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School Spotlight: What’s A Sensory Path?

sensory paths

Students at Carlisle Elementary regularly visit the sensory path that was installed over the summer. (Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

In the small town of Carlisle, south of Terre Haute, Carlisle Elementary School has a unique hallway that kids love to visit. If the timing’s right, you’ll see kids hopping, spinning, and waving their arms in the air. It’s called the sensory path hall. A series of stickers in various colors and shapes on the floor and walls leads kids from one end to another, and back again, in a big loop. 

Teacher Jennifer Simpson says it helps kids come back to their desks ready to learn.

“You know you’re trying to teach math and you can see that that little one in the back is just not able to focus today so you send em out for a lap on the sensory path and he comes back ready to work,” Simpson says.

More schools are showing interest in sensory paths as a way to promote social-emotional learning, and bring fun into learning environments many say have been inundated with testing demands. Simpson says some teachers have built the path into their daily routines, other times, kids take a lap as needed.

“And it really is amazing to see the difference and then from when you ask them to go out and take that lap and when they come back," she says. "It really does work.”

Simpson says the path cost about $1,500 and was largely supported by the parent-teacher organization. Teachers helped install the path by sticking it to the floor over the summer, and Simpson says they’re expecting it to last for several years.

And soon there could be another one; Simpson says the sensory path has excited students and teachers at the school so much, they plan to purchase another kit to put one on the asphalt outside. 

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