Having a sensory space in your classroom provides students with a quiet and calm area to re-focus. Sometimes all a student needs is something to distract them from the current environment/situation in order to reset the brain for the task at hand.
As a teacher, if you notice a student needs to have a break in order to calm down or be energized, having a designated space in your classroom for the student to go can be a lifesaver. Here are some suggestions for items to include:
- A space with designated barriers
- Furniture such as rugs, pillows, bean bags, and seat cushions
- Blankets or curtains to block lighting, if wanted
- Sensory items such as fidget spinners, tactile balls, fidget balls, and other objects
- Posters or signs that give simple instructions for students to use the space
- Posters or signs with mindfulness techniques listed
The freedom for students to use the space does not come without responsibility. Outline expectations for students who want to use the space. Can more than one student use it at a time? What is the maximum amount of time a student may use it? How should the pieces of equipment and furniture be used?
You can find sensory space solutions like bean bag chairs, fidget busters, and light filters from Moving Minds. Add to your space with donations from students and their families if they have items they’re looking to get rid of. Happy designing!
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.