Children learn to make sense of the world around them, through using their own 5 senses from the minute they start to develop, even whilst safely tucked away inside their mother at the beginning of their life’s journey. So it makes perfect sense to carry on providing opportunities for children to learn through sensory stimulation as they continue to explore, change and grow in an exciting and ever-changing world.
What’s more, the majority of children love to use their senses both to learn and discover new concepts, as well as to reinforce old and familiar experiences throughout their lives. In fact for some children, sensory exploration is one of the strategies for learning with which they feel most comfortable. For many children who have lacked sensory stimulation early on in their life, they will continue to crave physical, real experiences and feel happiest when carrying out hands-on learning.
Helping to Develop the Senses
At Schoolscapes we like to support both educators and children to be able to freely access and benefit from enjoying sensory learning, particularly developing equipment that promotes using sensory investigation in the outdoor environment. Our experienced designers ensure that our exciting resources are both designed to match children’s interests and needs, as well as being built for longevity and meeting all the robust safety standards required.
Here are our favourite ideas for stimulating the 5 senses in learners of any age.
1. At the top of our list has to be outdoor gardening. Taking learning outdoors and helping the children to discover through free play and real-life, purposeful, practical investigations provide a multitude of opportunities for sensory learning.
Our popular Sensory Planter Stax are so versatile and can be arranged to suit any outdoor play space, quickly creating an attractive, special, gardening zone. Children then have regular access to a very child-friendly space to plant a wide variety of seeds, bulbs and plants. It provides an ideal platform to observe any seasonal changes and watch first-hand as plants grow through the stages of their life, as well as helping to tend the plants, discovering first hand what a plant needs to grow successfully.
Learners will love to record their observations and be excited to note the changes over time. They’ll soon be confident naming all the parts of a plant and even able to look under the ground at the root systems using our Window Planter & Wormery, which comes with the added bonus of enabling children to slide open the doors, to watch the minibeasts hard at work in the mysterious world under the surface of the soil!
See our blog Go Mad for Gardening for more fun gardening ideas and to discover which plants make an effective, inviting sensory garden.
Gardening so easily stimulates all the senses, through simply using a very small section of any outdoor area, providing children ample, ongoing opportunities to develop their sense of touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. They can even enjoy harvesting their own tasty treats… one proven way to make children eat more fruit and veg is certainly by them participating fully in growing it themselves!
2. Our second favourite for extensive outside sensory play development is the creation of a Musical Trail or a Sound Station nestled within an outdoor play space. Gardens often make a wonderful setting for stimulating, attractive outdoor instruments; we have both neutral, natural colours or vibrant, colourful options, depending on the mood desired to be created in each individual the setting.
Children can feel the vibrations, enjoy the tones and get creative composing their own tunes and songs, for both their own pleasure and enjoy performing for others. They will gradually gain confidence. They will naturally discover all about pitch and dynamics, through fun, self-initiated play.
Our sensational Outdoor Musical Instruments are visually very attractive, stimulating the development of sight, sound and touch along the musical pathway, providing users with effortless, fun, sensory play without them even realising it! Adults are usually seen having a go at a tune too… music clearly brings happiness, delight and improves mental well-being.
3. What can provide more sensory stimulation than the pure feel and movement of sand and water between your fingers and toes? Providing opportunities for science, maths and language development, sand and water are an essential part of any outdoor play environment, from the Early Years (EYFS) right up to KS2, offering the chance for both free exploration and adult led challenges.
At Schoolscapes we truly value the development of the core skills from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and we take pride in the development of our unique Water Wall, offering all learners the chance to play and discover, whilst learning essential life skills. Children can plan, design and test their own waterways and develop their ideas. The options are limitless!
Alongside our enticing Construction Station, where children can learn to manoeuvre natural materials like sand, soil, bark and stone, they provide both physical, mental and sensory development by the bucket full!
4. To provide visual sensory delights, look no further than our innovative Poly Paint Station and our vibrant, educational Game Table Tops. Both provide users with the chance to explore the wonders of colour, design and creativity. Children can improve their observation skills and develop an eye for detail, by looking through the transparent polycarbonate painting easel, to the view beyond. Or they can delight in colour mixing using vibrant paints or create natural paints, by exploring the surrounding environment.
Our versatile Game Top Picnic Bench Range has an option to meet every need, motivating pupils to learn new vocabulary and to take part in challenges. Providing visual sensory stimulation and active challenges across the curriculum, they also create an excellent work station within any outdoor environment, providing a place to gather, chat and develop important social and communicative skills.
5. Finally, for our physical learners, our extensive range of quality, timber Trim Trails, enticing Adventure Towers and robust Outdoor Gym Equipment all provide a tactile, active sensory challenge. Pupils can climb, traverse, swing, twist and power across the interesting equipment, setting themselves personal challenges and targets, as well as enjoying imaginative group games with their peers. They will experience a wide range of sensory materials, that are inviting to hold and touch, such as rope, wood, steel and rubber.
Children’s natural tendency to want to climb, discover and explore makes our smooth to touch, wooden equipment a top choice nationally. Our robust, quality equipment graces outdoor play areas right from EYFS, through KS1 And KS2 as well as featuring throughout parks, commercial and recreational play areas across the country, providing an active testament to our well-designed play areas. Happy, active children are our priority.
The Next Step Makes Sense
Why not join us on an exciting sensory journey of play and discovery and take a look at how we can help you make the most of the multitude of sensory opportunities that can easily become a regular, everyday reality within your setting? Our dedicated, in-house team are here to support you from initial enquiries, right through to design, manufacture, installation and onward.
We would love to work with you to get your youngsters outdoors, active and exploring using all their senses on a regular basis. We want all children to be able to actively learn and understand more about the world they live in and we enjoy supporting them in building personal life-skills, pointing them towards a better, brighter more rounded future.