When designing a nursery, it is important to consider the tactile and sensory elements that can enhance a child’s experience and development. Tactile elements refer to the sense of touch, while sensory elements encompass all five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. By incorporating these elements into the design, you can create a space that is engaging and stimulating for young children.
Understanding Tactile and Sensory Elements is crucial when designing a nursery. The tactile sense develops in young children, and its purpose is related to physical and emotional health. By creating a space that incorporates different textures, materials, and colours, you can provide a range of tactile experiences that can help develop a child’s sensory processing skills. Additionally, sensory input can be an effective tool for calming and regulating children, making it an important consideration for children with special needs.
Importance in Nursery Design cannot be overstated. A sensory-friendly nursery is designed to consider all of the senses and can be especially beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or sensory processing disorder (SPD). Incorporating different materials, such as soft fabrics, natural wood, and smooth pebbles, can provide a range of tactile experiences. Additionally, the use of sensory toys and a sensory garden can provide a range of sensory input that can help children develop their sensory processing skills.
- Tactile and sensory elements are important considerations when designing a nursery.
- Incorporating different materials, colours, and textures can provide a range of tactile experiences that can help develop a child’s sensory processing skills.
- Sensory-friendly design can be especially beneficial for children with special needs, such as autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorder.
Understanding Tactile and Sensory Elements
When designing a nursery, it is important to consider the tactile and sensory elements in the environment. Tactile refers to the sense of touch, and sensory processing involves the way the brain receives and interprets information from the senses. Sensory play and design can create a stimulating and engaging environment for children to explore and learn.
Textures play a significant role in tactile and sensory elements. Different textures can provide different sensory experiences, such as rough, smooth, soft, and hard. Incorporating a variety of textures into the nursery design can provide children with opportunities for exploration and sensory play. For example, using a mix of materials such as wood, fabric, and natural materials can create a tactile and visually interesting environment.
The sense of touch is important in sensory processing, and tactile activities can be beneficial for children’s development. Tactile activities can include playing with sensory bins, finger painting, and exploring different materials such as sand or water. These activities can help children develop their sense of touch and improve their ability to process sensory information.
Sensory design can also incorporate other senses such as sight, sound, and smell. Using bright colours, patterns, and shapes can create a visually stimulating environment. Incorporating music, nature sounds, or white noise can provide auditory stimulation. Using scents such as lavender or vanilla can create a calming and relaxing environment.
Incorporating tactile and sensory elements into nursery design can provide children with a stimulating and engaging environment for exploration and learning. By considering textures, sensory activities, and sensory design, you can create a space that promotes children’s development and well-being.
Importance in Nursery Design
When designing a nursery, it is important to consider the tactile and sensory elements that can have a significant impact on a child’s development and well-being. Incorporating these elements can create a comfortable and stimulating environment that promotes learning, focus, and positive mood and behaviours.
One of the most significant benefits of tactile and sensory elements in nursery design is their ability to support physical development. Activities that stimulate the senses, such as playing with different textures or exploring sensory materials, can help children develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
In addition to physical development, sensory elements can also help regulate a child’s mood and behaviours. By providing a variety of sensory experiences, such as soft fabrics, bright colours, and soothing sounds, children can learn to regulate their emotions and respond appropriately to different stimuli.
Furthermore, incorporating tactile and sensory elements in nursery design can promote interaction and socialisation among children. Shared sensory experiences can encourage children to explore and learn together, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.
Overall, the importance of tactile and sensory elements in nursery design cannot be overstated. By creating a comfortable and stimulating environment that promotes physical development, regulation, and socialisation, children can thrive and reach their full potential.
Incorporating Different Materials
When it comes to creating a tactile and sensory nursery design, incorporating different materials is key. By using a variety of materials, you can create a multi-sensory experience for your little one that engages their sense of touch, sight, and even smell.
