The first thing a student might notice in Burkhart Elementary School’s (Burkhart Elementary is located in Indianapolis, IN.) new sensory room is the light tube. Or maybe the slide. Or the trampoline and crash mat, according to an article in Education Week.
There are magnetic tiles on a wall and scooter boards all over the floor.
The room invites play, but it also serves a purpose: help students calm down — or wake up — and get ready to learn.
The sensory room recently opened thanks to a $9,000 grant from the Perry Education Foundation. In addition to funding the project, foundation representatives assembled the furnishings, painted the room teal blue, and dimmed the overhead lights with fabric hangings.
It’s open to all students who need it for a few minutes. Classroom teachers receive training to determine which students might benefit from a break in the room. Only a few students at a time will use the room.
It will also serve as an important space for students in the Comprehensive Intervention Program, the self-contained special education program. How each student will use the sensory room will vary.
CIP teacher Ailis McCarthy said her students who get overwhelmed with noise and activity benefit from spending a few quiet minutes in the room in the dim light or watching the bubble tower. After that, they’re able to rejoin the group for their regular activities, she says.
McDonald says some students may use it as a space to calm down at the end of the day, do movement exercises, and watch the bubbles in the light tube. Others may bounce on the trampoline or rock on the soft foam spinners to burn some energy and steady their emotional state ahead of a lesson.
The district hopes to open sensory rooms at each of its elementary schools, says Vickie Carpenter, assistant superintendent for foundational learning.