!--Tradedoubler site verification 1264796 -->

Posts Tagged ‘free sensory play ideas’

Sensory Stories for Children and Teens – The Book!

Sensory Stories: A Practical Guide

Sensory Stories: A Practical Guide

Launch of New book: how to create your own sensory stories for children and teens with special educational needs

We’re really pleased to share the fantastic news that Joanna Grace, who we have worked with on several occasions and backed her Kickstarter campaign last year, has a book out very soon! Joanna is the name behind The Sensory Story Project and has done fantastic work for many years developing her project and her works for a wide range of people with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

We have talked about Sensory Stories in depth previously but couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off how amazing they are once again, especially as this book is due out in just a few days.

Sensory Stories Kickstarter

Back in May 2013, The Sensory Story Project successfully funded their Kickstarter campaign, gaining over £5,000 in funding. This money was put towards the development of a range of sensory stories that could be adapted and used in different environments for different disabled adults and children. The Kickstarter was a huge success and allowed Joanna to continue her work and keep writing and developing the stories which have provided so much for so many people.

We love that sensory stories are a fun, social way of enjoying storytelling that can be enjoyed by the whole family or classroom and that, if used with a bit of knowhow, can open up communication for people with profound disabilities. Joanna recommends sharing the stories on a one to one basis for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, and adds how well the stories are suited to being presented on a Trabasack.

The Sensory Story Project: The Book

The Sensory Stories for Children and Teens with Special Educational Needs: A Practical Guide book has been designed as a practical guide and is to be published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers on the 28th of October (Amazon are currently open for advanced orders). The book begins with a simple explanation of what sensory stories are and expands considerably on this point, providing an indispensable guide for practitioners. Joanna provides an overview of the research backing for the stories, looking at the importance of sensory stimulation and narrative for cognitive development and inclusion.  There are chapters on how the stories can be used to support individuals with a wide range of needs, including those with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, Sensory Processing Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Communication difficulties, Memory problems, physical impairments and mental health difficulties. Joanna gives clear guidance on how to tell the stories to maximise their benefits for your story experiencer and gives useful ways to record progress and achievement. And of course the book has five new stories in it which should suit a range of interests and ages. Each story is supported with six lesson plans for schools who want to use the stories to facilitate learning, or for people to dip into if they want to do activities following on from sharing a story.

Sensory stories require imagination and are designed to delight the senses in a simple and effective way, as this example shows:

 

Rave Reviews already published

Although the book won’t be hitting the book shop shelves for a week or two, a few lucky folk have had the chance to take a sneak peak and positive reviews are already out there.

Flo Longhorn (Principal Consultant in Multisensory & special education author, great grandmother and beekeeper, and fellow backer of The Sensory Story Project) provided the forward for the book, saying in it: “This book tells a sensory story. It is for the seeker of sensory knowledge, looking for substantial ideas with which to plunge into new worlds of sensory story telling. Each chapter offers a wealth of ideas and knowledge including themes and ideas that could be placed at the core of a curriculum for special learners.”

James Gordon, an autism advocate and parent, has described the book as ‘vital reading for every special needs parent and teacher’. Gill Warren, the English coordinator at Sir Charles Parsons School, which provides care and education for pupils with severe learning difficulties and associated physical disabilities described it as ‘Take a pinch of glitter, a peck of spice, a splash of water, pebbles, a torch and noise makers; add the guiding spell of this book and we are ready. Through inspirational ideas, clearly and simply explained, Jo shows how everyone, including those with the most profound needs, can share and learn through the deep magic of stories. I wish this book had been around years ago when I first began teaching students with profound learning difficulties.’

With reviews so positive already published, we’re sure this book will have a profound influence on the wider special educational needs community.

Sensory Stories and Trabasack

Trabasack Sensory Stories

Sensory Story & Trabasack

We have worked with Joanna on several occasions and had the opportunity to hear all about how effective Sensory Stories can be.  As mentioned above sensory stories are best delivered one on one allowing the individual enjoying the story to interact and get involved with the story on their own terms. The picture above shows the Princess Esme story (one of the ones we backed the creation of) being told on a Trabasack – a perfect fit!

We are really looking forward to reading and using the book with our son Joe Sensory Stories for Children and Teens with Special Educational Needs: A Practical Guide’ and are sure it will be a big success.

