Well, here we are again, folks! Another year in the books. 2019 is nearly over and 2020 is just around the corner. When did that happen?!?

Last year, right around this time, we posted our “Year-in-Review 2018” here on the blog, highlighting a ton of awesome stuff we’d done over the past year. It revealed a ton about who we were as a company, where we were going, and what we hoped to do in the future. Now that said future has come (at least a year of it!), we can look back at everything we did in 2019 and see if we accomplished what we set out to do.

Here at Fit and Fun Playscapes, we can tell you, with a resounding cry, that we accomplished all of our goals for this year … and then some after that!

Without further ado, here’s what we’ve done this year:

 

THE BLOG

We had a ton of incredible content published this year on the blog, so it was hard to pick out a select few to mention here.

Sensory Paths! What the heck are those?

Way back in January, after spending many long hours and days researching the topic of sensory pathways (and speaking to tons of experts in the fields of occupational therapy and adapted P.E.), we launched our informational blog post “Sensory Paths! What the heck are those?” with a single purpose: to provide a quick overview of what a sensory path/sensory pathway was and why it has been used, with such incredible success, for so many years. We also introduced readers to the long-held concept of sensory play, which is exactly what it sounds like: play designed to stimulate the senses. We’ve seen incredible growth in this space over the 2019 year, specifically in schools, and we’re so glad to see such an important concept finally coming into broad acceptance after years of use in the OT/Adapted P.E. space.

We know a ton of occupational therapists are happy!

Effective Sensory Path Design: A Conversation with Timothy D. Davis, Ph.D.

 

Speaking of sensory pathways, we sat down with Timothy Davis, Ph.D. CAPE, a professor of graduate and undergraduate courses at SUNY Cortland, and laid out exactly how/why a sensory pathway/sensory path works. Specifically, Dr. Davis explained how a sensory pathway is a lot more than just fun, playful stickers on the floor, and how there has to be a method to the madness for a sensory pathway to actually be a sensory path. Davis also discussed some lesser-known senses outside the OT/Adapted P.E. community, such as how tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular exercises can be incorporated into a sensory pathway to improve its effectiveness.

Teacher Appreciation Week Is Here!

Sally Schulte

We love teachers! Teachers are on the frontlines every single day, both in the classroom and out, educating our future leaders of tomorrow. Their job is incredibly rewarding (we hear all the time how it is a job of passion) but also incredibly stressful. Many teachers work multiple jobs to be able to make ends meet (as a certain wonderful person from Rochester told us) since they have to purchase many of their students’ school supplies out-of-pocket. Therefore, we didn’t feel that Teacher Appreciation Week, a national holiday that takes place in the first week of May, was enough. Instead, we turned the ENTIRE MONTH into TEACHER APPRECIATION MONTH. We spoke to some incredible women, Sally Schulte, Sue-Ellen Baez, and Karalee Peercy, and thanked them for everything they do. Their interviews shine a bright light on the passion teachers have for their work … and how they’re not properly thanked often enough.

Summertime Tips for Kids with Sensory Processing Issues

We shouted out a wonderfully well-written article by Understood.org’s Amanda Morin about why summertime is a tough time for kids with sensory processing issues, also known as SPD. Morin identified eight different ways that a parent or guardian of a child with sensory processing issues can help increase their child’s comfortability during the summer months. Summer is, after all, an incredibly sensory-rich time of the year. We added a few more points to her list, and also gave a bit of background about the identification of SPD by occupational therapist Dr. A. Jean Ayers in the 1970s.

#CLEARTHELISTS Makes Rounds on Social Media

A custom playground stencil by Fit and Fun Playscapes

Do you remember when we mentioned that teachers often have to pay for their school supplies (like pencils, paper, pens, etc.) out of pocket? Well, all of that is astoundingly expensive, especially for teachers who work in, say, the music department, and have to buy stands and booklets for their music kids. Sometimes, they even have to buy instruments. Thus #clearthelists was founded, allowing teachers to link their Amazon wishlists to social media so that others could help them out. We did our part: we donated $1,000 to the movement, providing 10 teachers with $100 each to help them clear their lists. It made us so happy to see their responses when they received their donations in the mail, but many more still needed to have their lists cleared.

