Teacher creates DIY tennis ball chairs for kids with special needs

Design: Miss Maplethorpe made these sensory chairs for her students © Facebook/Raymond Ellis Elementary School
Design: Miss Maplethorpe made these sensory chairs for her students © Facebook/Raymond Ellis Elementary School

A teacher who created a DIY "sensory" chairs that can help children with special needs has received international attention and lots of praise.

Miss Maplethorpe, who works at Raymond Ellis Elementary School in Illinois, hopes that the special chairs will help kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down syndrome.

The post on the school’s Facebook page reads, “Miss Maplethorpe, from our Speech and Language Department, created these chairs for our students that have sensory issues.”

The school explains that the chairs, which are covered in sliced tennis balls, could help kids in the classroom.

"Sensory seating is used for students who may have difficulty processing information from their senses and from the world around them. Tennis balls on the seat and backrest provide an alternative texture to improve sensory regulation.

Students with autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, sensory processing disorder, etc. may benefit from this seating option".

Miss Maplethorpe has since appeared on Good Morning America and the overwhelming response is that some children with sensory issues may find the chairs really comfortable and help improve concentration.

The post has been shared almost 100,000 times with many people asking to buy them.

The school, however, provided instructions on how to make them instead.


The materials used to make the chairs included: a chair, ½ tennis balls, fabric, modge podge (glue) , paintbrush/paint sponge, and hot glue.

  1. First, take a chair and modge podge (glue) the seat and backrest and then place fabric over it.
  2. Next, modge podge (glue)  over the fabric and wait for it to dry, which takes approximately 20-30 minutes.
  3. Then, hot glue tennis balls cut in half to the seat and backrest.
  4. When that dries, hot glue the excess fabric underneath the seat and behind the backrest to give it an “upholstered” look.
  5. It may also be helpful to hot glue around the tennis balls one more time for an extra hold.
  6. And with that, the chairs are done. Happy creating!

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