Sensory room helps ‘get the wiggles out’

Anne Marie Amacher
Christopher uses the sensory corner at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport earlier this year, before the school temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — School counselor Amy Tallman of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School was looking for ideas to help calm students, particularly those with some challenges, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or who are fidgety.

One idea was a sensory room, but the school lacked space. She continued to investigate and came across the sensory hall concept. Since the sensory needs involved primarily kindergarten through third-grade students, a nook in the lower-grade classroom area fit the concept perfectly.

Parents Scott and Madeline Peake designed the art for the two walls and floor. After getting quotes for printing and installation, Tallman and Principal Julie Delaney submitted the quotes and design to the Davenport Community Schools District because Title IV funds would be used. Those funds cover projects dealing with social and emotional needs. The state pays the vendor directly.

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After the project was approved and installed, Tallman took several of the K-3 classes to the sensory hall to show students how it can be used and how to get permission to use it.

So what’s in the sensory hall? On the floor are leaf designs with numbers on which students can jump from number to number similar to playing hopscotch. Next is a log that students walk across, one foot in front of the other. Then they can jump over or on the mud puddle. Next, they follow the trail that takes a twist and turn. Then students jump on the lily pads before stomping on panther paws to finish their experience.

On one wall, students can trace the ant path with their finger, and jump up and hit the clouds.The scene depicts ants at a picnic site and several ants parachuting down from the sky.

The second wall has panther paws that students push on their way to follow the path of three dragonflies with different sizes of wings. They trace the dragonflies’ wings. Tallman said the wings are in the infinity symbol. “It’s calming.”

Students are taught to seek permission from their teacher to use the sensory hallway. They can’t just get up in class and leave. “It helps the kids move around and get the wiggles out. It’s great for all kinds of kids. It helps calm them down,” Tallman said.

Additional lighting is being looked at for gloomy days, she added. Since there is no direct sunlight, the designs should last possibly up to 10 years. The designs are similar to wraps placed on vehicles and buses advertising businesses. St. Paul’s designs are just flat and adhere to the floor and walls. Cleanup is simple and wet shoes from coming in from the rain or snow does not destroy it. Cost for the project, installed by Edwards Creative, was $3,350.


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