Childhood Obesity: Where Are We Now?

Childhood obesity is an ongoing problem here in the United States. According to recent reports, specifically by a study from the Centers for Disease Control, 1-in-5 children are considered obese. There is no sign of a reversal in sight, and the rate of childhood obesity continues to climb … as it has for four decades. Politics seems to be a growing problem in terms of solving the childhood obesity epidemic, especially because our current policies allow pizza tomato paste to be classified as a vegetable.

And yes, we were just as shocked as you to find that out.

The Teacher Shortage Is Real. Little Is Being Done About It.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, or EPI, the United States has a serious problem. Particularly, a teacher problem. It estimates that by 2025, schools may be short by as many as 200,000 teachers if the trend does not reverse. Qualifications, low teacher pay, lack of career support and in-school pressure are all to blame. Remember that “wonderful woman from Rochester” we spoke about earlier? Well, that was Heather Taylor, a music/band teacher in the Rochester school system. We spoke to her in the article about what it’s like to be a teacher in the current school environment. She mentioned, for instance, how her budget for the entire school year is $80. For reference, a single mouthpiece for a tuba instrument runs $60.

 

“NO-SLEEP NOVEMBER”

November was a bit of a crazy month for us here at Fit and Fun. We attended four conferences in four weeks, which meant a ton of prep work, a ton of stress, plus a few sleepless nights here and there to prepare for seminars and presentations we were giving. Overall, though, we loved having all of these opportunities to show our amazing company to new people. Plus, we made so many new friends!

NYS AHPERD Southeastern Zone (SEZ) Conference

The first conference of the month took place at White Plains High School, where we met with upwards of 100 members of the NYS AHPERD Southeastern Zone. Pam, our founder, also ran a session with Steve Ciancio, a physical education teacher at Overlook Primary School in Arlington, NY, and Penny Rutledge-Cuatt, an Occupational Therapist from the Arlington Central School District. They used our Roll-Out Activities™ for the session.

We were glad to see so many of our Southeastern Zone friends present, plus all of the new ones we made.

NYS PTA 123rd Annual Convention

The same week, we headed to the 123rd Annual NYS PTA Convention in Tarrytown, where we met with PTAs from across New York State. Pam, our founder, is a former PTA mom herself, so she was super excited to meet with other leaders from across the state to hear about their experiences while sharing some of her own. We gave away a few of our products in a raffle, too, and had smaller scratch-off winners from Buffalo to Montauk!

As with the SEZ Conference, we saw some of our friends already there, plus we met a lot of new friends as well. We were also glad to see Carol Raymond, who helped us organize our booth and worked with us so wonderfully to get there!

82nd Annual NYS AHPERD Conference

We packed our bags and headed up north to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino for this annual favorite! This was the third year in a row that we attended the conference, so we were glad to provide a sensory pathway circuit in the registration area, which got LOTS of attention. We attended the conference with Dr. Tim Davis of SUNY Cortland and Alexis Abdo-Davis, and got to see their amazing presentation, “Sensory Pathways 101: Why All the HYPE?!?” on the third day. We also saw some of our old friends, like Steve Ciancio and Kevin Yarnell, while we were there!

It was a long three days, but we always enjoy the NYS AHPERD Conference. Our booth looked fantastic, plus we got a ton of interested visitors who loved our sensory pathway and wanted to find out more. Our Roll-Outs, once again, were a big hit during Tim and Alexis’s presentation. We’re looking forward to coming back again next year!

