“Playtime can be a sensory overload for some students, and while lots of children enjoy a good tear around to burn off some energy ready for learning (we hope), others would rather use their break as a time to quieten down, play a board game or perhaps read a book." Ben Shears, Playforce Outdoor Grounds Consultant
Most schools already have the facilities for children to do the former, but many schools are not yet able to provide a space outside where children can enjoy a calming moment. However, an area outside without fear of a ball flying over or other children racing through still needs something for children to engage with.
Colours, sounds, different textures and smells can help children to feel at ease and focus their attention. For example, a child could enjoy walking through a sensory trail of panels with portholes filtering coloured light, run their fingers along hard, soft, rough, smooth textures, maybe take a moment to stop, and play a peg game or trace a maze to help with mindfulness. With the addition of planters for flowers, fruit and vegetables, you can also introduce different smells (and even tastes if growing edible fruit and vegetables!).
Take a look at this example of playground design which incorporates sensory elements for some inspiration: