10 Easy Ideas for a Sensory Corner in the Classroom  (2024)

Published: August 9, 2022

Create a simple sensory area or corner in the classroom with 5 easy steps and 10+ sensory tools and equipment ideas for young children through older kids.

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Having a sensory area in a classroom can help lots of students calm down, focus, and learn more easily. As an occupational therapist, I’ve helped teachers set up sensory corners in their classroom or at least incorporate some sensory ideas into the classroom with my expertise in sensory processing.

It’s important that these sensory areas aren’t obtrusive or distracting, but support kids with known sensory issues, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Autism, or ADHD, as well as kids without any diagnosis or specific sensory issues.

Because using sensory tools, toys, and strategies stimulate every child’s development and self-regulation.

While teachers aren’t traditionally trained in sensory processing or learn sensory activities, there’s a powerful place for them in the classroom, where children spends large portions of their day.

But, including a sensory area in a classroom can be simple. If you’re a teacher, I’m applauding you right now for learning about how to incorporate a sensory space into your classroom.

If you’re a parent, you can use this guide to share with your child’s teacher (see the buttons at the bottom of the post), and possibly help them set it up in their classroom.

What is a Sensory Corner in a Classroom?

A sensory corner or area in a classroom is a place for children to engage in sensory experiences that calm or stimulate them so they can function at their highest ability in school.

These areas may include a quiet space where kids can retreat for a few minutes, some sensory equipment, or a space for sensory movement.

The space can be small or a large area in the classroom and can cost nothing or have therapeutic sensory tools. And, it’s appropriate for early childhood classrooms through elementary school, and in some cases, beyond.

Some schools will designate a specific sensory classroom, which usually includes a budget, and might mimic an pediatric occupational therapy treatment room. They’re often filled with sensory equipment and children can either use it on request or build it into their schedule to spend time in the sensory room.

However, even if a school has a multi-sensory room, there’s still great benefits in having a sensory area in each classroom. Here’s why…

Why Every Single Classroom Could Use a Sensory Area

With high percentages of children having autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder as well as various other developmental disorders and physical disabilities, sensory activities are known to help kids self-regulate which ultimately improves their academic performance and socialization skills.

While a sensory corner is especially important for a special education teacher to consider, every classroom has children with sensory needs in it.

It’s easy for their needs to fly under the radar, or be seen as misbehavior.

Moreover, sensory processing is the foundation for all learning and sensory stimuli is beneficial and can be a coping strategy for all kids.

How to Create a Sensory Area in a Classroom

Creating a sensory area is easier than you might think, and when set up well, it will have a positive impact on the classroom environment. Here’s how you can create one:

Step #1: Find or Make a Space in the Classroom

Look for some free space in the classroom, a corner often works well that is dedicated to a sensory area so that students’ needs can be met. It doesn’t have to be a very large area, but having it somewhat away from the main activity of the classroom would be helpful so that kids feel like it’s a safe space when they’re overwhelmed or dysregulated.

Step #2: Eliminate Visual Clutter

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Image from School Specialty Canada

While it’s helpful to have charts, posters, and schedules posted, when the walls are covered it can quickly overwhelm any child, and especially one that’s at sensory overload. Less is more when you’re setting a sensory area in a classroom in terms of visual stimulation, try these visual sensory activities for kids who have trouble with visual processing..

Step #3: Use Barriers

In order for the sensory area to feel like a safe space and reduce sensory input that can be over stimulating, you’ll want to add a pop up tent, fabric tent, hanging tent (like the one shown above), or you can even drape your own old sheet creatively to make a fort.

Another option is to rearrange book cases or other furniture in the classroom to naturally create these barriers.

Step #4: Add in Sensory Seating

Think about having a wobble cushion, some pillows, a bean bag chair, exercise balls, or a rocking chair to your sensory area, all of which give sensory input. The example above used some pillows in a baby pool to help define the area and create a specific place to sit.

I also love these small rocking egg chairs that stack together, my oldest son’s 2nd grade teacher had these in her reading nook and the kids loved them. But, a hand me down rocking chair may work too, depending on your space and the size of the kids in the classroom.

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Step #5: Have Sensory Equipment and Tools Available

The sensory equipment that you add can be minimal or more sophisticated depending your budget. Having a tent or covering is certainly part of the equipment, but there are some other types of sensory tools you might want to include. Remember not to over do it though.