Georgia Association for Positive Behavior Support Conference

Kelly Guglietta of Newton County Schools; Todd Spring of Fit and Fun Playscapes

A few months ago, we were contacted by a behavioral specialist, Kelly Guglietta, from the Newton County Schools District in Georgia, about something really amazing she was doing with her students. She had taken our outdoor playground stencils, painted them indoors, and used the sensory walks alongside a PBIS framework at her schools. Her results, she said, were remarkable. Thus, after a few conversations, we decided to head down to Atlanta for the 2019 GAPBS Conference … and boy are we glad we did!

We learned an absolutely enormous amount of information pertaining to GAPBS and the PBIS framework in schools. We spoke to a lot of physical education teachers and behavioral specialists from across the state of Georgia who provided us with details about what their schools so desperately needed, many of which were Title-I schools. Plus, we gave away a ton of our Roll-Outs to a select group of winners! Congratulations to those who won!

Special thanks to Kelly Guglietta and Megan Buchanan from the Newton County School District. It was so wonderful to meet you both in person, and we hope to be there again next year!

OTHER NEWS

The Sensory Path Resource Center

We launched our Sensory Path Resource Center this year with the goal of creating a free hub of information for all things related to sensory paths/sensory pathways. We provide quick FAQs, including “What Is a Sensory Pathway/Sensory Path?” “What Is Sensory Play?” and “Who Created Sensory Paths/Sensory Pathways?”. All the information within the resource center was verified by Dr. Tim Davis, Ph.D., who helped us develop the page with a ton of wonderful content that can be found there. We explain how sensory pathways work, how we (Fit and Fun) can help, plus a list of the product options we offer in relation to sensory pathways/sensory paths.

The Recess Resource Center

Alexis Abdo-Davis and Tim Davis present at the 83rd Annual NYS AHPERD Convention in Verona, NY.

We’ve been in the recess/playground stencils business for ten years, so we’ve learned a thing or two along the way. That’s why we also created the Recess Resource Center this year, to serve alongside our Sensory Path Resource Center, and to provide our customers with all the information they need about how to create an effective and unique outdoor play area. We’ve offered all of that information freely on our website for years now, but we collected that information this year into a more organized space (a central hub, if you will) for easier access and navigation. Have a question about recess planning and zoning? What types of stencils you should use? Grant opportunities? It’s all there. Plus, we provide a link to our own products and services in case you’re a new customer and wondering what amazing things we offer 🙂

More Active Social Media Presence

On the right-hand side of our homepage, you’ll find links to all of our social media accounts across various different platforms. This year, we’ve made it a priority to expand our social media presence to both, A), hear more from our customers by connecting directly to them and, B), learn more through instant connections with friends across the globe. If you haven’t already, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and subscribe to us on YouTube. We frequently do giveaways on all those platforms and you need to be a follower to enter. Plus, our social media accounts are great places to reach us if you’ve got any questions or just want to say hi!

 

CONCLUSION: AN ALL-AROUND AMAZING YEAR!

We’ve worked incredibly hard this year to provide you with all of the best resources and products we can. We’ve made a ton of progress (and surpassed a company milestone!!) but we’ve still got a lot more down the pipe. New products, new games, new projects, new conventions, etc., it’s all coming. Stay tuned!

From all of us at Fit and Fun Playscapes, we wish you a happy holiday and a happy new year! See you in 2020!


Sensory paths have taken the educational world by storm, appearing in thousands of schools around the globe. Teachers and education professionals, who have long seen the need for sensory-based movements in their antsy students, have rushed to install pathways in their schools. A few teachers and occupational therapists have even designed their own sensory paths with tape and colored paper—for which we hope our Sensory Path Resource Center online research database has been of some help. But what about a reusable, stencil option?  For outdoors and indoors?