 

Personal Message from Joanna

I am so excited that this book is being published. The initial aim of the Sensory Story Project was to create five stories. Without the project backers these stories could never have been created. When I finally finished them I wrote to all the backers liking their donation of funds to the project to a penny thrown in a wishing well. The project backers are an amazing group of people and organisation and I think we all have the same hopes and wishes for inclusion. I wondered in that message where the ripples from those coins might spread, and over the past year I’ve been staggered to find out just how far they roll. The Sensory Story Project has enabled so many people to be trained in how to use sensory stories, from Early Years Practitioners to people working in Adult Care. Sensory Stories to support postural care have been created and are being used as far away as Hong Kong. Practitioners from around the globe, most recently Portugal and New Zealand have been in touch to get support and advice for the people they support. In the summer Kensington Palace commissioned The Sensory Story Project to create a sensory tour of the King’s State Apartments, opening up the palace for people with learning disabilities, dementia and mental health difficulties. The Sensory Story Project has also been working with people who specialise in dementia care to create sensory life stories for people as they begin their journey into dementia. I couldn’t pick a favourite thing that’s happened since the launch, every day I wake up delighted that this is what I get to do. Certainly some of the most moving moments have been hearing feedback from people who have used the stories and opened up communication with individuals with profound disabilities. Next year I’ll be delivering training around the UK, I’m looking forward to each date. Sharing the stage with Flo Longhorn and Richard Hirstwood will be real pinch me moments for me, and in August I’m doing a whole weekend at a residential retreat centre, fabulously the Quakers are subsidising this course so that delegates will be able to have their bed and breakfast paid for and attend the whole course for a little over £200 I’m hoping that a real mix of people will attend, I might even bring my new little assistant – he’s proving very useful assessing what makes a high quality sight experience.

Joanna Grace's baby boy and her stories

Joanna has lots more information and many free resources at her website http://jo.element42.org/ Highly recommended!

Good Luck Blossom for Children – a Funky Online Sensory Toy Shop

Good Luck Blossom for Children – a Funky Online Sensory Toy Shop

The Trabasack team love supporting new ventures in the disability sector, especially when they’re beneficial for children living with disabilities. Blossom for Children is a fantastic new concept. It’s an online shop which offers a range of funky, fashionable and vibrant books, toys, aids and clothes. They were set up to generate income for the Tree of Hope charity but also to provide families and children living with special needs with the equipment and toys they deserve.

What’s in Stock?

Hannah Ensor's Biscuit Baking

Hannah Ensor’s Biscuit Baking

Blossom for Children has a wide range of fantastic and carefully selected stock. Many of the products are universal and they include some of our favourites from EasyBelts to funky wheelchair gloves. Their range of books is brilliant, including titles from one of our favourite author and illustrators Hannah Ensor.

They also stock some really great colourful alternatives to the standard NHS equipment provided including bright crutches and tripods.

The shop is split into four distinct sections:

  • Clothing
  • Toys and Books
  • Mobility
  • At Home
Trabasack Curve in Action at Blossom for Children

Trabasack Curve in Action at Blossom for Children

Each of these section has a range of items which are designed to improve and aid independence. The toys section is packed with sensory play equipment and toys which can aid development as well as just being great fun. Some of the items do cross over so having a look at the whole range is recommended.

The At Home section also usefully contains a couple of books for parents and carers to help them too with the journey to diagnosis and supporting a child with special educational needs.

They also stock the Trabasack Curve Connect as a bundle offer and have put together this brilliant instructional video showing just how simple and easy to use the product really is:

Tree of Hope

The Tree of Hope Charity is dedicated to transforming the lives of sick children and providing the support needed to their families to do this. The charity works hard to raise funds so they can provide the support needed to families across the UK.

They work to provide grants to enable children to access the medical treatments, surgeries, therapies and equipment needed to help them flourish. Without the support of Tree of Hope the majority of these children wouldn’t have the support at all.

At Trabasack we’re really pleased to see more dedicated online retailers providing equipment and enjoyment for children with disabilities. Blossom for Children has a range of stock which will appeal to children with a range of different  difficulties and makes accessing some products easier than ever before.

We want to wish Blossom for Children all the best and am sure we will see their business thrive and grow! Take a look at their shop now and please tell us what you think in the comments below!

Toy Buying Guide for Disabled Children

Toy Buying Guide for Disabled Children

There are many things to take into consideration when you’re buying toys for disabled children, including their personal capabilities and the specification of the toy in question. We have previously talked about making  your own sensory toys, but what are the questions to ask when buying them?

Is the toy multisensory?
Does it flash, make noise or offer different textures? Does it have a unique scent or structure?

Can the toy be activated easily?
Will your child be able to play with the toy independently? Is it easy to trigger?

Does the toy appeal?
Does it tie-in with popular TV shows or characters?  Is it something children can relate to?

