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Sarah Adams Sensory/Activity Wall: "Where Are They Now?”

“It all started with an inspiration…”


In 2015, the District 95 Educational Foundation funded a $2000 grant for a Sensory/Activity Wall in Sarah Adams Elementary School. Continue reading to learn about its progress!

What is the Sensory Wall?


The Sensory Wall has several tactile boards and is located in the entryway of the Sarah Adams building. Students and adults often stop and use it as they enter the hallway, working on their tactile skills by moving designated objects on each board and seeing their visual effects on its overall design.

It is accessible to everyone in the school, and teachers in the Social Communications Program provide their students access to the wall every day. Students enjoy accomplishing the tasks of the boards and use it as a learning tool to learn about colors, shapes, paths, etc. It provides an overall calming experience.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic this year, the board is wiped down between each user, but everyone is still welcome, and encouraged to, fidget with the boards.


A section of the Sensory/Activity Wall in Sarah Adams Elementary


The Sensory/Activity boards in the Central Library in Copley Square

Inspiration for Sarah Adams Sensory boards

How Did the Idea for the Sensory Wall Come About?

Ms. Cynthia Mall was the Principal when the idea for the Sensory Wall came alive. Her inspiration came from the Boston Public Library (The Central Library in Copley Square-pictured left), where a newly remodeled children’s library room held several sensory walls that caught her eye.


“My granddaughter was one year old [when we visited the library] and she enjoyed these boards and their experiences. I took pictures for reference [...] I knew that our students [at Sarah Adams] could also enjoy and benefit from these types of boards. When the right time came to plan out the wall, I collaborated with the Department of Student Services to select the type of boards that would best fit the needs of our students, then we wrote the grant to purchase the boards,” said Ms. Mall.

The Foundation’s Impact

The grant provided by the Foundation funded all aspects of the Sensory Wall's beginning stages. The vision for the Sensory Wall would not have come into fruition without the Foundation’s generosity and support throughout the process. Although the wall was created before she started working as Principal of Sarah Adams, Ms. Katie Culver has still easily been able to see the benefits from it. 


“[The wall is] a great opportunity for our students to have a mindful sensory break in our hallway. Sometimes when we have a student who is dysregulated, or having a tough moment, the sensory wall can give them a calming break and allow them to refocus and reset,” said Ms. Culver.

A student using a board in Sarah Adams


What the Future Holds

While there aren’t any current plans to expand/modify the Sensory Wall, its benefits to the Sarah Adams community are far reaching. Students and teachers alike continue to be fascinated by the versatility of the boards, as well as their calming abilities. One cannot simply walk past the Sensory Wall without stopping for a few seconds to fidget with the board and its pieces. Ms. Mall’s innovative vision, with support from the Foundation, brought the Sensory Wall to life. It will continue to benefit everyone who is fortunate enough to use it.

More boards in Sarah Adams

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