Here at Fit and Fun Playscapes, we’ve enjoyed seeing our customers experience the benefits of using our sensory and movement-based Super Stickers™ indoors and our Reusable Stencils™ outdoors.  Our creative community of schools and parks has rediscovered our Nature Activity CircuitReusable Stencil Set and many other fitness and movement-based stencils that have been popular for years and are using them both indoors and outdoors. We’ve heard your requests, seen your hard work, and in response are introducing our line of Nature Motor Sensory Path Reusable Stencils!  These versatile packages bring even more movement and sensory activities to the playground including elephant walks, bear crawls, leap frog, heel to toe and so much more. As in true Fit and Fun Playscapes spirit, we have launched 3 packaged options at different price points and you can order individual components to create your own unique patterns and sequences to suit your students needs.  As a reusable product, this is the most economical option around!

Our Nature Activity Circuit™ Reusable Playground Stencil Package, part of our brand-new outdoor Nature Motor Sensory Paths line!

Developed with Occupational Therapists, general PE Teachers and Adapted PE Teachers, our Nature Motor Sensory Path Reusable Stencils Packages include some of our most popular and versatile motor and sensory movements such as our Daisy Hopscotch™, Motor Sensory Activity Stations, Tree Pose Reusable Stencils Set, Basic Activity Stations Set and Nature Activity Circuit™ into amazing packages of stencils. Specifically designed to include activities that practice motor skills, improve motor planning, build stronger sensory connections (vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile) and assist with self-regulation, these colorful and engaging playground stencil packages can be painted over and over to create unique sensory spaces outdoors.

You can check out our brand-new outdoor sensory pathways and activities by typing in Nature Motor Sensory Paths or Motor Sensory Activity Stations in the product search bar.


Childhood Obesity: Where Are We Now?

Last year, we discovered that 43 states lacked mandatory recess policies in their schools at a time when 1-in-5 school-aged children suffer from childhood obesity. In that post, we found that only seven states—Missouri, Indiana, Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island—required, not just recommended, daily recess in their schools.

Since then, times have changed. According to an article dated March 2019 from Edutopia.org, several more states now require some form of mandatory physical activity period. Eleven—Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Iowa, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Connecticut, and Virginia—now require at least 20 minutes a day of physical activity time in their schools. However, it’s important to note that “physical activity time” does not mean “recess,” and instead could be technically filled by gym class.

States where physical activity is mandated by law (as of Sept. 2019)

The state of childhood obesity, however, is not so bright. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states that one-in-five children in the United States are obese, and it doesn’t look like that number is changing for the better anytime soon. A combination of factors, including genetics, high intake of sugary foods, neighborhood safety and too little physical activity all contribute to the growing epidemic, which has been steadily increasing for the better part of four decades.

In a recent article, Huffington Post writer Elizabeth Millard poignantly stated that “Childhood obesity has been called an epidemic, but in some ways, that’s wishful thinking. Because with an epidemic, you can usually pinpoint a cause and potential solutions. Childhood obesity is more like fighting a hundred infections at once and trying every medication you’ve got, hoping something sticks.”

Aversion To Nutritional Change In Schools (We’re Not There Yet)

Childhood obesity can’t be tackled all at once, not when an estimated 13.7 million children in the United States alone are affected. There are too many bad habits that can’t be kicked cold turkey, like our addiction to sugary drinks and snacks, and change, if it comes, will not be for a long, long time.

What’s clear is that these issues have to be tackled one at a time, and gradually, and perhaps without much help from the federal government, since, according to Harvard’s Obesity Prevention Source, politics can get in the way.

“The Department of Agriculture recently finalized comprehensive new school meal guidelines that will increase vegetables, fruit, and whole grains and curb sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat,” the guide says. “But due to political pressures, the agency was not able to fully implement the meal guidelines recommended by an expert panel at the Institute of Medicine.”

Children play hopscotch at recess

Unfortunately, there’s a whole page dedicated to politics getting in the way of meaningful and comprehensive school lunch change, including pizza tomato paste being classified as a vegetable.

Yes, that’s correct. You didn’t read that wrong. Pizza tomato paste is currently classified as a vegetable.

