Training Info

Zoom Trainings in October 2020

We had to cancel our planned training sessions for March and May 2020 due to Covid-19. We have now decided to try “Zoom” trainings as a way to offer help to pre-schools and day care programs who are struggling with how to keep children safe, but still let them play and move. These sessions are set up for teachers, day care providers and parents who are looking for new ideas they can use every day. Every center and family represented will receive free toys donated through this project

How Do We Play Now?
Understanding Sensory Motor Processing in Young Children in COVID Times

Sign up link below:

Course Description

Session 1 – We will discuss how sensory motor play provides the foundations for brain development in young children. We will explore the connections between the sensory motor processing and emotional processing and how the interplay promotes regulation, relationships, learning ,attention, and behavior.

Session 2 – We will discuss how to keep kids moving, playing and getting what they need within social distancing limits. The workshop will include simple games and activities that can be used in child care centers (and at home) to keep children active and moving and getting their sensory needs met. Each child care center or family represented will also receive free toys and equipment to use through a grant from “Charlie’s Toys”

Administrators, Curriculum Directors, Early Educators, Paraprofessionals, Principals, Specialists, Teachers; Grades PK-K, parents


3 Training Hours

Date and Location

This three-hour, fully online workshop is offered on Zoom. If you have not used Zoom before, please review these participant instructions.

October 6, 2020; 6:30pm – 8:00pm
October 13, 2020; 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Practice Session: October 27, 2020; 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Practice Sessions are an additional optional session, included in many of our workshops this year at no additional cost. These facilitated sessions will deepen and broaden the learning from the workshop by offering a place for Q&A and to share and reflect on the information learned, attendee experiences related to the topic, resources, and challenges or successes with integrating the new knowledge into your practice.

Cost and Registration

The cost of the workshop is $55. Please register online.

Registration Deadline: Sept 29


Tom Murphy
Tom Murphy, MS, OTR/L, ATP, has worked with pre-school children for more than 45 years. He has worked as a pediatric OT at Cooley Dickinson since 1995, with a special interest in children ages 3-5. He worked for many years as a consultant for pre-schools in Holyoke, screening children for motor development and developing games and activities to help improve motor skills.

Arlene Spooner
Arlene Spooner, PT, has worked for over 30 years in Early Intervention as a physical therapist. She has also provided PT services in public schools, and in outpatient pediatrics in Cooley Dickinson Hospital.


This is the flyer that describes the training program that I have developed in collaboration with Arlene Spooner, covering  motor development for young children.  We can be reached at for more information. Our five hour training is now certified for CEU’s by the Massachusetts Association for the Education of young Children (MAEYC)


Sensory and Motor Development in Young Children (birth to five and how to help!!!)

What is typical sensory and motor development?
What do “sensory” and “motor” have to do with each other?
What does sensorimotor development have to do with behavior and learning?
Are some of the behavioral challenges you deal with everyday related to sensorimotor issues?
What kinds of games and activities help to support sensorimotor development?

Participants will learn
• Sensory motor processing and its impact on behavior and learning
• ways to recognize when there may be problems or delays,
• learning strategies including games and activities that can help when a child is having difficulty
• how certain problem behaviors may be related to a child’s difficulty with sensorimotor development.

Arlene Spooner, PT CEIS
Tom Murphy, MS/ OTR/L
The training workshop described below is now certified for 5 hours of continuing education credits by the Massachusetts Association for the Education of YOung Children (MAEYC).

The workshop is run by two long time pediatric therapists, and is intended for pre-school teachers, day care providers and parents interested in how sensory motor development impacts on young children. We provide hands on strategies to add and expand opportunities for active motor play in day care and pre-school settings, while providing the clinical background providers need to understand why it is so crucial to allow children opportunities to move and explore every day.

Arlene Spooner, PT and Tom Murphy, MS OTR/L have each run training workshops for many years, and have recently teamed up for this joint training workshop that covers sensory motor development from birth to age 5. Arlene Spooner has worked as a physical therapist in early intervention programs for 30 years, while Tom Murphy has specialized in working among pre-school age children in different capacities more than for 40 years.

Please contact Tom Murphy at for more information on these training sessions


The Importance of Sensory and Motor Development in Infants and Young Children
(And how to help!)

