March 22, 2012

The Sensory Break Center

I'm fortunate to have a nice big classroom with space for a Sensory Break Center in my current school. Previously, I was crammed in a tiny portable with several other teachers and had to make do with an overloaded shelf in a closet. This is what I looked like on most days!
In this classroom, I have set up an area with the Learning Zone and Zones of Regulation tools. If you'd like to download the Learning Zone poster, please click here.

We have tools for various sensory needs (visual, auditory, gross motor, fine motor, proprioceptive, vestibular). I have gathered tools from yard sales, raiding my kids' closets as they outgrow items, and purchasing some items with the small allowance we are given each year to spend on materials in our district. Over the years I've been able to accumulate the items that get the most use and weed out unnecessary items.

Here's an overview of how the area is set up. I placed bookshelves on either side with the smaller fine motor items. The gross motor items are in the center. The Learning Zone and Zones of Regulation tools are on the bulletin board. The therapy balls and Hippity Hops are stored on the ball rack.

Here are some close-ups of the fine motor items...

The kids LOVE the Yoga Pretzels visual cards and the Finders Keepers toy...

the green toy (I can't remember the name of it!) is a fave...

The Theraputty, Rubik's Cube, and homemade magnet jar help calm many of my students who need to "shut out the world" for a little while. The magnet jar is just an old mayo jar with cut up pipe cleaners. I found the magnet wand at WalMart.

The Play-Doh and stress balls are also handy to grab for a quick break.

The Brain Noodles are super popular with several students. When they sit down with these for a quick sensory break they truly block out the world! It helps them re-charge. I think I found these on clearance for next-to-nothing at WalMart.

I also made a few cheap-o rainsticks with different sounds out of cardboard tubes, rice, and beans.

Some of the tried-and-true items that seem to work the best for the kids and were worth the purchase price are the Pea Pod (we call it the canoe),

the Exerbug,

the mini-trampoline,

the Body Sock,

the Lite Brite,

the ViewMasters,

the Brain Noodles

and the exercise bands.

This year I made a ball rack to keep the therapy balls and Hippity-Hops from rolling all over the place. It was a cheap, easy way to keep the area a bit neater. This week, I promise to take close up pictures of it and post how to make a cheap-o ball rack.


  1. Hi - Kelley contacted me about being part of your 'Blogs We Love' list, and I'd love to be included! I am now following this blog, as well :)

    I love your Learning Zone/Body Regulation poster and the whole concept. I am going to try out some ways to modify the idea for my students with severe physical and cognitive impairments - I have several who would benefit from being better able to regulate.


  2. Thanks for some fantastic idea for our daughter....wondering if you had the recipe for theraputty and also I looked at body socks, I think I could make some cheaper with right fabric. Thinking it is stretchy fabric that might run cheap at JoAnn's!

    God bless,

    1. I'm glad this gave you some ideas for your daughter. I actually purchased the Theraputty from Amazon. I found this recipe online, but haven't tried it personally so I can't vouch for it!

      Good luck!

  3. Thanks for such a detailed description of your sensory center. We are starting from scratch and can really use all the ideas we can get.

  4. You are awesome! Thanks for great ideas!!!

    1. Glad you found it helpful! Thanks for reading us!

  5. Hi there

    I just wondered if you had any safety regulations to take into consideration when using the peapod. Could it be used as a whole class centre area? ie, the children could rock each other etc or would it need to be adult supervised?

  6. I am just coming across this now and love the poster. I would love to use it in my classroom. Do you have this available somewhere or did you purchase it. Could you email me at Thanks so much!

    1. So glad you can make use of it. Please follow the link above at the end of the blog post.


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