Posts Tagged ‘sensory toys’
Make Your Own Mirror Cube Sensory Play Area
Homemade toys are amongst the best for your kids as they give you the chance to bring together everything they love best. More than that – they’re affordable.
This post is a quick tutorial of how to make your own version of the Softie Mirror Exploratory style toy, great for a wide range of sensory experiences. The original toy retails at around £69.99 but with this tutorial you should be able to make it for less than £30, and you can make yours much bigger too!
We found this innovative idea on the Facebook Group: Special Needs Equipment ~ Buy Sell Swap and we thought it was too good not to share. Mirrors are an important tool for helping your child’s cognitive development, recognising themselves and understanding angles and reflections, as well as being great fun!
What you need
To make this toy you’ll need:
- 1 Foam Letter Puzzle or standard TLCmat® Soft Foam Play Mat Puzzle Jigsaw With Number (0-9) Pop-Out (approximately £6 from eBay)
- 5 sheets of A5 silver mirror Board Card. PP65 to fit inside the puzzle shaped box (available cut to size from eBay for around £22)
- Thin wooden sticks/pieces for sturdiness and creating a frame (around £1 from your local hardware or DIY store)
- Strong glue
Putting the fun toy together is quite straightforward and you can be sure the kids will love it.
Building your Sensory Mirror Toy
There are three key steps to creating your sensory mirror toy:
- Glue all the puzzle/floor mat pieces together to create an open-faced box shape
- Add a frame to the edges by gluing the thin pieces of wood – to reinforce the toy’s structure
- Glue each mirror to the inside of the box covering the foam base and sides
The finished result should look something like this:
Of course you can add other things in too – if you choose to make a larger toy you could use more floor mat pieces, more mirrors and make a huge version for lying down in – creating an even more enjoyable sensory experience.
Ways to Play
There are many ways you and your child can enjoy this exploratory toy. It’s a great place for them to lie gently down on a pillow and look into the mirrors. It’s also great for imaginative play as you pop a toy or two into the window area of the toy and your children play with both the toy and its reflection. The mirrors internal surfaces will all reflect back and so even fairy lights and flashing toys would be great fun.
Once you’ve had a go at this toy you’ll probably be inspired to try others and we’ve shown off some other homemade toy ideas before.
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?
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:
- Toys and Books
- At Home
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!
Have you heard of Steps Charity?
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
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.
— @trabasack Duncan E. (@trabasack) September 6, 2012
Lights! Camera! Action! Video and Art Editing Apps to Encourage Self-Expression.
Due to such fantastic advancements in technology over the past decade, children can utilise media such as video and photography with relative ease, and this collection of quirky art apps will help promote your child’s eye for creativity and nurture their desire for self-expression. Apps and other activities that can encourage children to be creative and express themselves are essential for children with special educational needs or disabilities as they can often experience difficulty expressing their feelings or needs.
iLookFunny This photographic iPod app will provide endless fun and laughter, as I Look Funny overlays unusual accessories over the top of a normal snapshot – add funky sunglasses to the family pet, a silly wig and hat to dad or let your child transform themselves into everything from a bunny to a clown; I Look Funny is a fun way to play virtual dress-up.
Face Time with Mage Nuttimugs is a fun and interactive iPad app that places your child at the heart of the story! This simple, rhyme-filled interactive book takes a photo of your child’s face and places it on the head of the lead character – and using touch-screen technology, their photo is altered throughout the story to present them with happy, silly and sad faces. There’s also a lovely moral to the story, in that you are perfect just the way you are.
Toontastic If your child is particularly taken by cartoons and the art of comic books, then Toontastic is the perfect iPad tool for helping them to create their very own comic-book style art and cartoon animations. This multi-award winning app includes a vast cast of characters (as well as a “draw your own character” feature) and a selection fantastical settings, giving your child an easy and exciting introduction to independent story telling.
iMovie has become a highly acclaimed industry standard video editor due to its simplicity and straight forward usability, and in turn lends itself perfectly for use by young children. Create short films or movies with just a few multi-touch gestures, and soundtrack each masterpiece with your child’s favourite MP3 or voice over.
