OBJECTIVE. Movement throughout the day in the school setting may help support skills such as time on task, and academics. This study examined the impact of sensory-based movement activities on academic learning. In addition, the teacher and student perceptions of the activities were analyzed.

METHOD. A mixed method design followed students in six classrooms during intervention (three classrooms) and control (three classrooms) (N = 135) with results based on participation in pre and posttest scores on STAR reading and math and DIBELS assessments. Students in the intervention group participated in six sensory-based movement activities, twice daily, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Each activity was categorized as either energizing, activating, or restoring/regrouping.

RESULTS. Results indicated the intervention group trended toward higher positive changes in all results as compared to the control group, although the differences were not statistically significant. The students’ perceptions of the movement activities’ effect on work completion, ease of learning, and overall enjoyment were very positive. The teachers perceived the program to have positive results as well, but had concerns regarding behavior during the activities and the transition back to learning after movement breaks.

CONCLUSION. This study found that the use of sensory-based movement activities has the potential to influence academic outcomes and supported this program as a Tier 2 intervention. Teachers and students perceived the intervention to be effective and engaging. Occupational therapists can provide training and efficiently embed these types of activities into classrooms in collaboration with general education teachers.

Publication Place

Tacoma, Washington


University of Puget Sound

Faculty Advisor

Yvonne Swinth, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Committee Chairperson

Publication Date



Electronic Thesis





Degree Program

Occupational Therapy

Degree Level



Occupational Therapy


University of Puget Sound

T3Anderson (dragged).pdf (60 kB)
Thesis Approval