Unfortunately, it seems that unless school districts take meaningful nutrition reform into their own hands, reducing childhood obesity might just be a pipe dream, at best, in the foreseeable future.

How We’re Helping In The Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Fit and Fun Playscapes offers a wide variety of playground stencils, recess games and sensory path walks designed with any budget in mind, but we also offer two education resource pages. Our Sensory Path Resource Center is dedicated to all things sensory path/sensory walk-related, which we designed with the help of our friend Dr. Tim Davis, CAPE, and includes many juicy tidbits of information on how you can get your students up and moving throughout the school day. These movements, which are called “movement breaks” or “brain breaks,” aren’t just physically healthy; they’re cognitively beneficial, as well.

Our Recess Resource Center, on the same hand, is full of information pertaining to how you can create the best recess environment for your kids, whether you have access to daily recess or not. There’s also a ton of grant information on that same page, including Fuel Up to Play 60 and KaBOOM! grants, if you need a little extra boost to your budget.


What are some other ways your school fights against childhood obesity? Tell us in the comments down below and we might feature your answer!! 🙂


Effective Sensory Path Design

Timothy D. Davis, Ph.D. CAPE teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at the State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland. Some of his courses include Adapted Physical Activity and Sport, Motor Development, Instructional Strategies in APE, Inclusive Outdoor Education and Positive Behavior Management and Discipline. He has been teaching for over 20 years, and holds bachelors and masters degrees in Physical Education and Adapted Physical Education from California State University at Chico. He holds a Ph.D. in Adapted Physical Education from the University of Virginia.

At SUNY Cortland, Dr. Davis serves as director of the SUNY Cortland CHAMP/I Can Do It Afterschool Peer Mentorship Program and the Sensory Integration/Motor Integration (SIMS) program. He is the creator of Project DREAM, a learning program that helps kids and students with disabilities, and Project LEAPE, a leadership course dedicated to helping kids and adults with disabilities.

Dr. Davis’s background makes him an ideal choice to discuss proper sensory path management with. I got a chance to interview him a few weeks ago via email, and he does an excellent job breaking down a very complicated topic in sensory paths. His answers are valuable for anyone interested in the topic of sensory paths, but specifically for those who are considering setting one up in their school or community. Take a read below.


Q: What are some important elements needed for an effective sensory path?

Davis: “To think globally – we are always on a “sensory path” – no matter what we are doing.  Getting up in the morning, getting dressed, putting on our shoes, eating breakfast, brushing our teeth, walking to and from school – moving up stairs or down stairs, stepping off or on a curb, etc.  Our environment is full of sensory stimuli and this is essentially how we learn and develop. Therefore – essential elements for an actual sensory path (e.g. hallway etc) I want to make sure we have ample opportunity for the following:

  1.     Child Initiated Movement
  2.     Fundamental Motor Skills – jump, hop, leap, slide, skip, dynamic/static balance
  3.     Sensory-based elements – proprioception, vestibular, tactile, and visual.
  4.     Midline crossing activities

Dr. Davis is on right, PE teacher Amanda Tepfer in middle and Pam Gunther of Fit & Fun Playscapes at left.

Q: Why are those sensory path elements effective?

Davis“The elements listed above are effective because essentially the should emulate the sensory pathways we experience in the world around us – we can create or increase the opportunity for sensory-based activities through the pathway.  Focus on vestibular – midline crossing – tactile/proprioceptive movements – e.g. Stomp on the Log – Jump over the log – tiptoe across the log – etc.”

Q: How do you incorporate “vestibular” exercises into a sensory path design?

Davis: “Vestibular or balance is in EVERY activity we do – static or dynamic. Standing on the right foot and holding an airplane with the left leg up and arms out is one example.  More dynamic is the ability to land after jumping/hopping/leaping – before moving onto the next activity – therefore spreading the elements FAR apart is important! It’s ok if we don’t make it… we will eventually!”