There’s no doubt that these exciting and creative apps will bring out the artist in your child, and as every artist needs an easel, the Trabasack range of iPad lap desks provide a stable and sturdy play tray with a specially designed iPad mount aid for wheelchair users; the lap desk bags attach to the wheelchair with ease, and the ergonomic shape of the Connect Curve fits snugly around the child’s waist, ensuring comfort whilst in use.
These iPad apps were recently featured at the Manchester TES Resources Show 2012 by Ian Bean, former teacher and ICT coordinator at Priory Woods School, Inclusive Technology’s Consultancy and Training Manager now Independent Special Needs ICT consultant and trainer specialising in the use of ICT and assistive technology to support learners of all ages with severe and complex additional needs.
Creativity Comes Forth with Musical Sensory iPad Apps
After your child has explored the apps that encourage touch skills, musical ipad apps are a smooth progression. Little ones love to make music; whether it’s a keyboard concerto or simply a percussive performance using your pots and pans, these fantastic iPad apps provide the perfect sensory stimuli whilst allowing your child to sharpen their skills as a mini maestro!
GlowTunes This unique app combines art and music, by allowing your child to draw a picture using brightly coloured pixels, which is then transformed into an extraordinary tune, using 1 of the 12 high quality instruments on offer. The compositions can then be save and shared amongst friends and family to enjoy.
Virtuoso Piano Pro Classic This musical app is modern take on the traditional piano, offering 7 octaves of sampled concert piano and a choice of effects, offering a truly authentic piano sound. The Virtuoso also features an adjustable keyboard size, perfect for little or large fingers alike.
Songify Songify is a rather novel yet endlessly entertaining way of producing unique musical tracks; this iPod app records sections of speech and via autotune, and then transforms the recorded words into a bespoke song. There’s many different styles of song included with the basic Songify app, with plenty of others available at an extra cost, so no matter what sort of rhythm rocks the boat of your child, there’s a song style to suit.
GarageBand – Apple If your child is looking to create a full-on and layered musical masterpiece, then Garage Band is the perfect iPad app. The simplicity of on-screen gestures can be used to create magnificent instrumental audio that might be difficult via an ordinary instrument, and the multi-touch keyboard makes tapping out drum beats or melodies as easy as can be. This app can also be used via WiFi or Bluetooth with up to 3 other mobile devices (such as iPad, iPod or iPhone) which is perfect for group musical sessions.
iPads are a fantastic way for providing your child with a creative outlet, and the Trabasack range of sensory iPad tray bags are the perfect addition to your child’s playtime – each iPad bag features a built-in lap tray with ‘connect’ surface, which allows you to attach electronic devices such as iPads with ease – offering safety and security whilst in use. The Trabasack iPad lap tray bags also fit comfortably on wheelchairs and buggies, providing the ultimate practical play-space on the go.
This creative collection of iPad apps were showcased at the TES Resources show in Manchester by Ian Bean, former teacher and ICT coordinator at Priory Woods School, Inclusive Technology’s Consultancy and Training Manager now Independent Special Needs ICT consultant and trainer specialising in the use of ICT and assistive technology to support learners of all ages with severe and complex additional needs.
Boost Hand-Eye Coordination with Touch Skill Apps
We have taken time to have a look at a collection of iPad apps on offer, that allow children to practice and hone their touch skills; which in turn helps to improve a child’s all important hand-eye coordination, whilst at the same time keeping them entertained with fun and interactive virtual displays of wondrous colours and visual textures.
The iPad is now an essential hands-on educational tool for children of all ages and abilities, and when teamed with the fantastic Trabasack sensory play tray, your child will be provided with a perfectly practical (and fun!) iPad experience.
Ooze Ooze is a physics-based app that provides children with an interactive projection of swirling and psychedelic “goo” in striking neon, fluorescent colours. Altering the position of the iPad, as well as using on-screen gestures with the hands, will cause the goo to transform in shape, and shift through a spectrum of bright rainbow colours. Brilliant fluorescent colours app for the ipad.
Reactickles Magic Reactickles is a suite of apps specifically designed with children and adults on the autistic spectrum in mind. Extensive research involving children with learning difficulties has resulted in Cariad Interactive creating a range of playful and dynamic applications that use audio input, touch and gesture to encourage not only the importance of cause and effect, but also to provide a relaxing learning experience.
