White Paper

Sensory Play: The Why, How and What of Sensory Playgrounds

New research from the KOMPAN Play Institute on the benefits of Sensory Play in playgrounds

“Play consists of adaptive responses which make sensory integration happen” – A. J. Ayres, 1979

What is sensory play? Have you ever wondered about the way our senses inform our language? When we understand or realize something, we see it. When we get emotional, we feel it. People depend on sensory input and the associated response.

Sensory play is a part of all forms of play - We touch, see, hear, smell, and taste. But to researchers, the concept of sensory play includes two additional senses and/or systems. The science behind sensory integration in childhood development also includes the kinesthetic and vestibular systems, which are crucial for moving our bodies confidently through our surroundings.

White Paper

Sensory play - The why, how and what of sensory stimulating playgrounds

Download White Paper
8 ideas for sensory playground designs

8 Ideas for sensory playground designs

  1. The natural surroundings of outdoor playgrounds - from the choice of surfacing and planting to the actual play equipment - can provide rich sensory play opportunities.

  2. For play equipment, think of surfaces that provide varied structures, temperatures, and densities in materials.

  3. Think of play details and equipment that respond to movement, for instance, soft flaps or smooth scoops that run in grooves.

  4. Combine the tactile input with visuals or sounds - Moiré patterns, dichroic effects, or rhythm sound and tonal equipment can provide that.

  5. Responsive surfaces such as rollers, or textured surfaces such as turf or rubber flaps, stimulate the sense of touch, especially for Special Education Needs playgrounds.

  6. Pay attention to the soothing or invigorating effects of body pressure with differently textured hammocks or other moving surfaces to lie on, both in busy and quiet corners of the playground.

  7. Tactile and visual play elements that can provide movement, tactile response, and creative play are fantastic. This is where the roller log panels or hammocks come into play - children can create patterns or form messages with them.

  8. Sensory play in sensory-motor integration - stimulation of the vestibular and kinesthetic systems can be created with bouncy nets, swings, spinners, slides, seesaws, etc.

The research around play | Webinars & White Papers

a children's play area with children playing on the playground.

A Design Checklist for Success with Inclusive Playgrounds


Corporate Content

White Paper

Adventurous children climbing over natural playground structures

8 ways to encourage nature play in playgrounds

Tweens love playgrounds: 5 new science-based practice tips for school playground design

Tweens love playgrounds

saturn playground schools and public parks

10 design tricks for age appropriate playgrounds for schools and public parks

truly inclusive section

Truly inclusive - the reward of thrill in universal play designs

The cover of a book about playground equipment

Families love thrilling and sensory playgrounds

Intrigued children participating in sensory play on a playground

Sensory Play: Science behind child wellbeing in playgrounds

Excited children playing on an inclusive playground

A Design Checklist for Success with Inclusive Playgrounds

Unleashing Creativity: Building Unique Playgrounds with KOMPAN Design Studio

A couple of girls climbing on KOMPAN play equipment.

Climbing activates tween girls - How to increase tween girls' physical activity

Play Value - The Influence of Playground Equipment

Innovative products - The key to more play

The risk-benefit equation of challenging playgrounds

Play for All - Universal Designs for Inclusive Playgrounds

Equality in play - Survey on playground use in children with disabilities

Physical Activity Among Preschool Children

Energy expenditure on a KOMPAN school age playground

Play value increases with sensory play

Unique Play Designs - Increase play duration

The more thrilling playground

Nature play and natural playgrounds

More play and no conflicts

Sign up to our newsletter

Get updated with news, inspiration and offers right in your inbox.