Is the toy age appropriate?
Is it designed for the right age group? Does it fit both mentally and physically with your child’s abilities and age

Does the toy allow for self-expression?
Is it designed to allow for creativity and decision making? Does it give your child chance to encounter different media sources?

These are just a few points you need to consider as well as adjustability and durability too.

Sensory Toys for Disabled Children

Flashing, Musical Tambourine

Sensory toys appeal to many of the body’s sense and are great for disabled children who may rely on some senses more than others. Sensory toys can be designed to focus on a single sense such as sight or sound but often aim to trigger responses from a few. Pictured is a fun flashing tambourine, which both flashes and makes musical noises and is a great example of a sensory toy. Others include fun bubble machines and colourful flashing toys such as this Colour Changing Egg.

Switch Toys for Disabled Children

Inflatable Switch-Adapted R2D2

Children who require some assistance with accessing toys can use specialised switches. Switches mean that toys become easily accessible and fun to use. Switch adapted toys can be purchased from specialist retailers in most instances and allow regular toys to be enjoyed by children with disabilities. We’ve recently see switch adapted talking teddies and bongo drums as well as this fantastic switch adapted inflatable R2D2 (pictured). Locating switch-adapted toys can be more difficult than others but they’re worth the additional work for the increased usability and entertainment factors.

If your child uses switches, you may want to visit Switchmounting.com to get a free pdf guide to using switches for sensory play, gaming and communication.

Musical Toys for Disabled Children

Soft Chime Garden Sensory Toy

Musical toys are great fun for children of any age and although they might drive parents a little crazy, it’s more than worth it for the smiles and laughter they create. The range of accessible musical toys on the market is vast, whether children can use them independently or with support. We recommend this fab Conga Drum and Rainbomaker. Pictured is the charming Lamaze Soft Chime Garden which is popular with children of all ages and makes a range of different musical sounds with the slightest touch. It works very well with the trabasack media mount as it can be held at different angles for different children’s needs.

Trabasack for Toys

Your Trabasack lap tray is the perfect surface for accessing musical, sensory and switch toys for disabled children. As the photographs show it can be used for a range of different toys and

Trabasack Curve, Media Mount and Dinosaur Toy

the Trabasack Media Mount is perfect for holding toys in the ideal position to maximise play and entertainment value.

 

Trabasack Xmas Special Bundle Offer

We’re pleased to announce we’re currently offering a Curve Connect bundle deal, perfect for use as a sensory play tray with all the accessories you need including a Media Mount, non-slip mat and additional hook tapes for securing toys in place, at £44.95, this saves over £30 on the usual price of all the items combined and will help your child enjoy more from their toys this xmas!

Click for more info on using the Trabasack Media Mount as a Toy Holder

Have you heard of Steps Charity?

Have you heard of Steps Charity?

Steps Logo

Steps Charity loans sensory toys to children of all ages and abilities. They have a postal lending library and also adapt toys by request for switch use.

Steps Charity is a registered UK organisation that believes that every day can be a play day for children with additional needs who cannot play independently. They work with mainstream toys to adapt them to individual children’s needs, creating uniquely designed toys perfect for your child. These toys are generally operated by an external switch that the Steps team personally develop to meet your child’s needs. For example, for a child with limited dexterity, they may create a switch that only needs to be lightly touched or perhaps one that can be blown or sucked.

The best thing about the work at Steps do is that they try to adapt any toy you want. If your child is a mad Rory the Racing Car fan, you can tell the Steps Charity the details of the toy you have in mind and they can find out whether it’s something that can actually adapt and then begin working for you, once you send them the toy of course. Steps are committed to focussing on what your child CAN DO and working with their skills to create a toy which they can fully enjoy and develop with. Every day can be play day with the help of Steps.

Sensory Toy Lending Library

A Steps Charity Sensory Switch

As well as regular switches, Steps can provide special sensory switches which are known to be great for offering multi-sensory stimulation for children with PMLD and also children who have significant hearing or visual impairments. As the picture shows, these switches are extremely bright and tactile, with music, lights and vibrations. They are designed as sensory toys in their own right but can also be linked to a specific external toy and used separately when required. The technology involved really is special and is something that many children already have benefitted from.

Steps Charity has a Facebook page and they are always looks for membership support to back up their campaign because they believe that every child deserves play time and we agree. The Trabasack team have a personal debt to Steps Charity. The co-founder’s son, Joe, has Dravet Syndrome and PMLD and has benefited from many years membership of the library, he has enjoyed many different toys that have been adapted for switch use.

