Sensory rooms may seem like these complex mazes designed for kids but they’re not. In fact, they’re very easy to make. If you like going the DIY route, keep reading, and we’ll tell you what you’ll need to build one.
What Is a Sensory Room?
A sensory room is a dedicated quiet space that’s designed for calming down children and helping them engage with their senses. It’s a safe and playful environment that lets kids be themselves and enjoy exploring different sensations. These rooms are therapeutic by nature and help children learn how to manage and regulate their emotions without feeling isolated or ignored. Low lighting, soft toys, mirrors and bubble tubs are a few of the various elements found in these rooms.
Is Sensory Room Needed for Your Kid?
Kids are like little bundles of energy. They love to run around, play with their hands and bump into furnishings. These are some of the reasons why most parents end up building sensory rooms and give them sensory experiences. If you have a child that gets overstimulated by lights, sounds and his surroundings, building a sensory room will help him calm down. Your sensory room doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t take a lot to build one.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Sensory Room for Your Child?
Sensory rooms aren’t just for decor; they are designed to aid kids in their learning and holistic development. Here are some of the benefits:
1. It Calms Them Down
For children who tend to throw tantrums and have issues with anger or anxiety, sensory rooms work wonders to calm them down. It improves their attention span too.
2. Improves Learning and Communication Skills
By exposing children to different sensory experiences and environments, different parts of their brains light up, and new neural pathways are made. This ends up making them smarter and boosts overall learning skills.
3. Builds Gross Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination
Kids learn how to work with their hands when they’re engaging with their senses. Sensory rooms work on their gross and fine motor skills. It makes their hand muscles work and builds up dexterity.
4. Teaches Kids How to Regulate Their Emotions
About 1 in 100 kids fall on the autism spectrum in the UK, and difficulty processing sensory information is one of the challenges these kids face. Sensory rooms teach kids how to regulate and work through their emotions instead of repressing them. It gives them a healthy outlet to express how they feel and learn more about themselves.
5. Fosters Creativity
Artistic activities like drawing, painting and making crafts in sensory rooms enhances a child’s creative skills, the more they spend time in them.
6. Improves Signs of Developmental Delays
For kids who are falling back on their classes or have special needs, sensory rooms can help in preventing any developmental delays. Various senses are stimulated gently in these rooms, and kids are exposed to different experiences, thus engaging all parts of their brains.
Items That You Must Keep In a Sensory Room
Are you thinking of building your very first sensory room? You don’t need a lot to build one. Here’s some of the stuff you’ll need.
Trampolines will work on your kid’s proprioception and vestibular system. There are models with folding legs available that save space.
2. Landing Mats
Landing mats are designed for kids who jump on trampolines. They prevent accidents on the floor by providing sufficient cushioning.
3. Climbing Structures
Free-to-move climbing structures are great for kids who are constantly on the move. They can be paired with suspension equipment to turn sensory rooms into indoor home gyms.
Having tunnels in the room will encourage kids to crawl around and notice how the lighting changes outside when they come out of them.
Softballs can be moved or rolled around and help in promoting focus and attention. Kids can sit on them and enjoy the postural benefits provided at the same time.
6. Tactile Props
Tactile props like a vertical surface made from plywood, mirrors, or chalkboards can help kids work with their hands. They encourage fine motor control. Prop up various elements like fridge magnets, artistic mediums for drawing and painting and more to stimulate your child.
Building a Sensory Room
Creating your very own sensory room design and bringing it to life isn’t difficult. You have to take the following points into consideration.
Step 1: Identify Your Child’s Sensory Needs
Observe your child for a few minutes every day. Is he sensitive to different lights or has a tendency to run around the house? Such little nuances can give you clues on multi-sensory room ideas. If your child jumps around a lot and is hyperactive, a sensory room that has a lot of textured toys and porch swings might do the trick.
Step 2: List the Supplies as Per the Pricing
Before you go out shopping for sensory toys or supplies, be sure to list out what you need. If you’re building a small sensory room, you won’t need a lot. 3-5 items will suffice for small sensory rooms, but for larger rooms, you’re going to have to bump up the numbers. Go for higher-quality items instead of quantity, if your budget permits.
Some examples of supplies under $25 are:
- Sensory bins
- Yoga balls
- Sensory bottles
- Scooter boards and fidget spinners
Sensory items that are above $25 and under $150 would be:
- Porch swing
- Floor tiles
- Fibre optic lighting systems
- Monkey bars
- Rodi bouncers
Step 3: Getting the Space Ready for a Sensory Room
Clear out the clutter from the room and get ready to organise your space. Once you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s time to segment the room into different zones your child can explore. Keep even spacing and place cushions in front of the swing or trampoline. Use the different areas of your home to your advantage.
Sensory Room Ideas for Home
When it comes to children’s sensory room ideas, you’ll have to look at the various elements involved in building the room. From the lighting, flooring, walls and sensory room themes, here’s what to focus on.
1. Lighting Ideas
If you’re trying to build a sensory room on a budget, lighting will play a key role. Here are some good ideas.
- Adjustable Fibre Optic Curtain Lights – Fibre optic curtain lights let you adjust the brightness and contrast of your overall lighting. These come in different colours, and most brands design them with children’s sensory requirements in mind.
- Bubble Tubes – Bubble tubes are large tanks that children stare at for hours. It’s a type of sensory stimulation where bubbles change colours and elements, like fish, float around. They are pretty tall and may also have built-in LED lamps.
- Light Projectors – You can get a few lighting projectors to change up the lighting of the room. There are calming light projectors found in stores that create smooth projections on ceilings. You can create a wide variety of effects with dotted lights and different lighting patterns.
2. Flooring Ideas
The flooring has to be soft and gentle so your child doesn’t get injured when he’s playing along with his friends. Here are a few flooring ideas for your sensory room.
- Add Padding Where Needed – Your child is going to fall on the floor, slide, skid, and bump into it a lot. You don’t want a fractured clavicle, and by adding some padding, you can make sure your child is safe.
- Use Foam Tiles – Foam tiles are resilient and give excellent resistance when it comes to intense physical exercises and movements. They’re moisture-resistant and easy to clean up after use.
- Try Out Sensory Room Tiles – Sensory room tiles are safe and non-toxic. They can be used as playmats, are not prone to slipping and are available in different colours and sizes.
3. Wall Ideas
There are several sensory décor ideas for your walls. Here are a few:
- Wobble Boards – Wobble boards can be used for sitting on, balancing, jumping and just moving around. You can prop them near walls.
- Swings and Glow in the Dark Panels – You can prop up swing sets and create interesting structures for your sensory room. If you don’t like swings, you can create glow-in-the-dark panels on the walls by using special paints.
- Mirror Tiles – Mirror tiles that are self-adhesive and not made from glass are absolutely safe for kids. You can place these on walls for your child to see themselves on the mirror and get surprised with their own reactions.
4. Toys and Fidgets
You can use toys and fidgets if you’re looking for sensory room ideas for autism spectrum children. Here are a few examples.
- Colourful Puzzles – Colourful puzzles could involve blocks or tiles filled with various letters, shapes and numbers. Kids can try to fit the pieces in and complete them.
- Fidget Spinners – Fidget spinners are great for kids who constantly love to play with their hands. They’re fantastic for ADHD and calm down young minds.
- Touch and Feel Books – Touch and feel books have textured pages and tell a story. They encourage children to interact with them and find out more by turning and feeling.
5. Décor Ideas
When you’ve got your toys, lightning and wall items in place, it’ll be time to bring them together and wrap up the room. The final touches of a sensory room are done by using room décor. Here’s what you can use.
- Wall Posters – There are various wall posters marketed for kids. Some of them involve themes like breathing calmly and taking relaxing breaths.
- Wall Paints – Painting your walls navy blue or in a colour that complements your lighting setup will accentuate the mood. This will improve the overall sensory experience.
- Floor mats – You can use floor mats or carpets to style the flooring. These can be found in different colours, shapes and patterns. If you’re already using soft foam tiles, you can skip this, but it wouldn’t hurt to fill up any empty space using them.
That’s pretty much all the info you need to get started on creating a sensory room for your child. Be sure to exercise your creativity and have lots of fun. You don’t have to stick to these rules but pay attention to your child’s natural traits when you’re building the room. The sensory room should adapt to your child’s needs and work on helping him out, not work against him. And since you know your child’s behaviour best, you can shop and build accordingly.