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Sensory Paths


2021 - 2022


Classroom Tools




Michelle Adler


Cottonwood would like to better support our students

who have sensory needs; we are asking for the funds to

make and create a wall that will benefit our younger

learners for years to come. According to Sager (2021), “.

. . there’s been an increase in focus on the sensory

needs of students, thanks in part to increased research

into the topic. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 6.25

American children have some sort of sensory processing

issues, and integrating sensory-directed activities into the

academic day is a means to help them develop

everything from their motor skills to the way they think."

It's possible that nearly 60 kids would immediately benefit

from a path like this, although countless others would

also have opportunities to utilize the path when they need

a break, too.

I’ve seen sensory paths in some of our local elementary

schools. These paths allow students to focus on

movement and patterns while remaining in the school,

getting some needed energy and wiggles out while

staying safe. As noted in Study International (2019),

“Sensory paths let young students hop or tip-toe through

floors, or lean into walls with their hands, but more than

an outlet for kids to let go and hang loose, they serve a

much broader purpose. Many schools have found these

colorful, interactive pathways – which are typically made

with stickers and can be found in hallways or on walls –

as platforms that allow students to release stress and

cope with different emotions,” (pp. 2). As one of the

district’s Title 1 schools, Cottonwood has a student body

where 20% of students qualify for free and reduced

lunches. These students often come with few pre-school

experiences, so they are learning how to be a student in

Kindergarten. They are often wiggly, needing more

outlets for their energy. Many of these students continue

to need safe spaces for their energy that allow them to

focus while staying safe and not taking up large chunks

of time. Sensory paths, placed on the carpet or the wall,

give students a structured routine for getting those

wiggles out. Cottonwood is seeking to place a sensory

path in the long hallway that splits the kinder classrooms

from the first grade. This hall is also used by the FAA

kids. With paras monitoring, students can be given

several minutes to explore the sensory wall – pushing on

squares, jumping up to reach things, counting flowers,

touching letters to type their names, and space to move

their bodies. This hallway is not a thoroughfare except

during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up, meaning

students can use it without interrupting the flow of traffic

in the building. Because we have carpet on this hall, the

decals will be adhered to posterboard or heavy duty

cardboard and attached to the walls. That will allow us to

move them to other places if we see a need, adjust the

height for the students, and take them entirely off the

walls when they need painted.