 Visit the Steps Charity website

 

Play Dough Recipes: Sensory Toys for your Trabasack Play Tray

Make your own gloops and doughs for sensory play

There are endless possibilities for creating an exciting and enjoyable sensory play day for your child. Utilising your Trabasack Sensory Play Tray as a stable and secure surface to work from, you can really create anything you want. We previously looked at playing with water and ice, here we’ve collected some fun and safe ideas for creating your own dough. Fantastic for squelching, squashing and even (in some cases) tasting. Creating a range of doughs with different consistencies and properties is a great way of introducing different textures and feelings to your child and your Trabasack is the perfect platform to begin from.

Preparing your Trabasack

Use your non-slip Trabasack mat to keep the surface clean

This could get messy so remember to use your Trabasack non-slip mat to keep it clean and fresh. The mat wipes clean and if you do have any spillages remember you can simply put your play tray in the washing machine and it’ll be like new within a short spin. Of course, ensure the Trabasack is safely secured to your child’s buggy, wheelchair or safely around their waist and then the fun can begin.

Preparing your Doughs

There are literally hundreds of dough recipes out there and we thought we’d get together a few that are quite different from each other, to give the widest range of textures, colours and different sensory experiences:

Clean Mud: 1 bar of soap, 1 roll of toilet paper, 4 litres of water (makes a lot)
Layer the toilet paper in a tub, grate the soap on top and then add the water, mix up, leave overnight and you can squish and squash to your heart’s content in the morning

Fruity Putty: 1 packet of jelly powder, 250g flour, 1 tbsp cooking oil, 2 tbsp hot water – cook this all up in a pan to create a colourful, jelly ball of putty

Corn Flour Dough: 125g corn flour, 125ml warm water, 1 tbsp natural/baby oil – cook this up in a pan, choosing an oil with a strong flavour to add the additional aroma to the sensory experience. This produces a shiny, slick dough.

Play Time

With these three doughs, with their very different consistencies you can create shapes, balls, patties, whatever you want and your child can feel the different properties and enjoy the whole experience fully. These are just three of many doughs out there but they create a great range of different sensory experiences including the pleasant aroma of the corn flour dough, the sticky mess of the clean mud and of course, the bright colours of the fruit putty. We wouldn’t recommend you eat any of these products but they won’t cause you any harm and if you’re more interested in edible doughs, there are plenty out there.

There is a useful video with another recipe for coloured doughs here:

Using your Trabasack play tray as a base for exploring different sticky substances is a great way of enjoying your sensory time and it’s so quick and easy it’s really worth giving a go. For those of you who want to cheat, click here!

 

Sensory Play Tray Uses: Water and Ice

Free ideas for sensory play: Water and Ice

We know about the value of sensory play for children with special educational needs and have looked at homemade sensory toys in another article. We will now look a more free ideas for entertaining your child. Your Trabasack Sensory Play Tray can be used innovatively to introduce many different sensory experiences to your children and it’s perfectly designed to allow for fun and messy play as well as more scripted and controlled sessions. Why not consider using your Trabasack to introduce your child to water and ice and experience the differences?

Water and Ice Play

Trabasack Non-Slip Mat protects your play tray

Utilising a Trabasack Non-Slip Mat, you can protect your Trabasack’s soft surface and ensure it is secured around your child’s waist, to their buggy or to their wheelchair, wherever you choose to play. Once everything’s in place the fun can begin.

What you’ll need:

  • Ice Cubes
  • Small Tub of Water
  • Crushed Ice

You could also add in winter themed or water themed toys such as small boats or plastic toy animals.

Introducing each element individually, guide your child to feel and experience the differences between the three substances. Loads of fun can be had splashing in the water, trying to pick up ice cubes and you could even make mini snowballs out of the crushed ice. The secure Trabasack surface means you won’t have to worry about anything getting dropped. You could create a snowy winter scene with crushed ice mountains or try floating the ice cubes in your tub of water. The fun that can be had with ice and water is really vast and it’s a great way of introducing a range of different sensory experiences to your child.

Benefits of Water and Ice Play

Investigate the properties of ice

If you’re considering using water and ice in an educational setting, you can show children the differences between the two substances and give them the opportunity to feel these differences in their own time and it’s like having your own water play table in a safe, reachable difference. The Trabasack surface is protected by its non-slip mat and you can be sure your child will be having tons of fun and experiencing something beneficial to their development, understanding and of course entertainment.

Your Trabasack play tray really is an extremely flexible accessory which you can use in many ways to enhance and further your child’s sensory experiences.