One way to incorporate different materials is by using natural elements such as sand, water, plants, flowers, leaves, bark, smooth stones, moss, and seed pods. These materials not only add texture and visual interest to the space but also provide opportunities for exploration and discovery.
For example, a sensory table filled with sand or water can provide endless hours of tactile play for your child. You can also incorporate plants and flowers into the design, either by placing them in pots or by using them as decorative elements on the walls. Leaves, bark, and seed pods can be used to create interesting textures and patterns, while smooth stones and moss can add a calming and soothing element to the space.
When selecting materials for your nursery design, it’s important to consider safety as well. Make sure that any materials you use are non-toxic and age-appropriate for your child. You should also be mindful of any potential choking hazards and ensure that all materials are securely fastened and out of reach.
Overall, incorporating different materials into your nursery design is a great way to create a tactile and sensory experience for your child. By using natural elements and engaging their sense of touch, sight, and smell, you can create a space that is both beautiful and functional.
The Role of Light and Colour
When designing a sensory-friendly nursery, it’s important to consider the role of light and colour. Light can be used to create a calming atmosphere, promote relaxation, and stimulate the senses. Natural light is especially important as it helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which is essential for healthy sleep patterns.
When choosing colours for a sensory-friendly nursery, warm colours such as reds, oranges, and yellows can create a cozy and inviting environment. However, it’s important to avoid using colours that are too bright or overwhelming as they can overstimulate the senses.
In addition to natural light, artificial lighting can also be used to create a sensory-friendly environment. Soft, diffused lighting can create a calming atmosphere, while coloured lighting can be used to create a stimulating environment. It’s important to choose lighting that is adjustable and can be easily dimmed or brightened to suit the needs of the child.
When designing a sensory-friendly nursery, it’s important to consider the child’s individual needs and preferences. Some children may be sensitive to certain colours or types of lighting, so it’s important to be flexible and willing to make adjustments as needed.
Overall, the role of light and colour in a sensory-friendly nursery is to create a comfortable and stimulating environment that promotes relaxation and sensory exploration. By choosing the right colours and lighting, you can create a space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing for your child.
Sensory Input and Sound
When designing a sensory-friendly nursery, it’s important to consider the impact of sound on the child. Loud or sudden noises can be overwhelming and cause distress to a child with sensory processing difficulties. On the other hand, a lack of sound can also be disorienting. Therefore, it’s important to create a balanced soundscape that provides sensory input without overwhelming the child.
One way to achieve this is by incorporating white noise into the nursery design. White noise is a consistent, low-level sound that can help mask sudden noises and provide a calming background noise for the child. This can be achieved through the use of a white noise machine or a fan.
Another way to incorporate sensory input through sound is by introducing music into the nursery. Soft, calming music can provide a soothing background noise for the child and can also be used to signal different activities throughout the day, such as nap time or play time.
It’s also important to consider the acoustics of the room when designing a sensory-friendly nursery. Hard surfaces can create echoes and amplify sounds, while soft surfaces can absorb sound and create a quieter environment. Therefore, it’s recommended to incorporate soft furnishings such as curtains, rugs, and cushions into the nursery design to help absorb sound and create a more comfortable environment for the child.
Overall, it’s important to create a balanced soundscape that provides the right amount of sensory input without overwhelming the child. Incorporating white noise, soft music, and soft furnishings can all help to achieve this balance.
Creating a Sensory Garden
A sensory garden is a garden designed to stimulate the senses through various elements such as sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. It can be a great addition to any nursery design, providing children with an opportunity to explore and engage with nature. Here are some tips on how to create a sensory garden in your nursery:
Choose the Right Garden Space
When choosing a space for your sensory garden, consider the amount of sunlight, soil type, and drainage. A sunny spot with well-draining soil is ideal for most plants. However, if you have a shaded area, you can still create a sensory garden using plants that thrive in partial shade.
Select the Right Plants
Select plants that are visually appealing, fragrant, and have different textures. Herbs like lavender, rosemary, and mint are great choices for sensory gardens as they release pleasant fragrances when touched. You can also include flowers that bloom in different colours to add visual interest.