Draw with Stars! This art-based app takes inspiration from Van Gogh’s famous “Starry Night” masterpiece, and allows your child to create pictures using cascades of colourful star shapes whilst benefiting from a soundtrack of engaging chimes and whooshes.
Hidden Grid Hidden Grid is a colourful app that encourages the use of touch, drag and drop abilities. Moving your fingers around the screen will uncover hidden shapes and patterns in a variety of entrancing colours, with a variety of different pitched sounds.
Peeping Musicians This funky and fun music-based app features contemporary illustrations that will really appeal to children from preschool and beyond, and has been designed to fortify basic observation skills, as well as touch targeting.
This page was created from information provided by Ian Bean, former teacher and ICT coordinator at Priory Woods School, Inclusive Technology’s Consultancy and Training Manager now Independent Special Needs ICT consultant and trainer specialising in the use of ICT and assistive technology to support learners of all ages with severe and complex additional needs. Please visit his website for much more information and training opportunities.
How to make a sensory garden
We have created a small area as a sensory garden for our son, Joe who has dravet syndrome. We have used wind chimes and windmills, a colourful flag from a carboot sale and some streamers hanging from the trees. We also added a small water feature, a pump in a wooden barrel creates a pleasant rippling noise for Joe.
To find out about suitable plants for a sensory garden, I asked Garden designer and restoration specialist Charlie Bloom for some ideas on the most approriate plants to choose:
Sensory plants for any garden
A garden by definition is a place to excite and satisfy the senses each can be stimulated by using plants that not only look beautiful, but also feel and smell as such. With that in mind, I have made a list of some of my favourites that are fully hardy and will enhance any sensory garden planting scheme.
Touch and feel
There are a number of plants that have soft, velvety foliage. Stachys byzantia and Salvia argentia have woolly sliver leaves, known affectionately as “lambs ears”, these plants are purely tactile, but both adorn themselves with tall flower spikes during the summer.
Phlomis fruticosa is a bit more conservative in its wooliness, but none the less is soft to the touch and has garish yellow flowers during the summer.
In contrast, Miscanthus sinensis, is a graceful swaying grass, that bursts with silky flowers that rustle gently in the breeze.
Plants have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal qualities, many as aromatics and thus add another dimension to the garden, as plants that can awake our sense of smell, an essential in a sensory garden.
Monarda didyma, also known as Bergamot, has a heady aromatic scent, with the benefit of many heads of scarlet pompom flowers in the summer.
Lavender has been long associated with relaxation and rest and the oil is harvested to add to a myriad of products. Helychrysum or Curry Plant has a distinct aroma of curry spice and has a burst of yellow flowers. With all aromatics and herbs, by rubbing the leaves and stalks between the fingers, the oils are released and the full power released.
The extra dimension of taste can be provided by all fruits, vegetables and herbs, aromatics like Mints, Rosemary and Chives.
Rosemarinus officinales (Rosemary), Mentha spicata (Mint) and Allium schoenoprasum (chives) are also good choices.”
Some care should be taken with aromatic plants if your child has epilepsy. There have been incidences of ‘plant induced seizures’ particularly with rosemary. Something to bear in mind!
As this post has been so popular we asked Charlie for some more ideas for planting a sensory garden:
Sensory Planting: Multi-Sensory Experiences
Many plants are used simply for their colour and abundance of flowers, however there are many plants that can provide a multi-sensory experience and thus can make a garden or even a small raised bed into a place of great enjoyment and learning. Stimulating the senses of sight, smell, sound and feel. Providing colour and texture to a garden with the added advantage of depth of fragrance and edibility.
The Multi-Sensory Plants
Day Lilly, a wondrous plant that produces long spikes with large beautiful flowers, that are edible and have a sweet taste, they look stunning in any garden as they are hardy and produce flowers for the entire summer. The seed pods rattle in the autumn.
Oregano, a heavily scented edible herb, with an abundance of purple/pink flowers in summer. The leaves can be rubbed between the fingers to release the scent and can also be tasted and used in cookery.
Thyme, another small aromatic herb, very hardy and has hard woody stems that can be broken to realise the scent. It is also tactile in the sense it is like a little shrub and can be patted and squeezed without much damage done.
Chives are a member of the allium/onion family and have sprays of purple pompoms in the late spring, the leaves are highly scented especially when you squeeze them and can be eaten in handfuls.