Q: How do you incorporate “proprioceptive” exercises into a sensory path design?

Davis: “Proprioceptive is pressure – for example –leaning into the wall with hands – or having your back pressed against the wall is proprioception.  You can roll your body like a log on the floor – walk like a bear – elephant – etc. or knee walk – these are all examples of proprioception.”

Q: How do you incorporate “tactile” exercises into a sensory path design?

Davis: “Tactile is simply touch – with hands AND FEET – so do something barefoot – any movement – or use hands on the wall or floor – while moving – CARRY something – heavy – or dribble a basketball while moving on the path – or dribbling soccer ball. Etc.”

Q: How do you incorporate “motor planning skills” exercises into a sensory path design?

Davis: “Motor planning is always part of the sensory pathway – when you look at the path and try to think how your body will move across it or from element to element is the ability to motor plan.  Motor planning can also be implemented by using sidewalk chalk on the wall – or chalkboard as you are moving along – etc. combined skills and movements require motor planning. Children who struggle with motor planning will often be all over the place – not following the path but rather zooming all over the hallway, etc. Giving concrete visual cues and helping them to “follow the leader” is a great way to promote motor planning in young children.”

Q: Of any recess games you can think of, what are a few “good” choices that you’d suggest for parents/teachers who have those with disabilities either at home or in the classroom so that they can develop the above skills at-pace with other students?

Davis“Follow the leader as previously mentioned – everyone has their own set of unique characteristics so… I would have to know more about the child to answer specifically but ANYTHING outside moving is always good!”

Was Dr. Davis’s advice helpful for planning your own recess space? Let us know!


Originally posted 3/28/19


This Saturday, July 20, is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. In other words, it’s been half a century since man stepped foot on a world other than our own for the very first time.

Obviously, that’s huge. There will be a ton of live events celebrating the achievement, which can be found over at NASA’s official 50th anniversary page. Some include museums, others live streamable events or television specials.

To (sort of) match Apollo 11’s great achievement, we wanted to prepare something special here at Fit and Fun Playscapes, something we’ve been working hard to perfect. You could say it’s a little of our own Apollo 11, if you will.

Our sensory path stickers line, Super Stickers, have been doing so well and getting such great praise from our customers that we wanted to add a third set to our already popular Nature Path and Sensory Sidekicks sticker sets. We don’t even have a name for it yet, but in honor of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, we wanted to give you a little taste.

 

 

 

 

We don’t have an estimated release date yet on this set, but our excellent graphic designer Michelle is working hard to roll them out soon. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend, and make sure to celebrate the 50th anniversary!

 

(c) Fit and Fun Playscapes, LLC 2011-2019 All rights reserved. You are expressly not permitted to copy any of the text or images on this website without permission from Fit and Fun Playscapes LLC.  All infringement cases will be prosecuted to the fullest extent permissible by law.


Here at Fit and Fun Playscapes, we love to innovate. The creation of new sensory path designs is a passion of ours, and so we’re pleased to announce a brand-new line. Introducing Sensory Sidekicks!

Sensory Sidekicks brings our cutest pals ever into the sensory path space. Let your kids jump and hop with our Tree Hopscotch, Frog Set, and Leap Frog Word; spring left and right with our Left-Right Ice Cream Cross-Midline. In addition, tip-toe with our Tiptoe Octopus or hang out with our Sidekick Buddies. It’s a sensory path party!

Developed with adapted PE teachers and occupational therapists, our Sensory Sidekicks line is just the newest addition to our extensive Super Stickers™ sensory path products. Now that the summer season is officially on us (the summer solstice is June 21!), now is the perfect time to upgrade your hallways, classrooms, floors, and walls with our wonderful path products. And remember, sensory paths aren’t only beneficial for children with sensory processing issues: they’re also great brain break and alternative gym class activities.

