9 Must Have Items for An Active Sensory Room
Sensory rooms are specially designed to provide a range of stimuli to help individuals develop and engage their senses. They allow children with autism, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, or atypical sensory processing to explore the world around them but in a safe and non-threatening environment.
They provide a fun and stimulating way to exercise which helps kids focus, stay calm, and learn. Sensory rooms also provide a great opportunity to help kids build confidence in their abilities with gross and fine motor skills.
Active sensory rooms are designed kiddos who are sensory seekers. In other words, the kids that seem to never run out of energy. They’re always running, jumping, fidgeting around, crashing into things, climbing and hanging off of things
Frequent opportunities for movement and high-intensity exercise are proven to help reduce this behavior and improve focus by proactively addressing sensory needs and improving self-regulation. Having a room set up like this is beneficial for schools, therapy clinics, and homes.
I’ve created a list of must-have items for building the perfect active sensory room for your little one. I focused on durable, therapeutic quality equipment and products while creating this list – and then included a few budget-friendly options to each product for parents as well so you can find solutions regardless of your budget.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
1. Climbable Wall
But also, gross motor challenges or issues with bilateral coordination may prevent your kiddo from getting as much physical activity. A climbing wall is great for practicing these important skills.
Your best option on a budget is to grab some of these climbing holds and build your own climbing wall. Check out this DIY Mario Themed Climbing Wall from And Next Comes L. It’s affordable, the instructions are easy to follow, plus it’s super cool.
1. Ball Pit
Your child will have so much fun with a Ball Pit. Plus there are tons of sensory benefits, too! Jumping into a pool full of balls is a great source of proprioceptive input which can help keep sensory-seekers calm. It also helps build muscle strength in the core, arms, and fingers.
This pool has 4-inch foam walls, so it is durable and maintains its shape. This means when your child’s jumping around the sides won’t collapse and the balls wont spill out.
There are tons of affordable ball put options on Amazon, such as this one. The sides aren’t as durable as the thick foam walls so it may not hold up as well to your child’s rough and tumble play. You’ll have to watch out for bending of the wire frame.
I do like one pictured here because it’s deeper sides help prevent the balls from going everywhere. If you wanted, you could also purchase an inflatable pool to use and fill it with balls yourself.
Luckily, additional balls are very affordable but read the packaging and ensure they say “crush resistant” or you’ll be replacing balls a lot.
3. Crash Mat
The first time I saw a crash mat was in a kid’s afterschool program. There was no age or size limit for that mat. Literally, everyone there from toddlers to adults loved it. Whether it was used to jump and crash, or as a place to lay and relax, everyone benefited from it in one way or another.
It’s designed to crash into so it can withstand a beating and will help keep little feet from bouncing all over your furniture, too.
If you have the materials on hand and enjoy DIY, you can also make your own crash mat. and save a ton of money, You’ll need a duvet and a zip-up cover, and something to stuff it with – old stuffed toys and pillows are a good option.
You can also buy one of these awesome “stuffie seats” for your little one to crash into , plus it doubles as a storage system for all your child’s stuffed toys.
4. Sensory Table
The possibilities are literally endless with a good quality Sensory Table. You can add so many different things to create different sensory experiences for your child. You can use plain water, bubbly water, sand, water beads, rice, noodles, etc.
You can find hundreds of different sensory bin/table ideas online to create new experiences for your child to learn and explore.
Especially in the spring and summer, it’s easy to find these items on sale. They’re usually intended for outdoor use but there’s no reason why it can’t come inside. They do work just as well as the more expensive tables. However, when you’re using a water/sensory table with plastic legs there’s a bigger chance for tips or spills because it isn’t as sturdy. Also, the table itself is smaller. .
I think trampolines are my very favorite item for sensory play and activities for children. It almost goes without saying that a trampoline is a must-have for any active sensory room.
First of all, jumping offers so much proprioceptive and vestibular input. It’s great for strengthing core muscles, improving balance and coordination. The exercise is proven to improve self-regulation skills and learning. Plus, they’re fun for everyone and keep littles from jumping on furniture.
This trampoline is really great because it’s pretty big, but still small enough to have inside. Two kids can use it at once, and the safety net is there to protect from falls.
If space is a concern, a smaller trampoline is a great option since they’re more compact and less expensive. Some fold for easy storage. If you’re purchasing a small trampoline, I recommend one with a
6. The GYMBOX
the GYMBOX is a portable, and storable gym that folds up into a cube and has multiple play centers inside (say what!!!!). It’s the perfect solution if you don’t have a lot of space to leave a play gym set up all the time.
You can buy extra pieces to expand the gym and they just velcro together! This kind of product is designed to help your child build motor planning, balance, and coordination,
Other retailers make foam wedges and pieces of play equipment that can be used to create your own home play gym with all the same benefits as the GYMBOX. The pieces can be purchased individually, so this is something you can create and expand on over time, making it a budget-friendly option. However, this option would be more difficult to store and wouldn’t be easily portable.
7. Indoor Play Equipment
This Indoor Play Equipment is like the ultimate indoor monkey bars. You can literally create a playground inside your house. The equipment is sturdy and attaches to both the floor and ceiling.
It’s hard to find anything comparable to the indoor monkey bars in a lower price range. However, this indoor kids jungle set is a great alternative that mounts to your door frame so your children can swing and climb.
Using a Swing can be both calming and alerting, depending on how you’re feeling and how you use it. Basically, swinging helps to restore balance. Swings are a great tool for improving sensory integration, and for improving mood. A large tube swing or web swing is a sensory room must-have.
There are a lot of affordable swing options out there. You can even check out this article to see 10 therapy swings that are under $100.
9. Foam Floor Tiles
Foam Floor Tiles create comfortable flooring, and their texture gives tactile sensory input. It’s a good idea to have foam flooring in your sensory room, especially if there is climbing equipment in the room to help protect your kiddo if they were to fall. These tiles are very thick and durable.
There are tons of budget-friendly foam flooring options. You can even purchase them at the dollar store. Just keep in mind, they likely aren’t made of the same quality of foam or the same thickness.
Check the thickness when you’re reading the packaging or description online. Some foam tiles will even have a fall rating on their label, which means they’ve been tested to reduce injuries from falls at certain heights.
It’s important to have the floor well cushioned around any climbing area to help prevent injury. But for any general play area the thin inexpensive tiles will work
As you create your active sensory room I also encourage you to look for decor that will enhance the sensory experience of the room.
Consider items such as unique lighting (like color changing LED lights), music players, vibrant wall art or decals. Enjoy getting creative and tailoring the room to your child’s individual interests.