Post By:

Deiera Bennett

Created On:

March 30, 2024

Social Cipher Sensory Space Guide

Sensory spaces give students a place to relax and regulate their emotional when they feel overwhelmed and overstimulated. At the 2024 Council for Exceptional Children Conference, we had the pleasure of hosting the first ever sensory space for conference attendees. The purpose of the space was to give attendees a place to take a break from the busyness of the conference while giving them a firsthand experience of how sensory spaces can impact their students. The Social Cipher Sensory Guide is here to help you recreate the space for your students.

Sensory Station

The sensory station should include a variety of items to help students navigate overstimulation, stress, and anxiety. You can also include items that help students refocus their energy. The sensory station items can range from simple and low-cost kinetic sand to expensive weighted blankets. The key is to provide a diverse selection that caters to individual students’ needs.

How to Use in Schools

Concert Earplugs

  • Excellent for students who get overstimulated by noise in hallways, the cafeteria, etc.
  • Minimize distractions during individualized work and testing

Fidget Toys

  • Encourage self-regulation
  • Help students release energy in a non-distracting way

Textured Items

  • Kinetic sand, beads, stress balls, squishy toys, and other tactile items help students release energy and self-regulate
  • Calming textures, such as stuffed animals, can help students relax


  • Nature sounds, classical music, and instrumentals can help students relax and focus
  • Highly customizable to align with students’ preferences

Game Station

Did you know forty-one percent of neurodivergent youth spend their free time playing games? Our online social and emotional learning game Ava is a powerful tool for emotional regulation, decompression, and SEL skill development. Enhance the game station with comfortable seating, such as bean bags.

How to Use Ava in Schools

  • Use Ava’s World Builder in the morning or after lunch to provide a creative outlet for energy release. Strengthen teamwork, communication, and social skills by having students work in teams to build specific items (such as a pirate ship or city).
  • Increase students’ social awareness by sending them on a scavenger hunt through an Ava quest to identify specific feelings displayed by the characters
  • Use Character Builder to increase self-awareness by asking students to create a character most similar to themselves (check out our SEL Resources for more Character Creator prompts).

Activity Station

Activities like puzzles and coloring books allow students to improve their concentration while strengthening their problem-solving and creative thinking skills.

How to Use in Schools


  • Use LEGOs in hands-on lessons to teach concepts like patterning & symmetry
  • Strengthen storytelling by encouraging students to build scenes from books/movies

Coloring Books

  • Use as a brain break for when students need to refocus or as a self-regulation tool during independent work time.
  • Incorporate into art lessons and by having students create their own coloring pages


  • Jigsaw puzzles, word searches, etc. strengthen problem-solving skills and can boost self-esteem upon completion.
  • Puzzles can also promote social interaction and communication when worked on collaboratively.


  • Books offer a retreat for students when they feel overwhelmed or overstimulated.
  • Include a variety of genres that appeal to different special interests

View and download the printable Social Cipher Sensory Space Guide here.

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