Incorporate Sensory Elements
In addition to plants, incorporate sensory elements like bird feeders, wind chimes, and water features. These elements can provide a range of sensory experiences for children. Bird feeders can attract different bird species, while wind chimes create soothing sounds. Water features like fountains or small ponds can provide a calming effect and a chance to observe aquatic life.
Create a Mud Kitchen
A mud kitchen is a great addition to any sensory garden. It provides children with an opportunity to explore different textures and engage in imaginative play. You can create a mud kitchen by using old pots, pans, and utensils. Add some soil and water, and let the children explore and create their own mud pies.
Growing vegetables is a great way to engage children in the garden and teach them about where their food comes from. Vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and peas are easy to grow and can be incorporated into the sensory garden. Children can touch and taste the vegetables as they grow, providing a multi-sensory experience.
In conclusion, a sensory garden can be a great addition to any nursery design. By choosing the right garden space, selecting the right plants, incorporating sensory elements, creating a mud kitchen, and growing vegetables, you can create a space that stimulates the senses and provides a range of learning experiences for children.
Incorporation of Sensory Toys
Incorporating sensory toys in nursery design can be a great way to provide a stimulating environment for children. Sensory toys can help children develop their senses and improve their cognitive and motor skills. Here are some tips on how to incorporate sensory toys in your nursery design:
1. Choose the right toys
When choosing sensory toys for your nursery, it’s important to consider the age range of the children and their individual needs. For younger children, soft toys with different textures can help develop their sense of touch, while older children may benefit from toys that require more dexterity, such as building blocks or puzzles.
2. Provide a variety of textures
Children love exploring different textures, so it’s important to provide a variety of textures in your nursery design. You can incorporate different textures by using materials such as soft fabrics, wooden toys, and plastic toys. You can also include sensory bins filled with materials such as sand, rice, or water for children to explore.
3. Create a dedicated sensory area
Creating a dedicated sensory area in your nursery can be a great way to provide a safe and stimulating environment for children to explore. This area can include sensory toys such as play dough, sensory balls, and sensory boards. You can also include items such as bean bags and cushions for children to relax and unwind.
4. Rotate toys regularly
Children can quickly become bored with their toys, so it’s important to rotate toys regularly to keep them engaged and stimulated. You can do this by introducing new toys every few weeks or by rotating toys between different areas of the nursery.
Incorporating sensory toys in your nursery design can be a great way to create a stimulating environment for children. By choosing the right toys, providing a variety of textures, creating a dedicated sensory area, and rotating toys regularly, you can help children develop their senses and improve their cognitive and motor skills.
Design Considerations for Autism
When designing a nursery for children with autism, it is important to consider their specific sensory needs. Children with autism often have sensory processing difficulties, which can cause them to have an abnormal response to their environment. Here are some design considerations to keep in mind:
Children with autism may become easily overwhelmed and require a safe place to retreat to. Designing a designated safe place within the nursery can help these children feel more secure and calm. This safe place should be a quiet and comfortable area where the child can go to when they feel anxious or overwhelmed.
Including sensory elements within the nursery can help children with autism feel more comfortable and engaged in their environment. Some examples of sensory elements include:
- Soft lighting to reduce glare and harsh shadows
- Warm and calming colours
- Textured surfaces to encourage tactile exploration
- Soft furnishings for comfort
- Visual cues to aid in communication and understanding
Children with autism may be sensitive to loud noises and certain frequencies of sound. It is important to consider acoustic design when creating a nursery for children with autism. Some ways to reduce noise levels include:
- Soundproofing walls and doors
- Using acoustic ceiling tiles
- Installing noise-reducing flooring
- Providing quiet spaces for children to retreat to when necessary
By considering these design elements, you can create a comfortable and safe environment for children with autism.
