Inside you’ll find: The best outdoor sensory toys for seekers, avoiders and everyone in between!
19th century English educator Charlotte Mason had a wise motto: “Never be within doors when you rightly can be without.”
The benefits of outdoor play are numerous and well researched. The calming effect of nature is undeniable. Studies have consistently shown the benefits to stress levels, heart rates, mood and hormones!
While homeschoolers and kids in general will benefit from more time outdoors, for kids with sensory issues, it’s essential!
The opportunities for tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular input are multiplied in the great outdoors.
While there are plenty of ways to get sensory input for free, you can turn your backyard into a sensory haven with a couple of these outdoor sensory toys.
Outdoor Sensory Toys:
If you ask the parent of a seeker, “What’s your child’s favorite sensory equipment?” nine times out of ten they’ll respond, “The trampoline!”. There’s a reason the trampoline is popular. While it’s ridiculously fun to bounce around like you’re walking on the moon, the sensory input kids get while jumping in astounding! Think about all the proprioceptive input they get in their joints as they press deep into the trampoline. Then their vestibular system gets a thrill as they shoot into the air (and maybe do a flip or two). Most parents find that a trampoline is an essential sensory tool.
These things are amazing! Swings can be calming or stimulating and there are so many sensory swing options out there for every need. This one is cool because multiple people can fit on it (holds up to 700 lbs) and kids can sit up, lie down, lie prone on their belly and more! It’s a sensory therapy dream!
Don’t have a big tree in your back yard? No problem, there are free standing stands that you can attach swings to! Who knew!
This simple toy gets a TON of use in our backyard. Climbing is a wonderful way to get proprioceptive input to the joints. As kids hang upside down or reach new heights, they’ll also be engaging their vestibular system. My boys often turn this into a fort and it gets used daily.
Had to include this photo when my middle son was so much littler! Oh my heart!
Not sure what your kids will like? This variety set has so many options. Lots of ways to challenge their balance, swing, climb and hang. Who knows? You could be raising the next ninja warrior!
Cargo Net Feel like a pirate or a lost boy while climbing these! Fun to hang all over the place. These really help improve core strength as well, which has all sorts of sensory benefits.
Rock Climbing Holds I love how versitle these climbing holds can be. Use them indoors or out. Screw them onto trees, fences or structures you create (check out pinterest for ideas). Get creative and create your own climbing wall or cave!
Live in the city and don’t have logs to balance on? These create really fun ways to challenge kids balance while they pretend they’re traversing lava or walking the plank.
Regardless of whether you can create a sensory wonderland with all the latest equipment, or simply have some grass and a tree, encourage your kids to get outside, and you will all reap the sensory benefits.