Get inspired with these easy sensory room ideas for kids! And, learn step by step how to create your own sensory room on a budget. Affiliate links used below.
I was in grad school when I walked into a sensory room for the first time. It was a small dark room with all sorts of softly lit toys and projectors. Melodic music was playing and a child was calmly rocking in a swing in a corner of the room.
As my eyes adjusted to the light, I noticed a hugs textured pillow, sensory bins, and vibrating toys kids could hold and wrap around their bodies.
It was almost magical. Like I had just stepped into a hidden world.
Sensory rooms are a powerful tool to regulate and calm any kid. And, there are so many ways to create a sensory room. They can be elaborate or simple. Expensive or totally budget friendly. You can have a separate room or use the corner of your living room!
Whether you have a kid with sensory needs or just want to encourage strong development with your child, you’re int he right place. You’ll learn exactly what a sensory room is, how to create one on a budget, and get inspired with some sensory room ideas!
What is a Sensory Room?
A sensory room is a space set apart to stimulate a child’s (or adult’s) senses. A sensory room can be dark and relaxing, bright and engaging, or a combination of both.
Sensory rooms are commonly found in elementary and special needs schools, as well as therapy clinics and sometimes children’s museums.
Public sensory rooms are often elaborate and contain lots of expensive sensory tools and equipment, but you can set one up in your home on a budget!
Does Your Child Need a Sensory Room?
Sensory rooms are fun and many children will enjoy them. If you have the space and want to give your child a load of sensory play on a regular basis, then a sensory room makes sense!
Most often though, sensory rooms are created in a home for children that have daily sensory needs like:
- Very active, climbs furniture and runs around constantly
- Easily overstimulated by lights, noise, or people
If you’re using a sensory diet or sensory activities on a regular basis, then having a dedicated space for some key sensory toys and tools could be really beneficial. Just remember a sensory room can be simple and doesn’t have to involve lots of high ticket items. It can also be inside of a closet or section of a larger room.
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Awesome Sensory Room Ideas
There are so many different types of sensory rooms and the best one for your child will be based on their sensory needs. Meaning, if your child loves movement, you’ll want to include something they can move on. If your child needs a place to retreat, you may want to create a darker space with some soft lights.
You’ll add a few other activities so when they’re in the space, they have some options to choose from.
As you scroll through the images below, don’t focus on trying to recreate them specifically, but look for what elements your child will likely respond well to.
This collage below is from Calm the Chaos and Steam Powered Family. See the soft lighting all over the room? It’s dark, but lots of interactive lights that immediately exude calm. There’s also lounging pillows, cushions, and bean bags. Plus, tons of textures to feel.
Check out that DIY texture wall, pretty cool!
This sensory room is simple with a cozy corner, different textured pillows, mirror, and gel pads to step on! You can find most of these materials here.
Photo from Fun and Function
You can also go the more interactive route with all sorts of visual, touch, and sound stimulation like this sensory room on a budget from Parenting Special Needs
For a more movement based sensory room, you can add climbing walls, ladders, swings, and monkey bars. This is a serious sensory room!
Photo credit to Fun Factory Sensory Gym
And, then we have the sensory room in Gatwick Airport in the UK. They created a sensory room for children with special needs to get away from the over-stimulation of an airport. They have interactive light up walls, tunnels, tubes, and soft lighting all around.
This last room has a great balance of different types of sensory stimulation. It’s also divided into separate areas. In one corner, they’ve hung a swing, in another a ball pit. There is also some fiber optic string, large crash pad cushion, a vibrating seat (see the cow print pillow), mirrors, large bubble lamp (in front of mirror), projector, and bins of sensory toys and fidgets.
Photo from Pinterest
Sensory Room Ideas on a Budget
When you start looking at all the cool sensory toys, it’s easy to get carried away, but you can often DIY some items for your sensory room, or at least think out of the box. Here’s 3 easy steps to start creating your own sensory room:
Identify what your child’s sensory needs are. That’s a big question for sure. Our free sensory workshop can definitely help fill in the blanks, but think about what your child loves to do AND what they avoid. For example, if you notice your child always spinning, rocking on the porch swing, and touching everything around them, then that’s a big clue.
Or, you may notice your child avoids lights, sounds, or different textures, then you’ll want to start thinking about how to make the room quiet, peaceful, and have low light. Get the idea?
Write down 3-5 sensory tools you could use for a small sensory room space and up to 15-20 for a larger sensory space. Consider focusing on 1-2 higher ticket items, if your budget allows. Use the pictures above to inspire you or pull some ideas from this list:
- Sensory bin
- Vibrating massage bug
- Fidget toys
- Lava lamp
- Scooter board (check out this DIY version)
- Yoga ball
- Sensory bottles (DIY version here)
- Peanut ball
- Rock wall hand holds
- Textured pillows
- Large pillows or crash pads
- Vibrating cushion
- Sensory light projector
- Body sock
- Small pop up tent
- Gym mat or foam puzzle floor
- Glowing bubble tube lights
- Fiber optic curtain light
- Monkey bars
- Ball pit and balls
- Gel pad tiles
- Rodi bouncer
Now it’s time to put it all into action. Look at your list and get the supplies or tools you need. Get your space ready by moving other furniture if needed. Try to set up different areas within the space. For instance, put fidget or textured toys in a bin. Place cushions in front of the swing and hang the swing away from the other sensory toys.
This creates different zones for your child to explore without becoming over stimulated.
What are you most excited to try in your sensory room? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
Learn More About Your Child’s Sensory Needs
If you aren’t sure what your child’s sensory needs are, then grab our free 21 Sensory Red Flags checklist, you’ll find some surprising signs of sensory needs on the list.
More on Sensory Rooms for Kids
Alisha Grogan is a licensed occupational therapist and founder of Your Kid’s Table. She has over 15 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.