Outdoor Learning and Play
Boost Your Sensory Play Provision with Pentagon’s Web Shop!
We’re a messy bunch aren’t we? Just being here, doing what we do, getting stuck in and getting on with life. Thank goodness for our sensory systems! Because in one way or another, as we interact and engage with the world around us, they see us all through.
We need our senses to survive, to be safe, to perceive our environment and interact with our surroundings, to communicate with others and to learn how to respond appropriately to all kinds of situations. Having a good command of our senses can bring much joy to life - admittedly sometimes not so much (what on earth have you got on your hand's kiddo?!) - but either way, it’s a necessity!
Although responding in some way to information received through our sensory system is natural human behaviour - finding the appropriate responses often has to be learned, and from a very young age. To do this, children need regular, daily opportunities to explore absolutely everything that their seven senses have to offer.
As always, there really is no better place for children to play and learn than the great outdoors! Your school playground can present the perfect safe space for wonderfully immersive sensory discovery.
Outdoor Play Resources for Stirring the Senses
At Pentagon we specialise in creating innovative outdoor learning products for schools and nurseries that engage, motivate and inspire - expanding their capabilities, broadening their horizons and helping children to gain the most they possibly can from their learning experiences.
As the number one school playground specialist, our ‘Pentagon Play Design and Install Service’ is renowned across the UK. But now with the arrival of our New Online Shop, we are excited to be able to bring some of our favourite products that don’t require a professional on-site installation directly to you. No need, time or budget for a full playground installation? No problem!
Over the past few months we have been adding some of our favourite pieces of Sensory and Messy Play Equipment, including a great collection of our ever-popular Mud, Sand and Water resources, to our Online Shop - so your students don’t have to miss out!
Whether fulfilling the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, satisfying KS1 learning objectives, or simply getting hands-on stuck in to having fun, building friendships, settling into school happily and discovering through their senses all the wonderful things they can do - there’s plenty in our Online Shop to make sure that your students can all get outdoors and enjoy the many benefits of messy and sensory play together.
Why So Sensory?
Messy or sensory play opportunities are simply brilliant for -
Building nerve connections within the brain’s neural pathways, enhancing memory function for learning. Children’s brains are constantly developing and these connections will allow them to continue to complete more complex learning tasks.
Helping children learn to recognise and respond appropriately to sensory input, such as hot and cold or wet and dry substances and surroundings, noise, danger and so on.
Boosting essential life skills such as language and communication, social engagement and interaction, motor development, cognitive growth and the ability to recognise and solve problems.
Calming a frustrated or anxious child, and helping children with specific Special Educational Needs to self-regulate, to engage and improve concentration.
Occupational therapy and physiotherapy - through physical, sensory activities that are designed to normalise sensorimotor planning by improving the way the nervous system registers and interprets sensory information. Therapists can recommend appropriate toys, games, and exercises suitable for an individual child or learning need.
What’s in Store?
When it comes to enhanced learning, both adult-led and child-initiated, there’s plenty on offer in Pentagon’s Online Shop to encourage children to explore and develop their seven senses - touch, sight, sound, taste (really!), smell, movement (the vestibular system) and body awareness (proprioception) - in the school playground.
Multifunctional, multipurpose, marvellously messy and magical to manipulate! Our open-ended outdoor play and learning products are designed to support a broad curriculum that will allow all children to thrive.
Mix it Up with Mud, Sand and Water...
Our Messy Play Pack, featuring our favourite Mud Kitchen, Sand Table and Water Table on Wheels (also available to buy individually), is easily transportable so teachers can move them around to suit the learning environment.
This tactile trio contains everything children need for mixing up mucky mud pies, sifting through sand and splashing around with water. It’s a great set for allowing children to dive in and experiment with texture, and how water can change the feel and behaviour of other materials.
What happens when sand gets soggy and mud becomes mushy? Safe to use warm water for hot/cold experiments and developing their sense of touch.
Add into the mix your choice of our cleverly creative and inventive Flow Table, Water Channels or Damming Stations that allow children to build (and block!) their own watercourses, and there’ll be no stopping them!
Everything is Better Outdoors...
Food always tastes better and is more memorable outdoors! Pull up a pew at one of our interactive Picnic Tables - the perfect place for sensory snack time, learning about nutrition and healthy eating, and discovering exactly what our taste buds have to offer. What are taste buds? What do they do? Do we all respond to taste in the same way?
Gather in groups around our picnic tables for sensory experiments - try a ‘sweet vs sour test’ with food items such as slices of apples and lemons, honey, vinegar etc.
Explore the different textures and scents of each food item, and predict and describe how they taste using appropriate vocabulary. Does everyone have the same sensory reaction to each type of food? Why not try testing the indoor/outdoor theory for yourselves!
Room to Move…
There’s nothing subtle or unseen here. Children need, and love, to keep moving! Our vestibular and proprioceptive systems are known as our ‘sixth and seventh senses’. They can easily be forgotten as we tend to think of our senses, typically, with regard to sound, taste, sight, touch and smell - but they’re incredibly important!
These sensory systems are associated with body movement - our sense of where we are in space and the amount of effort being used to move the body - and can lead to difficulties with balance if they don’t work correctly.
This is where our gallant Get Set, Go! Blocks come in! Our Get Set, Go! collections are now available to buy online, both individually and as part of the Early Years Essentials and Early Years Starter Packs.
Topped with our temptingly tactile Artificial Grass, these climbing and balancing blocks are kind to little hands and knees that like to crawl, climb and jump from one to the next. Set them up as an obstacle course any which you like to help them improve their balance, coordination and positional awareness.
Sound It Out…
Good for the soul - any sensory garden worth its salt needs rich and mellow sounds to engage the ears! For the many magnificent benefits of music-making, our talented products team have developed an outstanding range of fully-tuned outdoor musical instruments that will encourage children to have fun experimenting with sound and help to fine-tune their auditory systems.
Our auditory system identifies the direction, type and quality of sound, and what that sound means to us.
A child who struggles with auditory processing may not be able to properly identify the sound, or block out background noise. While some children may be sensitive to loud noises, others might be easily distracted by softer noises.
It can make concentrating in busy environments very difficult, and they may need to have instructions repeated often. Finding ways to help develop the auditory system through play is really important - and enjoying music outdoors is ideal as the sound doesn’t have to be overwhelming. On the other hand, those who want to let rip can really go for it!
Look and Please DO Touch!...
A feast for the eyes and a fiesta for the fingers - messy and sensory play is all about getting hands-on! Children ‘look’ with their hands as much as their eyes - it’s a fundamental feature of their learning and development. Even just for building some of the very basic skills of being a human, they need opportunities to poke, prod and test things out as much as they possibly can!
This basic principle runs through everything we do. We design our products to appeal to children’s senses - to capture their attention, to spark their interests, to fuel their imaginations and to be ‘child handled until the cows come home!
Never forgetting all the sensory ‘stuff’ that you want your EYFS children to be able to explore from day to day - small-world toys, colourful blocks, natural materials, general gloop and goo and all the rest too! We have super sturdy, easy-to-clean, freestanding, movable Tuff Spot Tables, connecting Messy Play Tables and Construction Tables available to order from our Online Shop. You’ll never be short on space to spread everything out and get the investigations going!
We hope you enjoy taking a look around our Online Shop! You can order online today by clicking HERE, and if you need any support or would like more information about our products and services, please do get in touch.