WHYY.org published a fascinating piece on the long-lasting effects that children who are made fun of in gym class experience. Titled “Fixing the Nightmare Gym Class Can Be For Some Kids,” the piece discusses how some PE teachers are allowing kids and young adults to choose how they spend their active gym time. Some kids, for instance, can run on the track if they wish; others can play a game of volleyball or badminton. As long as the children are being physically active, gym class is up to them. This is where our Sidekicks (and indeed, our entire Super Stickers line) can help. Why not set up one of our hopscotches in the hallway just outside of the gym, or even in the gym itself?

Have any questions about spacing, or perhaps even a custom design idea? We can help!


It’s been a while since we offered a custom design with our Super Stickers product line. This week, we have another small one for ya, perfect for a quick brain break once school comes back into session!

Areas

All you need is a corner, be it in a classroom or a coat room. The space does not need to be large, or even empty. That’s the great thing about our Super Stickers line; they’re easy to place and look great anywhere.

Products

Layout

The layout here is meant to be simple, but effective. The point of a brain break is to maximize movement in the shortest amount of time, no more than five or 10 minutes. Therefore, the products that make up the brain break shouldn’t be complicated: a few Super Stickers in a few places will do the trick.

Design

Have the kids cycle through the brain break in turns. The brain break itself can be laid out in two ways: one, like an activity circuit, or two, like activity stations. For this design, we’ll use the activity circuit layout.

Place the Sticker Jumping Jacks Super Sticker first in the line. Have the kids start with 10 jumping jacks, but increase as necessary for age and fitness level. Next, place the Sticker Squats. Have them do another 10, but as fast as they can. The point here is to get the blood pooling in the legs, which increases fatigue and starts “the burn.” Immediately after the squats, place the Sticker Lunges, followed at last by the Sticker Wall Push-Up Set – 24 pieces on the nearest wall! When they’re finished, have them cycle through the set again and again until the brain break is up.

How to Use

Really simple! Just have the kids run through the design like an activity circuit, taking turns in groups of five or six. Have them cycle through the design multiple times in rapid succession, increasing their heart rate and getting the blood pumping. Allow each group five or ten minutes, preferably in the morning or a few hours after lunch.

Just make sure they’ve had enough time to digest all their food!

 


In a wonderful article from Understood.org, an organization that helps parents with kids with learning disabilities, author Amanda Morin discusses a relevant topic that gets little to no attention. “Summer is a time for relaxing,” she writes. “But some of the sounds, smells, and sensations that come with the fun can overwhelm kids with sensory processing issues.”

Sensory processing issues, also known as Sensory Processing Disorder, is a condition where the brain has trouble receiving and responding properly to sensory input signals like touch or sound. The condition affects both children and adults and may manifest itself in a wide range of symptoms. In children, symptoms of a sensory processing issue may include sudden temper-tantrums or crying fits at seemingly common sounds, like a door shutting or a dog barking. Children with sensory processing issues may also recoil in disgust and vomit at certain food textures, scream when touched, or even frequently bump into walls or people.

First identified in the 1970s by occupational therapist Dr. A. Jean Ayers, sensory processing issues do not just affect the five common senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, sound — but seven. Ayers identified two more senses — proprioceptive and vestibular senses — which Dr. Tim D. Davis broke down magnificently in a guest blog post about effective sensory path design right here on the Fit and Fun website.

During the summer months, when everyone is outside and enjoying the nice weather, parents who have kids with these special sensitivities often find themselves overwhelmed. Morin identifies eight ways that parents with kids with sensory processing issues can “challenge” themselves, but we’ve decided to add a few more to her wonderful list.