In the next section, I’ve listed lots of options to consider, including some DIY versions if the teacher doesn’t have much of a budget. These items are also great to add to a teachers wish list, if one is available.

Some of my kid’s teachers have asked to buy a gift for the classroom when a child’s birthday rolls around instead of sending in favors. Any of these ideas below would be great to offer as suggestions!

10 Sensory Ideas for the Classroom

Add any or several of these sensory tools to your sensory corner in the classroom:

1. Body Sock – Inexpensive and barely taking up space in a room, kids can climb into the large stretchy pillowcase that is a body sock. As they spread their arms and legs they get lots of calming proprioceptive and vestibular input. See our complete guide to body socks.

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2. Vibrating Handheld Massager – Less than 10 bucks, vibration is super sensory stimulation that can help calm some kids down quick. Start a basket with a few small sensory toys and put this in it. Students can decide if they want to hold it or rub on their arms or legs when they’re in the sensory corner.

3. Jellyfish Lamp – You’ll want to consider adding something that’s calming visually for kids to look at. I love these jellyfish lamps (my kids have them) because you can switch between a variety of colors and if it accidentally spills, it’s just water. Lava lamps are also cool, but they get very hot and are unsafe for kids to touch. If you have a big budget, you could also consider bubble tubes.

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4. Stress Balls – Squeezing a stress ball gives kids an appropriate way to get the proprioceptive input they’re often seeking when they keep getting out of their chair, bounce up and down, or hit other kids. Put some of these in the sensory area of the classroom too.

5. Fidget Toys – There are a plethora of different fidget toys, each offering their own advantages. Consider what the teacher is willing to have in the sensory corner of their classroom and go from there. Fidget spinners can help kids calm down, as well as the popular pop-it style, but the latter does make a noise.

6.Lap Pad – A weighted pillow that can be laid across a child’s lap also gives proprioceptive input. You can buy one or easily make one from a large sock filled with dry beans too! Learn more about the best lap pads.

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7. Mini Trampoline – If there’s ample space in the sensory area, include a small mini trampoline with a handle. It can help kids that are sensory seekers get the movement they need.

8. Noise Canceling Headphones – Some kids that are sensory avoiders will be looking for a safe place when they head to the sensory corner. Having noise canceling headphones available will give them the break from sensory information they’re looking for.

9. Sensory Bag – Another way to stimulate visually is to have a look and find bag made from some hair gel and small treasures. Making a few could even be a classroom project. Get a DIY tutorial here.

10. Gel Floor Tiles – If you have a bigger budget, the gel colored floor tiles could be a great addition to your sensory area as well. Line them up as stepping stones on the way to the sensory corner in a classroom or use them as the floor!

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More Sensory Ideas for the Classroom

There are a wide range of different needs in any classroom environment, but besides having a sensory corner, you can use a few other sensory ideas through the school day:

  • Movement Breaks – Incorporate movement breaks into your day at regular intervals. Look for times when students can stretch their legs, do a few yoga poses together, or watch a Go Noodle video. Get more classroom movement break ideas!
  • Heavy Work Activities – Anytime kids can help carry, push, or move heavy objects, they’re getting proprioceptive input that can help calm them. If you need to move desks and it’s age appropriate, let students help. Get more heavy work activity ideas.
  • Sensory Diet Cards – For kids with specific needs, you may want to use sensory diet cards to help them choose from several sensory activities that they may need either at scheduled points throughout the day or when they begin to struggle to focus or get overstimulated. Get a set of cards here.
  • Always Have Recess – Avoid ever taking away kids’ recess, getting the chance to move, be outside, or even in inclement weather, having a chance to relax is critical for most kids sensory system. Don’t use taking away recess as a punishment ever as it’s detrimental to sensory and emotional regulation.

Follow us on Pinterest for more great ideas! And, to learn more about which students have sensory needs grab our 21 sensory red flags printable here!

More Sensory Classroom Ideas

13 Easy Sensory Strategies for the Classroom

Sensory Self Regulation: A Critical Skill for Kids with Sensory “Issues”

How to Keep Kids Focused for Online School

7 Tips to Get Picky Eaters Eating the School Lunch

Alisha Grogan is a licensed occupational therapist and founder of Your Kid’s Table. She has over 18 years experience with expertise in sensory processing and feeding development in babies, toddlers, and children. Alisha also has 3 boys of her own at home. Learn more about her here.