Participant outcomes:

Participant will be able to:

• Understand the role of the central nervous system in sensory and motor development in children from infant to age 5
• Understand how sensory motor development impacts behavior and learning
• Devise and implement games and activities to help support sensory motor development
• Describe how specific behavioral challenges that are seen in young children are related to sensory motor development and may require outside referral
• Identify how cultural, economic and social conditions can impact opportunities for children to be active and moving


Part 1- 2.5 hrs total

Introduction- agenda and goals –definition of sensory motor development- no more than 15 minutes-

Lecture/ Discussion/ Slides and Handouts; Part 1- Infant to age 3 (30 minutes) an overview of infant brain development and how this relates to early sensory and motor development and learning
• Infant development- how to infants learn about the world through their senses and through movement; sensory processing
• Review of sensory receptors, eyes, ears, touch, movement
• Neuro anatomy of sensory processing: structures and function
• Neurophysiology: neurochemicals where they come from and how to get them. ( eat sleep move)
• Developmental reflexes and their role in development.

Break- 15 minutes

Small group activity- (30 minutes) use handout: Experience developmental reflexes

Lecture/ discussion/ slides and video- (30 minutes) Postural muscle tone and core strength in infants and children

• Identifying infants and children with low muscle tone
• Impact of the environment on the development of postural muscle tone
• The importance of tummy time.
• Simple strategies to help babies enjoy tummy time.
• Identifying who may need extra help or may require referral for outside services

Summary Discussion – Connecting infant development to sensory motor development in children from age 3-5 (45 minutes); Why moving makes a difference at every age

• Why motor development is so crucial to early cognitive and pre-academic learning
• Factors that are impacting how much time children spend moving and exercising during each day- at home and at pre-school; across social, economic and cultural boundaries
• Efforts to insure safety in preschools that are impacting on opportunities for active play and exercise
• Creating opportunities for children to move and exercise every day, regardless of whether it is possible to play outside
• Behaviors that indicate a child who needs more opportunity to move and exercise
• How movement and learning about the world through the body support other learning
• Simple activities that can be built into daily routines to increase opportunities for movement and exercise in the classroom
• How gross motor (large muscle) skills support the development of fine motor (hand skills) in young children


Part 2- 2.5 hrs total

Reflection to Session 1; Why we need to move; Safe and Sedentary is not the answer!!

Demonstration/ Participation- How to get kids moving, and how to get them to stop moving (30 minutes)

• Using simple Yoga stretches and postures with young kids to improve postural muscle tone , build core muscle strength and body awareness
• Using the breath to improve postural muscle tone, core muscle strength, body awareness, attention, and speech.
• Using stability balls to build postural tone and core muscle strength.
• Simple strategies to help with development of visual skills needed for visual tracking and visual processing
• Using simple fine motor activities to build dexterity and hand skills appropriate to specific age levels and development- i.e. they can’t write till they know where their hands are!!
• Accommodations for children of differing levels of motor skills are included

Small group activity- (45 minutes) participants join in simple gross motor/ fine motor activities using simple, safe and low cost props and equipment

Break- 15 minutes

Lecture/ Video/ discussion: Visual development infants and children (30 minutes)

• Video of normal eye movements
• Looking at normal eye movements with a partner
• What happens in the visual system as the body moves
• Impact of visual motor coordination on learning and development.

Lecture and Question and Answer period- Identifying specific motor delays and concerns- 45 minutes
• How Autism, PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay) , torticollis (stiffness in the neck muscles) , plagiocephaly (flattened head syndrome), toe-walking, and other specific conditions relate to overall motor development
• Common sensory motor problems and when is outside help needed


Arlene Spooner PT CEIS is a physical therapist has worked with children for over 30 years in early intervention, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and in local schools. Areas of interest are infant motor development, sensory processing, early learning and behavior

Tom Murphy MS OTR/L has worked with pre-school children for more than 40 years; including as a pediatric OT at Cooley Dickinson since 1995, with a special interest in children ages 3-5. He has worked for many years as a consultant for pre-schools in Holyoke, screening children for motor development and developing games and activities to help improve motor skills for this age group. He founded the Bogin Playscape Project in 2011 to design and develop innovative indoor play equipment for pre-school centers

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