Whether it’s a sensory corner or a sensory shelf, creating a sensory area in the classroom is a great way to help your students calm down, refocus, and get back on track.
But what do you put it in?
We asked the amazing teachers in our group, Mrs. D’s VIPs, to share with us some of their best tips and tricks for creating a sensory-friendly classroom that all of your students will enjoy!
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What to Include in Your Sensory Area
There are a lot of different things that you can include in your sensory area, but the most effective items are the ones that speak to your students’ needs. Taking the time to figure out what they need and then offering that in the sensory area creates an atmosphere of acceptance and caring.
Here are some things that might work for your students:
A small trampoline with a handlebar is a great option for your students who need to move. While it’s not typically thought of for a sensory area, it can be a huge help for those students who are more active.
There’s something deeply soothing about being rocked. For students who need calming, curling up on a rocking chair can give them the quiet comfort that they need to be able to refocus.
3. A Swing
Much like a rocking chair, a swing is a great addition to any sensory area. It doesn’t have to be fancy or go high, but the gentle movement allows students to recenter and move on with their day.
Curl up, sink in, and relax with the help of a comfortable bean bag chair. The beauty of bean bag chairs is that you can switch out the covers as needed. If having them be easy to clean is a necessity, opt for a smooth, vinyl cover. If you would rather toss the cover in the washing machine, a soft fabric or faux fur covering might be a good sensory option.
5. Bubble Tubes
Bubble tubes give students a focal point that’s both calming and captivating. The gentle motion of the bubbles inside the tube can help students quickly calm themselves.
6. Lava Lamp
Much like bubble tubes, lava lamps are quietly hypnotic and grounding. They come in all colors and sizes so that can fit in any designated sensory area.
7. Bubble Wrap
Who doesn’t love the texture and pop of bubble wrap?! While you can purchase giant rolls to use year-round, ask coworkers, family, and friends to save the bubble wrap that they get in packages.
8. Quiet Music
(Pro Tip: Store the headphones in an over-the-door shoe holder organizer with clear pockets. Label each pocket with students’ names!)
9. Fidget Toys
There are many different types of fidget toys that can be included in a sensory area of the classroom! From squishy balls to thinking putty, the best toys are going to be the ones that engage your students the most.
10. Wobble Stools
Designed to help students get their wiggles out and be able to focus, wobble stools are a great addition to a classroom’s sensory area. They come in different colors and heights, so you can get the ones that work best for your students.
11. A Sensory Wall
Create a sensory wall for your classroom by adhering switches, knobs, latches, locks, and textured tiles to a piece of drywall or smooth wood. There are endless possibilities for what to include! Don’t feel like making one? Get a pre-made sensory wall!
Creating a sensory area in the classroom honors your students’ needs and gives them a place where it’s safe to calm down.
No matter what you include, be sure to set ground rules and expectations about how the materials should be treated and when the area can be used.
What are your favorite items to put in a sensory area for students? Tell us in the comments below!