a great addition to a classroom sensory motor kit – they can be used for obstacle courses and relay races to maneuver around or to mark start and finish lines! Again, incorporating cognitive and academic concepts into these activities is easy! How about a math fact relay? Or an obstacle course to promote multi-step direction following?
4 || Carpet Squares – These are a must-have for classrooms with younger kids and can be used to encourage body/space awareness during circle time and other group activities where kids are sitting on the floor. Carpet squares can also be set up on the floor around the room to allow kids to read or work in a different position away from their desks. Or, make them into stepping stones or lily pads for jumping and running games!
5 || Streamers – Streamers add a visual and body awareness component to movement and dancing activities in the classroom and can be used in a million different ways (throwing and catching, imitating movements, writing letters in the air, etc.)
6 || Sensory Bins – This is such a simple and impactful sensory addition to any classroom. Simply purchase a few large plastic bins and fill them with dried beans, rice, or another sensory medium. Or, purchase smaller containers to make mini-sensory bins to be used by one or two children at a time. Add math or letter manipulatives to incorporate some sensory learning fun!
7 || Scooters – Here’s another fun classroom item that you can make yourself! Scooters are a great way to incorporate movement into the routine, either with movement breaks in the hallway (check out some of our favorite scooter games) or academic based relay races.
8 || Rhythm sticks – Have a classroom with lots of kids who love to make noise? Humming, singing, clicking, talking – all day long? Rhythm sticks are a really fun way to incorporate some auditory input throughout the day. Use them during downtime to create a rhythm together as a class or for learning activities like tapping out syllables of words or counting.
9 || Seating options like ball chairs, seat cushions, and sensory stools – It’s always helpful to have more than one seating alternative on hand for kids who need a little extra movement or for kids who struggle with posture and core strength.
10 || Resistance bands – A simple addition to a classroom sensory motor kit, these stretchy bands provide nice resistive proprioceptive input for kids who have difficulty regulating the force and intensity of their movements and behaviors. You can also tie them around the legs of chairs or desks for kids to bounce their feet on to help them focus.
11 || Yoga mats – More and more classrooms are integrating yoga, meditation, and calming breathing techniques into the daily routine to help kids calm their bodies and minds. Yoga is also fabulous for promoting balance, flexibility, coordination, and more! Why not have a few yoga mats on hand? We also cut yoga mats into squares to make non-skid squares for jumping and other gross motor games.
12 || Fidget toys – Fidget toys are toys or small objects that can be provided to kids to regulate their need for movement and touch. Having something to hold and fidget with can help kids focus and attend in the classroom. Fidget toys can be purchased from therapy or educational catalogs or you can pick up small toys and objects at discount stores to be used as fidgets.
13 || Itinerant swing – This is our dream sensory item as therapists who practice in a setting with limited space for sensory and movement activities! An itinerant swing has a collapsible frame, so it can be easily folded up and stored away when it’s not being used. So many kids benefit from the vestibular input provided by a swing – this item is on our wish list!
15 || Bubbles – Bubbles are one of the quickest, easiest ways to a kid’s heart. Add a fun bubble machine to the mix for extra fun!. Pop them with different body parts, stomp on them, or use them for a simple visual or oral sensory activity!
16 || Play dough or putty – Here’s another great sensory tool that’s near and dear to this OT’s heart! Play with play dough is a great way to incorporate some tactile play into the day and also offers resistive feedback as kids push and pull to make dough or putty creations!
17 || Weighted ball – This is a fun item, again, for kids who need a little heavy work or resistive input. They can roll it back and forth to one another or play a bowling game!
Whether these materials are used for learning by embedding an academic concept in the movement or sensory activity or simply used as fun brain breaks or indoor recess ideas, they all have the power to enrich the classroom by adding in some sensory motor fun!
This school year, I’m making a resolution to be more involved with collecting Box Tops for my kids’ school. And here at The Inspired Treehouse, we’ll be dedicating a lot of time to providing information about creating sensory and motor-rich learning environments for kids, in hopes of inspiring schools to use their Box Tops funds to purchase equipment and create solutions like the ones we described above!
What better way to start collecting than with a fun Box Tops collection kickoff? Not only did we have fun shopping for and collecting the Box Tops from all of the General Mills® products we purchased at WalMart, we also used the products to help create a fun and active Box Tops collection activity to get our friends and family moving and contributing to the cause – supporting our schools!
Stay tuned to find out more about our Box Tops collection kickoff next week!
*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of General Mills®. The opinions and text are all mine. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.