Outdoor sensory play activities provide the opportunity to immerse young minds in their senses in a new environment. Ranging from different textures to touch, scents to breathe in, or colors to gaze at, outdoor sensory play can be beneficial for a range of requirements, using a variety of outdoor sensory play equipment from nature and our Sensory Backpack.
Why is Outdoor Sensory Play Beneficial?
Children with sensory issues or learning difficulties can benefit greatly from outdoor sensory activities. A natural, sensory-friendly, outdoor environment can be extremely therapeutic and act as a calming and safe escape for children to explore their environment and learn on their own accord without feeling too overwhelmed. Equally, for children that are particularly reserved, outdoor sensory play can help them to come out of their shell and explore. Outdoor sensory activities help children to focus on all of the senses or can be tailored to a specific individual and target certain senses appropriately. Having an outdoor sensory environment helps to educate the senses in a way that is fun for children. It's also much easier to enjoy messy activities outside! Here are five of our favorite ways to engage the senses outdoors.
Outdoor Treasure Hunt
There are so many colors and textures to explore outside! Why not create a checklist of different flowers and leaves to find?
Not only can bright colors be a great stimulation (especially sunflowers and marigolds), treasure hunts are fun and engaging activities to help develop focus. Additionally, introducing new and interesting textures is also a great stimulation to sight, with intricate barks and feathery leaves being great for this.
Engage the visual senses by evening with our Sensory Backpack. Set up the pop-up tent and beam the aurora projector or effects wheels onto a wall or fence for a magical, visual, outdoor experience.
2. Name the Scent
Scents can have a huge impact on mood, and so choosing the right scents can benefit young children who are enjoying the sensory garden. There are even plants that smell like things that will be familiar to children. For example, Helichrysum Italicum, which smells like curry. Or Cosmos Atrosanguineus, which smells like chocolate. Many other aromatic plants and herbs can also induce aromatherapy. Try introducing children to the scents of different plants and flowers, coming up with words to describe the smells, and talking about how it makes them feel. For example, lavender is often associated with promoting relaxation, while the smell of cut grass can be reminiscent of summer memories. This can be a peaceful mindfulness activity and also encourages verbal communication. Just be sure to check for allergies and only use familiar plants and flowers.
The aroma starter kit and mouse inside the Sensory Backpack can help bring scents indoors to extend the peaceful experience!
3. Explore Sounds
The outdoors is home to many new and interesting sounds. Birdsong, rustling leaves, moving grasses, and trickling water can induce a sense of tranquillity in children. Introducing wind chimes is a great way of introducing some stimulating but still soothing sounds. Individuals can even create noises themselves through playing with these wind chimes. If you don't have a stream or creek nearby, why not bring a waterfall tube outside to recreate the sound of flowing water in nature.
4. Describing Textures
There are so many exciting textures that you can experiment with outdoors. The soft Stachys Byzantina, also known as lamb’s ears, is soft to touch and loved by little hands. Equally, moss can provide an alternative texture that is still soft to touch. Even stones and bark are interesting to touch with their abrasive and intricate textures. Help children learn about different textures by creating a chart with adjectives for different textures that children can tick off as they find new textures. This is an exploratory activity to teach children new words and introduce different tactile sensations.
Younger children may enjoy dropping the stretchy lizard set from our Sensory Backpack into a tub of water or sand and fishing them out!
5. Create an Outdoor Haven
Sometimes children need a soothing change of scenery, just for them. Our sensory backpack is packed with outdoor sensory play activities, providing everything you need to create a sensory wonderland outside! Set up the pop-up tent near to an outdoor power outlet to create an outdoor sensory tent. This way, individuals can enjoy the bubble tube and fiber optics in their outdoor haven.