 

  • Sit on the grass. Because kids with sensory processing issues can become easily overwhelmed by the pricking sensation of grass on the skin, especially when it gets hot, pick a cool spot in the shade. Let your child run their hands first through the grass until they’re comfortable. Then, if able, have them take their shoes off!
  • Limit sun exposure. Summer gets hot! Sometimes, kids with sensory processing issues can become easily agitated under the hot sun, especially at the beach or during a sporting event. If you’re one of the estimated 60 million Americans who will go to the beach this summer, make sure to bring an umbrella or two. Better yet, bring a tent specially designed to keep kids cool and relaxed. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • The quieter the better. Kids with sensory processing issues can often become suddenly overwhelmed by seemingly everyday noises. The sound of a motorcycle, the clunk-clunk of feet on a boardwalk, can change a calm day into a nightmare scenario for parents in the briefest moments. If your options are limited, try to get away from the crowds as best as you can.

Do you have a child with sensory processing disorder? If so, what are some precautions you take when going out? Let us know!


As final tests and exams roll in with the warming months (it’s June already; can you believe it?!) kids will be studying well after the final school bell. Some kids have the luxury of after-school programs, sensory paths or local organizations, like open gym or local youth sports leagues, but many do not, particularly in urban or underdeveloped areas. Yet it is still vitally important that kids get enough exercise, and not just for the physical benefits.

exercise

Your Classroom with Super Stickers!

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is an absolute link between academic test scores and outdoor activity. They found that “There is substantial evidence that physical activity can help improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores,” according to the paper, which included data from more than 50 studies. As a result, in a section titled “Implications for Policy,” the CDC states, “Increasing or maintaining time dedicated to physical education may help, and does not appear to adversely impact, academic performance.”

In other words, the data indicates that as long as the child is getting some form of physical activity, there is a positive correlation with increased test scores—something every parent loves to see. But it’s important that schools, specifically, provide such activities. Schools, after all, can’t be in a child’s home after the bell gets out. By providing regular access to recess, schools can ensure that their students are getting at least an hour of exercise per day. Be it by offering daily access to recess—which is currently lacking in 43 states—or after-school programs like open gym, here are just a few ways your school might do so:

Testing is an important part of the academic year, and final exams are here. Make sure your students are being given the greatest opportunity they can to succeed by providing daily exercise!


Our Roll-Out Recess Games To Go line has always been a customer favorite for its versatility. High-quality vinyl, non-slip material and easy, roll-up storage have assured schools and teachers that kids were always going to get a fit and fun recess, rain or shine. Now, we’re proud to add to our Roll-Out Recess Games To Go selection with a brand new line, Roll-Out Essentials!

The appeal of Roll-Out Essentials is simple: designed with the help of PE teachers, occupational therapists, and kids, the Roll-Out Essentials line brings the power of sensory pathways and physical education with you on-the-go! Now, you can roll-out a sensory pathway on your classroom, hallway, or gymnasium floor and ensure your kids are building all those proper connections in the brain! We’re glad to include the following portable recess games in our brand-new sensory paths line:

Each of the sensory path games can be purchased individually, or they can be purchased all together in a set. Sets can be fun too because they can be mixed and matched with one another each time they’re used, so your kids never have to use the same sensory path twice! Why not, for instance, connect the Bear Crawl, Crab Crawl and Elephant Walk with the Heel-Toe and Toe-Heel for a sensory path that works agility, balance, and hand-eye coordination?

But that’s not all. We’ve also added a few of our popular outdoor recess stencils to the new Essentials line, brought to you with physical education in mind. Our new fitness-minded Roll-Out Games include portable versions of our Activity Stations stencil line, such as our Roll-Out Essential Burpees, Roll-Out Essential Figure 8, and Roll-Out Essential Jumping Jacks. But there’s also our Roll-Out Essential Lunges, Roll-Out Essential Plank, Roll-Out Essential Sit-Ups, and Roll-Out Essential Squats. Each of these Roll-Out Recess Games ensures your kids are also getting a good muscle workout, even indoors. The Burpees, Lunges, and Squats should be placed together for an extra-tough leg workout!

What do you think about our new Essential line? Let us know!