Cozy Pillow Cave, a sensory retreat

A couple weeks ago I put together this cozy “cave” for the kids to keep in their calm down corner. (Excuse the lumpy picture, LittleMan was inside it at the time.)
Cozy Cave from Suzy Homeschooler (2)
I got the idea from this pin (click here) on Pinterest, unfortunately when you click on the pin, all that comes up is a 404 error. I tried going to the Understanding SPD webpage, which should have been the source of the link, but I was redirected to A Sensory Life. I searched for pillow cave on the website but was unable to find the original post. If you happen to know the url for the original post please post it in the comments so I can give proper credit.

The pin said, “Use a twin size duvet cover…add lots of pillows inside of the duvet. A perfect sensory retreat! Your child can go inside, cuddle up on top of it like a nest, lay underneath for deep pressure, or use it as a soft landing pad for big leaps and jumps!”
But I didn’t have a duvet cover handy and I really wanted to do this project at a low cost. I managed to pull it off for free and its been used quite a bit so I’d say that it was worth the price, lol.

I found an old fitted single bed sheet that wasn’t being used for it’s intended purpose so I turned it inside out, folded it in half horizontally, and pinned. I did a zig-zag stitch, stretching the fabric taunt as I ran it through the machine, along both pinned sides with the folded edge on bottom and leaving a few feet open at the top.

Once both sides had been stitched (and the stitches had been doubled over for security), I turned the sheet right side out and stuffed it with pillows. Luckily we had 4 full-body pillows that were just laying around not being used for anything and they filled the cave out nicely.

Cozy Cave from Suzy Homeschooler (1)
LittleMan loves to climb all the way in.
Cozy Cave from Suzy Homeschooler (3)
SunnyGirl prefers to use it as a soft place to land when she jumps off the couch. (Not pictured.)

I do feel the need to clarify, LittleMan does not have Sensory Processing Disorder.
When LittleMan was a year old I once made a comment to my aunt about him signing and she assumed he was deaf because why else would I teach him sign language? Well, I taught my hearing child ASL for the same reason I gave my non-SPD child an SPD therapy tool: I felt he would benefit from it.
A child doesn’t have to be deaf in order to benefit from a different form of communication the same way a child doesn’t have to have a disorder in order to benefit from a calm place to retreat when he is overwhelmed or frustrated.

Also in our calm down corner:
– a poster of feelings faces
– LED tea light candles
– picture books with real pictures
– a mirror
– a weaving loom and bowl of ribbons
– a painting hung at child-eye level
– a mobile hanging from the ceiling
– jar of oil and glitter

We used to have some scented playdough, stress balls, bottle of bubbles, bowl of pine cones, and a stuffed animal but those just weren’t getting any use so we removed them.
Now I’m working on making a sturdy finger labyrinth. At some point I’d also like to purchase a Tibetan singing bowl, but that is probably months down the road.

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7 Comments to Cozy Pillow Cave, a sensory retreat

  1. pisforpreschooler says:

    I love your idea of a calm-down corner. When I suggest my 4-year-old go in her room for some “quiet time” when she’s upset, she thinks of it as a punishment, but I imagine a calm-down corner area would be less threatening. And I absolutely agree with your opinions – lots of parents teach sign language, especially to babies, just as another way to communicate, and sensory bins have become so popular because they can be helpful for any child, not just those with a sensory disorder.

    • The calm down corner has been wonderful. We first started using it when LittleMan was 3 years old and he suddenly seemed angry all the time. Out of no where, my usually gentle child would just start tantruming. There was an incident in a store, our rock-bottom moment, he started throwing his body around and screaming. We ended up having to restrain him in the middle of the aisle because we thought he was going to hurt himself or us. Less than a week after that incident we built our first calm down corner and started practicing deep breathing exercises with him. 2 months later he was saying “I’m angry,” instead of tantruming. Now almost 2 years later, he rarely tantrums at all and when he does it is never even a fraction as bad as it used to be. When he gets frustrated he often goes to the calm down corner on his own without us having to tell him to. If we are out and about when he gets upset, he will come to me and ask for help doing his breathing exercises. It has been a wonderful resource to have a designated place where he can go and feel safe talking about his emotions and learn appropriate ways of expressing them.

    • Jennifer watkins says:

      Would love instructions on that cozy corner thing. My son had SPD. And trying to find things to help. Thanks.

  2. I love your idea of a calm-down corner. When I suggest my 4-year-old go in her room for some “quiet time” when she’s upset, she thinks of it as a punishment, but I imagine a calm-down corner area would be less threatening. And I absolutely agree with your opinions – lots of parents teach sign language, especially to babies, just as another way to communicate, and sensory bins have become so popular because they can be helpful for any child, not just those with a sensory disorder.

  3. I love your idea of a calm-down corner.Thank you for share

  4. Jan Inman says:

    I would love to have the printed instructions for this! Great idea! Thank you!

  5. Serena says:

    This is a brilliant idea and I would love to use for my autistic students at school. Could you send over some instructions on how to make? Thanks!

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