10 Easy Ideas for a Sensory Corner in the Classroom  (2024)


What are some classroom ideas for sensory corner? ›

How to Create a Calm Down Corner in the Classroom
  • Use Calming Colors. ...
  • Incorporate Emotional Awareness. ...
  • Provide Headphones. ...
  • Set Rules and Expectations. ...
  • Include Seating. ...
  • Provide Fidgets and Other Sensory Items. ...
  • Include Books to Help Kids Navigate Emotions. ...
  • Add Art Materials.
Nov 21, 2023

What items are needed for a sensory corner? ›

Items include mindfulness cards, calming wheels, sensory dough, books, yoga kits, weighted lap pads, breathing board, pillows, seating and a canopy.

How do you build a sensory area in a classroom? ›

Below are seven tips for designing, devel- oping, and successfully opening an effective sensory room in your school:
  1. Assign, label, and promote the space. ...
  2. Use calming colors and lighting. ...
  3. Use carpet or mats to cover floors/walls. ...
  4. Add sensory/therapy room posters. ...
  5. Make sensory equipment available. ...
  6. Start slowly.

What are the 5 sensory play? ›

In this article, we'll give you some ideas to help early learners explore their sense of touch, sight, smell, sound and taste. While of course we know there are more than five senses, these are the easiest ones to set up inside a classroom. So we'll keep things simple and stick with those.

What do you put in a calm corner? ›

Try designating a corner in a typically quiet room in your home as your child's new calm down corner. Fill the space with a soft rug or mat, bean bag chair, or other plush options for sitting or lying down, and with some of your child's favorite books, stuffed animals or quiet toys.

What do you put in a school sensory room? ›

However, the environment of a sensory room may allow these students to learn at their own pace. Equipped with things such as bean bags, mirrors, mats, cushions, lights and toys, the stimulating learning environment of a sensory room may offer an opportunity for each student to thrive.

What makes a good sensory toy? ›

Sensory toys are designed to stimulate a child's five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. They might include elements such as bright, contrasting colors, sounds, or different textures. These toys are meant to help children develop their senses in a safe and natural environment using play.

What is a sensory area in classrooms? ›

A sensory space is a designated area within a school which can support a student's sensory preferences and needs. It is a space which aims to provide students with the individualised sensory input they need to self-regulate, so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others.

What are sensory items? ›

A sensory toy is one that is specially designed to stimulate one or more of the senses. Sensory toys may be more appealing to children on the spectrum because they can help the child remain calm and provide the sensory experience they want.

What is the best color for a sensory room? ›

White can be used to lighten your sensory room and encourage quiet. Blue: All shades of blue are soothing. It connects us to holistic thoughts. Blue mats are great for using on floors as they are easy to clean and encourage kids to come in and play.

What is inside a sensory room? ›

A sensory room is a specially designed room which combines a range of stimuli to help individuals develop and engage their senses. These can include lights, colours, sounds, sensory soft play resources and aromas, all used within a safe environment that allows the person using it to explore and interact without risk.

How do you create a sensory corner at home? ›

Find a corner or closet and you can transform it into a reading haven. If you have a bookcase, that is great, but if not a bucket of books will do the trick. Toss in a beanbag chair, some earmuffs to keep the noise out, and a lamp or book light. You may even want to hang a sheet up to act as a curtain for your space.

What does sensory seeking look like in the classroom? ›

Constantly moving all parts of the body. Fidgeting and struggling to sit still. Splashing in mud, seeking dirty types of play.

How big should a sensory room be? ›

A great size for a room is around 3m x 4m, this is usually plenty of space to create an amazing sensory area. It can have a good range of sensory equipment and still feels spacious yet comforting.

What is a calm corner for autistic children? ›

A calm zone or corner can be used to support your child to regulate during difficult times, such as after returning from school (or other difficult transition) or other challenging experiences. Find a zone that is quiet and not too busy. It could be a corner in a room, or it could be an area in their own bedroom.

What is sensory tools for classroom? ›

Sensory-informed classrooms can incorporate tactile manipulatives and fidgets to support a multitude of students. Consider distraction-free fidgets like pencil top fidgets, bouncy bands on chairs and desks, and set expectations with a classroom poster of fidget rules!

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