Sensory Circuits in Nature

Emily Whiteley, In-between the Trees

This April, we held an evening CPD workshop at Bents Green School called 'Sensory Circuits in Nature' as part of the Special School Creative Community, attended by teaching staff from a range of special schools within the city and local artists with experience in SEND.

We explored sensory integration in a general sense and focussed on the specific needs of young people we work with. We covered the key principles of sensory circuits as a motor processing programme and then everyone took part in a variety of activities adapting them for outside using natural materials. Participants came up with exciting original ideas and we had great fun sharing!

Feedback at the time was positive with participants saying it was useful to be able to really personalise the activities to individual interests and needs. One very experienced TA has said how it has helped them to create simple circuits working in the moment.

“The training has given me the confidence to follow the students’ lead without feeling the need to set up special equipment, especially when we are outside. For example, walking along walls for the organising section. What is interesting is that our students know what they want which always follow the principles of the sensory circuit and helps them to calm down.”

My main message is to keep it simple and keep using it!

Other feedback has come from a member of staff who has since set up circuits in a local park to use with Post-16 students. They said one particularly anxious student who is very difficult to engage really enjoyed it. My main message is to keep it simple and keep using it!

Since the workshop, it has been fantastic to see Bents Green School using the activities with their own young people. 

“Bents Green School staff could see immediately the relevance of the training in sensory circuits to their students and how it would be implemented in the school. The training incorporated many aspects of teaching their students about nature, their surroundings and how to enjoy and interact with them" Juliette, Bents Green School

What's next?

In the future it would be good to have a follow-up session where we share what we have used and evaluate together. I think I will incorporate sensory circuits into my sessions more often, therefore building capacity for support colleagues and raising self-awareness for young people.

Learn more

This Story was written by Outdoor Learning and Forest School expert, Emily Whiteley.

You can learn more about the Special School Creative Community on their website, where they exhibit the work of their students.

You can also take part in Emily Whiteley's Sensory Circuits Sheffield Adventure

Let us know if you were inspired by this work and have used sensory circuits with the children and young people in your own community. We would love to hear from you.