From the day children can crawl, they're on a mission to explore the world around them – and not just with their eyes.
Promoting opportunities to develop this curiosity, as well as channeling sensory experiences in a safe and controlled environment, provides a vital springboard from which young people have so much to learn.
Here, we'll have a look at three sensory playground equipment ideas that will keep kids engaged, and teach them more about the environment that surrounds them.
Musical equipment in playgrounds
Making and listening to music has been shown to have benefits for people at all stages of life, and the opportunities to learn from this creative practice start at an early age. According to Playgroup New South Wales, there are numerous ways that music can aid in the development of toddlers:
- Literacy and numeracy skills – After just a few weeks of life, a baby is able to distinguish its mother's voice from others. By exposing children to music, you're supporting the next step in helping them decode sounds and words – a process of pattern learning that provides the basis for reading and understanding numbers.
- Improved brain development – Hearing different sounds helps build pathways in the cells of a child's brain.
- Build coordination – As music often goes hand in hand with dancing, children can also develop their motor skills by moving to the beat!
- Improved mood – Research has suggested that music can significantly impact our mood, and children are no exception – making music has the potential to be a hugely fun, satisfying and engaging activity.
Product tip: A great option for including musical equipment in your playground is the Baby Floor Piano, made by Percussion Play. This all-weather outdoor floor piano lets participants find their inner Mozart as they dance and hop along the keys. Despite its space-saving size, there's more than enough room for children to team up for those trickier compositions.
It's important when including audio elements in your playground to consider kids who might not like loud noises, or who could become over stimulated. Incorporating quiet zones is a great way to allow these individuals to take a break from the noise.
Tactile equipment in playgrounds
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, and becomes a favourite way for children to investigate the world around them. Including tactile elements into your sensory playground is easy, and can also be a way to foster inclusive play between kids of differing ages and abilities.
Here are a few of our top tips:
- Climbing nets – Hanging nets such as the Berliner Vario Net offer opportunities for children to climb, balance, and explore. These activities not only encourage children to work together to overcome obstacles, but also strengthen muscles, and improve coordination and motor skills.
- Simulators – Playworld's 'KPE: Kid Powered Energy' is a range of exhilarating products that bring the fun of video games into the real world, outside. One of our favourites is 'Drive Away', a standing driving simulator which features a range of interactive gadgets such as horns, ignition and a steering wheel. This one is guaranteed to capture the imagination.
- Slides – The slide has been a staple of playground equipment for years, but with the modern age comes twists to this classic piece of kit. One such example comes from Playworld, whose Roller Slither Slide contains aluminium rollers to add an extra sensory experience as children slide down.
Sensory water playground equipment
Many of us won't remember our first encounters with water, but to children this is an exciting new substance with which they need to familiarise themselves. As well as providing hours of fun, play involving water has lots to offer kids, including confidence building, communication and sensory development.
At Playrope we partner with Vortex, a world-leading supplier of aquatic play equipment. Among their products are:
- Splashpad® – This is particularly effective at achieving different sensory effects. Children can experience varying water sensations such as jets, mists and flows, with a choice of 250 features in total.
- Water Journey™ – Focused at the 2-5 age group, Water Journey is a fantastic adventure experience. The seven elements of this feature are inspired by nature and allow children to shape the landscapes of their play. Realistic currents, sprays and stepping stones let participants' imaginations run wild!
With so many great products out there, it's never been easier to engage kids with sensory play. To find out more about how Playrope can help you design and source equipment for your next playground, get in touch with our team today.