Everybody Outdoors (PMLD/ Complex Needs)

Everybody Outdoors: Inclusive Approaches to Accessing the Outdoors

This resource is in the form of films and accompanying PDFs which support PMLD and Complex Needs teachers in facilitating access to the outdoors. Starting with the Sensory Seasons Story from there you can follow the journeys of some of the characters, and explore the different coloured resources for tips and ideas for developing opportunities for your students in nature. This might be using outdoor spaces as an extension to the classroom but also gives you scope to bring the outdoors in. In designing these resources we worked with our partner, Addington School and are incredibly thankful for all the contributions their staff and students have made in helping us in their development.

Sensory opportunities covered in these resources:

  • Reflection, light and touch
  • Smell and texture
  • Sound, air and texture
  • Sound, smell and touch
  • Self directed learning opportunities


We hope this resource will equip PMLD and Complex Needs teachers with ideas which are responsive and adaptable. Using the resource, students will have opportunities to:

  • Engage in a range of multi-sensory experiences to explore the outdoors and the environment
  • Have opportunities to make choices
  • Engage in opportunities which promote the love and wonder of nature
  • Experience activities whatever the weather, with options to bring the outside in with indoor and outdoor engagement opportunities

Starting Point: The Seasons Story

Inspired by our Seasons Story, follow the journeys of some of our characters and enjoy a range of different multi-sensory experiences with your students.

Brown Resource: Smell and Texture


Teacher tips: “Pupils have been using the boxes to develop exploration skills with varied support (hand over hand to independent) They have shown preferences by smiling, pulling hands away etc and over time have become more accepting of the experience.

Some pupils are using the photos to make a choice of which box they want. There is definitely preferences shown through this method.”

Blue Resource: Reflection, Light and Touch


Teacher tips: “The light coming through the crystals has made lovely patterns over our classroom and pupils are placed near the rainbow so they can see it on their body or on their work trays.”

Green Resource: Sound, Smell, Touch and Taste


Teacher tips: “We have used this resource for shared exploration and explored lights, sounds and smells together. This helps to bring the outside world to the pupils and closes in the space to explore using the senses. Pupils have reached out to explore the fabric and also used their visual skills to see the material moving or light reflecting on it. We also use it as a canopy for our pupils who use beds in class. They are able to have some time under the canopy to experience the sights and feel of the materials. ”

“We have used the lap xylophones with pupils who have good fine motor skills for independent exploration. They feel the textures and use the frame as an instrument to tap/bang.

We use it hand over hand with some pupils to feel the textures.”

Orange Resource: Sound, Air and Texture


Gold Resource: I choose my own journey


If you would like to explore with a member of The MERL learning team opportunities to use these resources as part of a facilitated visit to the museum and in the museum garden, please contact the Learning and Engagement Manager at merlevents@reading.ac.uk