Influence of Architecture and Built Environment
The design of a nursery’s architecture and built environment can have a significant impact on the tactile and sensory experiences of children. Researchers in the field of environmental psychology have long emphasised the influence that sensory features of the built environment have on us .
Architectural forms and shapes can affect the way children perceive their surroundings. For example, curved walls and soft forms can create a sense of comfort and safety, while sharp edges and angular shapes can evoke feelings of tension and unease . The use of colour and texture can also have a significant impact on the mood and behaviour of children.
In addition to form and texture, the layout of a nursery can also impact children’s sensory experiences. The placement of furniture, toys, and equipment can influence how children interact with their environment. For example, open spaces can encourage exploration and physical activity, while enclosed spaces can provide a sense of privacy and security .
The built environment can also incorporate elements that promote sensory development. For instance, sensory gardens can provide children with opportunities to explore different textures, colours, and smells. Water features, such as fountains and pools, can stimulate the senses of touch and sound. Additionally, the use of natural materials, such as wood and stone, can provide opportunities for tactile exploration .
Overall, the design of a nursery’s architecture and built environment can play a crucial role in shaping children’s sensory experiences. By incorporating elements that promote sensory development and creating a comfortable and engaging environment, nursery designers can help children develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of their surroundings.
 Mehrabian, A., & Russell, J. A. (1974). An Approach to Environmental Psychology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
 Community Playthings. (n.d.). Building design for early years. Retrieved from https://www.communityplaythings.co.uk/learning-library/articles/better-building-design-for-young-children
 Ribaj. (2022). Designing buildings for neurodiversity and sensory impact. Retrieved from https://www.ribaj.com/intelligence/sensory-impact-buildings-and-neurodiversity
The Role of Smell and Taste
When designing a nursery, it is important to consider all the senses, including smell and taste. Smell and taste are closely linked, and both can have a significant impact on a child’s mood, behaviour and overall experience in a nursery.
Smell can be used to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere in a nursery. Essential oils such as lavender and chamomile can be diffused in the air to promote relaxation and sleep. On the other hand, scents such as lemon and peppermint can be used to create an energising and uplifting environment. However, it is important to note that some children may have allergies or sensitivities to certain scents, so it is essential to check for any allergies before introducing any new smells.
Taste can also play a significant role in a child’s experience in a nursery. Children’s taste preferences can vary widely, so it is important to offer a variety of healthy and nutritious snacks and meals to cater to different tastes. Introducing new tastes and textures can also be beneficial in helping children develop healthy food preferences and overcome fussy eating habits.
When planning meals and snacks, it is important to consider any allergies or dietary restrictions that children may have. Providing a variety of options and clearly labelling any potential allergens can help ensure that all children are able to enjoy their meals safely.
Incorporating sensory play activities that involve smell and taste can also be beneficial in helping children develop their senses and explore new experiences. Activities such as smelling different herbs or spices, tasting different fruits and vegetables, or creating sensory bins with different scents and textures can all help children develop their sensory skills and learn about the world around them.
Overall, incorporating smells and tastes into a nursery can have a significant impact on a child’s experience and development. By offering a variety of healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, introducing new tastes and textures, and incorporating sensory play activities that involve smell and taste, you can help create a stimulating and enjoyable environment for children to learn and grow.
Sensory Input and Movement
When designing a nursery, it’s important to consider the sensory input and movement needs of young children. Sensory input is the information that our senses receive from the environment around us. In a nursery, this can include visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile stimuli. Providing a variety of sensory experiences can help children develop their sensory processing skills and promote healthy development.
