What is a Sensory Wall?

Sensory Wall Spaces

Sensory rooms are becoming a fairly common presence in spaces like schools and health care settings, and sensory walls are another great option for reducing anxiety and encouraging interaction. These dedicated wall spaces are created with various tactile features that invite visitors to explore their senses, especially the sense of touch. Sensory walls are a beneficial addition to many public spaces including hospitals, schools, airports, and childcare centers.

A sensory wall for any space

A sensory wall is quite like how it sounds: space on a wall that uses a variety of high-touch toys and other items that encourage visitors to touch, feel and experience the effects of the sensory wall. Created on a wall that can be easily reached and experienced, a sensory wall should be accessible for everyone who visits.

Benefits of a sensory wall

Sensory Wall – Activity Panel created by SensoryOne

Just like a sensory room, there are a number of benefits to installing a sensory wall in your space. Whether the intended users are children or adults, the benefits of a dedicated sensory space have been shown to have a positive effect on many parts of their lives.

Helps improve concentration and focus

When a child’s attention is drawn to a sensory wall, they are able to practice their concentration skills. Focused play will help them detach from high stress or anxiety-causing situations.

Can improve coordination and fine- and gross-motor development

The various activities included on a sensory wall, panel or tile can help a child improve fine motor skills like closing a button or zipper and picking up small objects, and gross motor skills involving their arms and torso.

Encourages social interaction

Playing with a sensory wall teaches kids how to interact with the world around them, including people. Interacting with adults and other children is a valuable skill that they’ll use throughout their lives.

Can help reduce anxiety and aggression

The ability to retreat from a stressful situation and instead focus on the calming effects of a sensory wall can help to reduce anxiety and aggressive behaviour. Being able to emotionally separate from a high-stress situation can help a child process their emotions before they become overwhelming and turn into aggression.

Promotes sharing

When sensory walls are located in an area that might have more than one child playing with it at once, they are able to practice their sharing skills together.

Improves creativity & problem-solving skills

Sensory walls present an excellent opportunity for kids to explore their creativity thanks to the open-ended nature of sensory play. With no set rules or guidelines, kids are able to play with the sensory wall in any way their imagination leads them to.

Stimulates senses

A sensory wall can engage not only the sense of touch, but also sight, smell and hearing. When one sense is stimulated, it’s common for others to become more sensitive as well.

Where to install a sensory wall

Sensory walls can be installed in a wide variety of settings where children and adults may benefit from a sensory experience. Since sensory walls can be as small as you’d like them to be, there are very few barriers to installing one.

Businesses and places that may benefit from a sensory wall can include:

Top products to include on a sensory wall

Sensory wall can be made as simple or complex as you’d like them to be. Some common things to include might be:

Pieces of carpeting or flooring – a variety of different carpet scraps including soft and coarse surfaces, or pieces of vinyl, wood, tile or plank floor samples can all provide unique tactile experiences.

Interesting fabrics – Textiles that include sequins, mesh, or fur are especially appealing.

Tactile wall tiles with a variety of touch experiences built in – These pre-made wall tiles make creating a sensory wall easy.

Wall panels that include a variety of tactile experience and UV or fibre optic lights – Larger than a wall tile, a wall panel includes a variety of different sensory experiences on one ready-made panel.

Beads, feathers and chains – Any materials that can provide an interesting or unique touch experience can be included in a sensory wall.

Velcro and zippers – Both the act of opening and closing Velcro and zippers, and just the feel of them under your fingers makes these a good addition to a sensory wall.

Wall murals – Custom designed for your space, sensory wall murals include a variety of different tactile items on a frame or mounted directly onto the wall.

Sensory walls are a great tool to incorporate into many spaces

Whether you have a full wall or just a small section to work with, incorporating a sensory wall into your home, school, office or other setting is a great way to encourage visitors of all ages and development levels to feel comfortable, relaxed, and welcome.