Recently, I’ve been thinking about the principles behind the design of a great multi sensory room. Some designs I’ve seen are based on cost and/or standard company ‘packages,’ but the most successful designs are those based on the needs of the pupils or students who will use the space. Here’s where the ‘AAA’ principles of room design fit in – availability, appropriateness & achievability!
Availability – Your multi sensory tools & equipment needs to be available when you need it – and to work first time. It’s frustrating to reach a ‘breakthrough’ moment for it to be ruined when you can’t find just the right tool or it doesn’t work! Good storage & organisation is essential. Regular maintenance sessions to check your tools is perhaps not top of the excitement list – but they will save you time (no more disrupted sessions) & money (a stitch in time…) later on! Could this demonstrate a need for a multi sensory room co-ordinator in school?
Appropriateness – Does your multi sensory room really suit all of the learning styles & needs of the pupils & students who use it? Is differentiation of the curriculum easy to achieve in your sensory room? You may have a projector attached to your iPad projecting large images from google earth for a geography lesson, but have you got the small tactile objects available for those kinaesthetic learners? Can you back project your images for the pupil with a visual impairment?
Achievability – Does the design of your multi sensory room mean that it allows all practitioners to use the equipment without a vast technical knowledge? Is your sensory space a truly flexible, immersive space that can be changed in a instant? Simplicity is often the best way forward – why have lots of complicated to use equipment (that no-one will use) when you can have a few, easy to operate & effective multi sensory tools which will be in continuous use?
As well as simplicity, the key themes we promote at Hirstwood Training for successful multi sensory room design are:
•creation of an exciting, innovative, multi sensory studio/room, which may incorporate a more traditional environment
•the development of a set of ‘tools’, which offer the practitioner an opportunity to engineer new learning experiences based on the learning styles of the children
•equipment which is easy to control & operate by the practitioner
• a space which enables easy access to curriculum – at any level
•to establish a space to achieve simple control of sensory experiences – by pupil & staff alike