One way to incorporate sensory input into a nursery is through movement. Movement activities can help children develop their proprioceptive and vestibular senses, which are important for balance, coordination, and body awareness. Some movement activities that can be incorporated into a nursery include:
- Running and jumping games
- Dancing and music activities
- Climbing and crawling activities
- Yoga and stretching exercises
Another way to incorporate sensory input is through tactile experiences. Tactile stimulation involves touch and can include a variety of textures and materials. Providing opportunities for children to explore different textures can help them develop their tactile processing skills. Some tactile experiences that can be incorporated into a nursery include:
- Sensory bins filled with gloop, sand, or rice
- Touch and feel books with different textures and materials
- Fidget toys such as spinners, fidget cubes, poppers, and stress balls
- Different textured materials such as soft fabrics, rough sandpaper, and bumpy foam
Incorporating sensory input and movement activities into a nursery can help create a stimulating and engaging environment for young children. By providing a variety of sensory experiences, you can help children develop their sensory processing skills and promote healthy development.
Incorporating tactile and sensory elements into nursery design is essential for creating a stimulating and engaging environment for young children. By using a variety of textures, colours, and materials, you can help children develop their senses and promote their overall wellbeing.
When designing a nursery, it’s important to consider the different sensory experiences that children will encounter. This includes not only touch, but also sound, smell, taste, and sight. By creating a multi-sensory environment, you can help children develop their cognitive, social, and emotional skills.
Incorporating tactile elements such as soft fabrics, textured surfaces, and sensory toys can help children develop their tactile senses and promote their physical development. Providing opportunities for children to engage in messy play, water play, and other sensory activities can also help them develop their sensory processing skills.
When choosing materials for your nursery, it’s important to consider their safety and suitability for young children. Materials should be non-toxic, durable, and easy to clean. Soft furnishings should be fire-retardant and meet relevant safety standards.
Overall, incorporating tactile and sensory elements into nursery design can help create a stimulating and engaging environment for young children. By providing a variety of sensory experiences, you can help children develop their senses and promote their overall wellbeing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can sensory elements be incorporated into nursery design for children with autism?
Incorporating sensory elements into nursery design for children with autism can be beneficial for their development and well-being. Some effective ways to do this include using sensory-friendly materials like soft fabrics, incorporating sensory walls with different textures and materials, and providing quiet spaces for children to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. Additionally, using calming colours and lighting can also have a positive impact on children with autism.
What are some effective sensory play activities for early years children?
Sensory play activities are a great way to engage early years children and promote their development. Some effective activities include playing with sensory bins filled with different materials like sand, water, or rice, creating sensory bottles with different colours and textures, and playing with playdough or slime. Sensory play activities can help children develop their fine motor skills, language and communication, and social skills.
What are the benefits of having a sensory garden in a primary school?
Having a sensory garden in a primary school can provide a range of benefits for children. Sensory gardens can help children develop their senses, promote relaxation and reduce stress, and encourage physical activity and outdoor play. Additionally, sensory gardens can provide opportunities for children to learn about nature and the environment, and can also be used as a space for outdoor learning and teaching.
What are some low-cost DIY ideas for creating a sensory garden?
Creating a sensory garden doesn’t have to be expensive. Some low-cost DIY ideas include using recycled materials like old tyres or pallets to create raised beds, incorporating natural materials like rocks and logs for children to climb on, and planting a range of herbs and flowers with different textures and scents. Additionally, using low-cost materials like sand and gravel can also be effective in creating sensory areas.
How can sensory areas be implemented in line with EYFS guidelines?
Sensory areas can be implemented in line with EYFS guidelines by providing a range of sensory experiences that are appropriate for children’s age and stage of development. Sensory areas should be safe and accessible for all children, and should be designed to promote exploration and discovery. Additionally, sensory areas should be incorporated into the overall learning environment, and should be used as a tool to support children’s learning and development.
What are some small-scale sensory garden ideas for nurseries with limited outdoor space?
Nurseries with limited outdoor space can still incorporate sensory elements into their design. Some small-scale ideas include creating a sensory wall with different textures and materials, using sensory bins or trays filled with different materials like sand or water, and incorporating sensory-friendly lighting and colours into the nursery environment. Additionally, using natural materials like plants and flowers can also be effective in creating a sensory experience for children.