Setting up sensory stations is a way to allow children to easily meet their sensory needs whether it’s in your home or the classroom. We homeschool and for a few years now have used a few unofficial sensory stations in our classroom but I have recently begun to create official sensory stations and a chart to let the kids know what the stations are.
Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for any injury that occurs in the course of any of these suggestions. I am simply a parent of many children who have sensory processing disorder and am sharing our experiences with you.
There are many ways that you can provide kids access to these stations. You can have them rotate through the stations in between other activities, have them rotate through the stations at a set time, or you can simply provide the stations and let the kids know what they are and that they are welcome to use them when they need to.
You can choose to have the station set up like a circuit and have them numbered or ordered in a very organized way or you can have them be more of a fluid concept. I would suggest that if you have children with autism or children who just need more structure, you have some type of chart or way for them to keep track of the stations if you don’t have them laid out in a circuit.
When the weather is nice, we are able to incorporate some outdoor stations into our rotation which makes things even easier and often the fresh air and change of pace help the kids almost as much as the actual activity.
Our current sensory stations are:
-the trampoline – They can choose just to jump or can play some trampoline games.
-sensory bin – I make a new sensory bin every week and the kids love playing in them. If you are looking for ideas, I have dozens of examples of our sensory bins in the sensory bins category (click that link to take you there) or if you are new to making sensory bins, you may want to consider purchasing my Sensory Bins ebook.
-playdough – Right now, the playdough station we have set up is what we call Stuck in the Mud, but the playdough station changes throughout the year such as having a Gingerbread playdough station set up in December. Your playdough station doesn’t need to be elaborate. Include playdough and playdough mats or some simple toys or kitchen gadgets.
-merry-go-round – I know that most people don’t have a merry-go-round set up in their backyard, but we happen to. My dad found one at an auction a few years ago and had it put in for us. The reason I share this station though is because it is great for meeting vestibular sensory needs. There are other things you could do to create a vestibular (think spinning or balance and movement) sensory station. A climbing wall, jungle gym for monkey bars or swinging, indoor swing, a tunnel for crawling through, or a spinning chair would all be excellent vestibular sensory stations.
-busy bags – We use busy bags for a variety of things but many of the ones that I make are very sensory rich, so they work well as a sensory station.
-sponges and water – This is an example of a one time activity that the kids enjoyed so much, I turned it into a regular sensory station.
-auditory station – We always have this station set up in our classroom. It consists of a pair of headphones and a CD player. I put out different audio books and music each week.
-bean bag chair – We have a large bean bag chair set up in our homeschool classroom and the kids love it for downtime. They can go there to read, snuggle with me, or just to relax.
We do have some other stations such as a bin full of instruments, a playground, sandbox, and tunnel that I sometimes throw into the mix. Other times, I create an entirely new sensory activity that is really popular with the kids so I turn it into a sensory station.
Sensory Station Ideas:
-ball pit (this can be made easily by filling a kiddie pool with balls or pieces of cut up pool noodles)
-swing (indoor or outdoor)
–mats for summersaults, rolling, wrestling, flips
-crab walk, crawl
-frog jump, bunny hop, jumping jacks
-sensory tot trays
-heavy work like carrying books, a laundry basket push, pulling a wagon filled with rocks, carrying pails of water
-hanging area such as a chin up bar or monkey bars
-large hopping ball or exercise ball
-couch cushions or blankets for rolling up in or sandwiching between
-body socks or body tubes
-square or circle made with masking tape on the floor for jumping on one foot or doing lazy 8s
-drums, shakers, or other instruments
-instruments for creating a marching parade
-dancing station with music and a large area to move in
-pouring and scooping
-pots and pans and spoons (for stirring or banging)
-bean bag chair
-auditory station (headphones and CD player for music or audio books)
-bin with soapy water for washing play dishes (or real dishes), cars or toys
-dress up station
-cooking station for older kids, particularly recipes that create dough that requires kneading or a lot of mixing
The great thing about being able to create your own sensory stations is that you can customize them to meet the sensory needs of your kids or students. You can also change them to fit weather or seasonal needs. Changing them from time to time also helps keep children interested and engaged. What sensory stations have you tried out?
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