Rosemary, a highly aromatic herb and one that displays many purple flowers in late spring, larger shrubs can be shaken with care by the wooden stems with will rustle and release some of the scent.
Nasturtiums, are easily grown from seed and will put on a flaming display of flowers throughout the summer; they are also aromatic and edible and can be cropped and eaten in the bucket load.
Bio for Charlie Bloom
Thanks to Gemma Conyard who sent us this lovely picture of her son with a red trimmed Trabasack Curve Connect. “My son with his Trabasack curve connect, I made him textured activity discs to keep him occupied while out and about :-)” She has put discs of material with different textures and colours so he can explore them. The sensory discs are a brilliant idea, being lightweight and easy to put inside the trabasack, they are great for children travelling in their buggies. I love the way she has put a little clacking frog in the middle so that it makes a click when he presses it!
Trabasack Connect is very good for attaching toys and materials as it has a soft fabric covering that sticks to ‘hook’ or rough velcro tape. I expect each of the sensory discs has a small piece of ‘hook’ tape so that it can be repositioned around the trabasack tray top.
Trabasack was created by a mum designing something that helped her child play so we love it when we see people creating toys to use with it.
You can use it to attach all sorts of homemade sensory toys. Here is a sensory toy that we made for our son last year. It doesn’t include a picture of our Joe as he had quite gruesome chicken pox at the time!
As you can see, we used some plastic bottles, some masking tape (orange and neon!), plastic flowers, tin foil and some wind chimes.
There are lots of things around the house that can be used as sensory play toys. You can experiment with anything with textures, bright colours or that make interesting noises, as long as it is safe for your child. If you enjoy crafts, doing it can be a lot of fun.
When you have experimented please do send your pictures to us at info(at)trabasack.co.uk Any pictures showing homemade toys on a trabasack will win one of our fun Trabasack ‘Manifesto’ T Shirts.
This article first appeared on the Trabasack website here: Homemade Sensory Toys
Our son Joe is now 7! He got lots of new sensory toys for his birthday including a ‘Lollipop Jungle’ from TFH Special Needs Toys.
It has always been hard to find Joe toys that he can enjoy. Joe has Dravet Syndrome and although he had an ordinary development as a baby, suddenly severe epilepsy began at about 9 months old. He lost lots of skills, and is now trying to re- learn and develop new skills in feeling and grasping objects.
Joe started to have have a portage teacher at around 2 years old and we were thrilled to see that she was able to start simple exercises with him to help him explore his surroundings again. One of the things that his portage teacher discovered was that Joe liked rough and prickly textures but didn’t like smooth toys anymore! We found that rough textures like ‘hook’ velcro tape, or ridged surfaces seemed to help him connect with things and he would hold his hands against them and explore them for much longer. With smooth untextured surfaces Joe would quickly pull his hands away.
Joe does like smooth surfaces now but he also still likes to explore prickly and textured surfaces. We are always looking for new sensory play toys for him to explore on his trabasack. We were pleased to find a great new toy for him called a Lollipop Jungle
The Lollipop Jungle is a yellow hardwood tray base with plastic ‘lollipops’ that you can attach things to. The tray base can itself be attached to a Trabasack using velcro tape or hook tape. This allows it to be within reach of your child and the soft bean bag cushion under the Trabasack means it can rest comfortably there.
The plastic straw lollipops are various colours that add to the sensory appeal of the toy. You can use them to add other items such as cotton reels, toys, sponges, or anything that your child might like to explore.
Joe really enjoyed moving his fingers between the straws and finding new objects to play with. The straws have have plastic beads on top of them so that they are safe. Each bead has a safety stopper to prevent it coming off. This gives it the appearance of a lollipop!
The toy came flat packed but was very easy to assemble, and once the stalks are in place and the lollipops slotted into the board they are very difficult to remove, an important safety feature.
- International Dravet Syndrome Awareness Day 2015
- Six Neck and Head Support Options for your Child
- Gripping Aids for Children
- Sensory Stories for Children and Teens – The Book!
- What to Pack for your Child’s Hospital Stay
- How to make your own Sensory Wall
- Homemade Mirror Cube Sensory Toy
- Join Trabasack and Active Hands at Kidz in the Middle
- Sensory Play at Naidex National 2014
- Festive Christmas Apps for Kids