In recent years, the development of sensory rooms in schools has exploded. Sensory rooms are dynamic spaces designed to engage, soothe, and stimulate students' senses. These rooms are often seen as safe havens for students; a quiet place where students can retreat in moments of stress or anxiety to regulate their emotions, or to unwind and focus.
We've rounded up 10 sensory room ideas schools must try to outfit a sensory sanctuary students will love. From vibrant visual displays to calming tactile experiences, these ideas are designed to cater to a range of sensory preferences.
The gentle rhythm of rocking releases endorphins, which help to boost mood and reduce stress. Plus, rocking stimulates the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. Floor rockers are easy to move, easily accessible and ideal for students who crave sensory input.
A tactile learning wall is a large panel that adheres to a wall and features multiple textures and interactive pieces for student engagement. Tactile walls help reinforce hand-eye coordination, concentration, color recognition and visual perception with various toys and other attached items. Pro tip: install multiple walls next to each other for an interactive experience students can enjoy together!
Balance stools feature rounded bases that let students quietly rock, sway, wiggle, and tilt. Their backless design helps strengthen core muscles and promotes proper posture. Lightweight and easy to move, balance stools let students get their wiggles out without disrupting others and are available in many sizes and colors.
A plush calming rug brings the look of any sensory room together, plus provides a comfortable space for students to lie or sit right on the floor. Our Sprogs sensory rugs feature vivid, photorealistic scenes of nature like ocean waves, forest floor, clouds and more. Plus, they're skid and fade resistant.
Sound walls allow students to make music or produce mesmerizing sounds and colors simply by touch. A sound wall can help develop hand-eye coordination, cause-and-effect skills, color recognition and much more. Most feature multiple modes of play and plug right into a standard outlet for ease of use.
For students who are easily overwhelmed by noise, try offering sound reduction devices like noise- canceling earmuffs sound-absorbing partitions. Most earmuffs block up to 27 decibels of sound, and feature adjustable, padded headbands for a customized fit. Mobile, sound-absorbing partitions can be used to section off nap areas or quiet meditation spaces.
Weighted blankets or lap pads provide a gentle, even pressure across the body, releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety. Students with sensory processing disorders may use weighted blankets or pads to regulate their sensory input, for example, while others may use them to improve focus and reduce restlessness.
Bubble tubes provide rich sensory experiences with lights, colors, and bubbles. Students can watch the bubbles slowly ascend the tube and change color to unwind and refocus. Pair the tube with soothing music or place it in front of a mirror for the ultimate sensory show! Choose a portable bubble tube to easily move it from one space to another or mount it onto a special cushioned base that doubles as a seat.
Mobile activity tables provide the perfect surface for students to enjoy calming activities like coloring or journaling. Consider activity tables with whiteboard tops – students can write encouraging or inspirational messages for others right on the tabletop! Durable casters make it easy even for students to move the tables out of the way for other activities.
No sensory room is complete without an array of sensory toys and activities. From Playfoam sets and fidget spinners to space-themed sensory kits, there's something for everyone. Keeping a variety of toys on hand that cater to a range of sensory preferences will ensure everyone can reap the benefits of your sensory sanctuary.