Creating Inclusive Outdoor Play Environments

Creating inclusive outdoor play environments should be at the forefront of any playground development project. Outdoor play helps all children understand the world and each other through social, imaginative, and creative activities. This opportunity for fun and development should be accessible and inclusive of all children.

Accommodating and appealing to SEN children requires a range of inclusive playground equipment. Our sensory, creative, and imaginative equipment include games and activities that promote inclusive and stimulating play. As playground experts, we are here to provide direction and inspiration for you to create a truly inclusive play space.

Fun Inclusive Outdoor Play Activities for SEN Children

Specialised SEN toys and tactile games are key to SEN play provision. These accommodate different styles of learning and involve different skills that appeal to different forms of interaction and play.

A variety of different play equipment accessible to all children encourages self-directed and exploratory play known as free-flow play. This is the best way to create a truly inclusive and accessible play environment. Inclusive play provision gives kids more options to meet their varied skills and interests.

However, there are specific types of play that are recommended for developing SEN playgrounds. This includes sensory play activities, role play, and different levels of physical or active play.

Sensory and Role Play activities for SEN children can engage in sensory and role-play activities in self-directed or adult-led ways. However, these activities aim to inspire creativity and encourage curiosity. Providing space for different play types allows many different opportunities for self-expression and enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Inclusive outdoor play panel with a solar system theme being used by a child

Sensory Outdoor Play Activities to Explore the Senses

Sensory play equipment provides non-conventional activities geared to suit the play styles of children with autism and other learning difficulties. Games involving tactile play panels and water wall equipment provide a unique set of challenges and stimuli for kids.

Fine motor skills develop naturally through interactions with sensory panels’ spinning dials, moving blocks, and puzzles. You can create a wide range of experiences for students by incorporating movement, sound, and colour into your inclusive play area with these play panels,

A sensory garden gives kids a space to socialise, play together, or bond through parallel play. This allows SEN kids to explore their senses in a safe environment beyond typical, traditional play styles.

Mark-Making and the Importance of Art Activities for SEN Children in School

An important aspect of free flow play to inspire inclusive play and creativity in schools is providing the space for self-expression. Art in schools shouldn’t be limited to paint-by-numbers activities in the classroom. Outdoor giant chalkboards, whiteboards, weaving panels, and painting stations as part of an arts and crafts play area create a fun art area for all sorts of mark-making ideas and activities to flourish.

Mark-making for SEN children includes exploring colour, finding inspiration from their surroundings, or simply having fun with messy play. Mark-making can be an especially beneficial activity for nonverbal autistic children or any child experiencing confidence or communication issues. Finding alternative ways to relate to other children, express their personalities and wants, and have fun is something all schools should encourage in multiple ways.

The benefits of creative play in early years education for these children is a crucial way to create feelings of safety and confidence in themselves as they begin to interact with their peers and adults more as they enter schools. A quiet creative area or noisy fun messy play kitchen area with musical play panels and non-staining surfaces can become places SEN children can feel comfortable expressing themselves and letting off steam away from the classroom environment.

Young children playing with sensory block toys on an outdoor table bench

Role Play Equipment for Imaginative, Inclusive Activities

Activities that utilise role play encourage kids to build social skills and experience all the benefits of cooperative play. Role play panels can inspire new forms of games that inspire imagination and develop communication skills.

Role play shops can be tools to facilitate a greater understanding of the world and fine motor skills development. Working together in a pretend transaction is a favourite activity of many young children, allowing them to express their thoughts and use maths skills independently. With prompting from a role play panel as a framework for play, children can immerse themselves in a repetitive or varied task at their will, providing stimulus based on healthy interaction with peers and utilising different areas of learning together easily in one task.

Incorporating role play and imaginative play activities into EYFS lesson can also be a great new way to benefit learning for children that thrive in more tactile, hands-on environments. Constructing a play stage out on the playground to act out what is being learned in cooperation with other kids. Children can act out stories from English class, or even play pretend to better understand other subjects through movement: grouping up to mime orbiting planets in the solar system or jump around acting out particles being heated up and cooled down into different states of matter.

Children enjoying an inclusive outdoor play stage

Safe, Accessible, Fun Play Environments for All Children

Here at the School Playground Company, we strive to help you create a play space that your students will love. We aim to provide tools and play equipment for kids to discover inspiration and creativity through play.

Get in touch today to begin your journey to your new play area. Fill in our contact form to discuss your options or request a Free Quick Quote from our play equipment experts.

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