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music for special needs

Festive Christmas Apps for Kids

Festive Christmas Apps for Kids

Sleeps to Christmas Apple App

As December is upon us, it’s time to look towards Christmas and Flo Longhorn, a multi sensory education expert has collected together some of the best festive iPad apps around. Here we’re having a close look at the some of the list.

Sleeps to Christmas  -A fab and fun Christmas countdown! Every second to Christmas day is catered for and it’s animated with great cartoons and music. As Flo says, it’s great for maths and great fun, although overexcited children are a definite side effect.

PopOut! The Night Before Christmas – this is a hugely anticipated and interactive pop up Christmas book, viewable from the comfort of your iPad. Check out the video at the below to see how great this app truly is.

Xmas Top 100 Hits – enjoy some celebratory Christmas tunes. Great for every family member as you can enjoy and reminisce over the classic Christmas tracks.

Jingle Bells!  – great fun and interactive, with Jingle Bells you tap Christmas bells in time with the tunes and have plenty of fun doing so.

Christmas Match – various interactive matching games, made more fun because of their Christmas theme. A great way to get kids excited for Christmas.

These are just some of the great apps that Flo’s come across and the best thing is the majority are free. You can enjoy these apps via the Apple App Store and there’s bound to be one which suits your family. Many of these apps appeal to different senses and can be enjoyed by those with different needs and abilities, just have a browse through. They’re great for both using at home and in the classroom. Below is a video showing the fantastic Popout! The Night Before Christmas

We’ve since had a look ourselves at what’s on offer for kids over Christmas. A very good place to look for apps is the Facebook page of Ian Bean, a communication and special education expert known as SENICT. We have found some more fantastic festive apps we thought we’d share. Take a look at these four exciting offerings.

There Is A Star – this app features a fun, festive animated video perfect for entertaining kids at Christmastime. The cute little characters are both entertaining and easy for children to engage with. The funny animated element of this app makes it great for toddlers and older children too. Christmas Carols for Kids – who doesn’t love a god sing a long? We know must children do especially at Christmas and these fun sing a long carols can create hours of fun. Affordable, family friendly and even educational, this app ticks all the boxes. The festive themed tunes are great for getting into the festive spirit too.

Dancing Max Hippo

Dancing Max Hippo

A Big Fat Xmas : Max Hippo HD – BANG BANG– meet Max Hippo, the most festive hippopotamus around! Max is your interactive 3D pal who is disco dancing his way to a Happy New Year. This app is a lot of fun and is bound to have your kids in peals of laughter as they watch max strutting his stuff and enjoying the festive tunes included in the app. Nighty Night!  – this fun storybook app won Best App of the Year 2011 in the books category in both America and Germany so it must be good. It’s an interactive wintery tale which children can really engage with and it includes an integrated go-to-sleep routine to help kids settle down for the night. Below is a video showing how wonderful and magical Nighty Night! is and how it’s perfect for reading on Christmas Eve in preparation for the big day itself:

Don’t forget the Trabasack for your child’s tablet or iPad

Trabasack Xmas Special Bundle Offer

There is still time to take advantage of our special xmas offer:

We’re pleased to announce we’re currently offering a Curve Connect bundle deal – click here.

Perfect for use as an iPad/kindle or tablet  bag and mount for your child to enjoy their xmas gifts. It comes with all the accessories you need Playing_with_sensory_toys_on_a_Trabasack347fd5 including a Media Mount, non-slip mat and additional hook tapes for securing an Ipad or tablet or other 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 or watch the video 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

Making Music iPad Apps

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!
image icon for the Glow Tunes iPad app 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.



image icon for the Virtuoso iPad app 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.




image icon for the Songify iPad app 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.



Icon image for Garage Band iPad app 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.


Child in wheelchair uses Trabasack lap tray to play with iPad

The Trabasack Curve Connect provides the perfect iPad play space for children in wheelchairs

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.

Skoog The Inclusive Musical Instrument that is Going Mainstream

Image shows the "Skoog" - a white foam cube with convex semicircles in primary colours on each side.

A curious little cube – the Skoog is a truly accessible musical instrument!

Skoog – The Squishy Cube that is Now Available on the Apple Store!

We have been big fans of skoog since we first saw it and are thrilled to see it breaking through into mainstream use, and now  it is EVEN AVAILABLE ON THE APPLE STORE! 

The Skoog is a curiously titled electronic device that, when combined with computer software, can bring the world of art and music to life for those with learning difficulties and physical disabilities.

“What exactly is a Skoog?!” I hear you ask – well, the Skoog is a soft, durable cube with coloured convex semi-circles on each side that work as buttons. It is made from a tactile and squeezable foam that really appeals to sensory desires, and when the “buttons” are pressed (or hit, tapped and even if the Skoog is shaken-about!) musical notes are created through the computer software.

Skoog Video from The Apple Store – all music featured made using a Skoog

The Skoog has been created to be easy to use and implement at home or in an educational setting – so simple to set-up, it simply connects to either PC or Mac via USB and once you have the correct software installed, you’re away!

The simplicity of usability of the Skoog makes it ideal for children and adults with learning difficulties or physical impairments, especially in comparison to traditional, conventional instruments. The sounds that can be created are endless, from the smooth, airy notes of a flute, to the warm pluck of Spanish guitar strings – all these creative noises and more are literally at fingertips of anyone who uses it.

Image of a man in an orange t-shirt, with the Skoog on a table in front of him, as he holds the USB lead out towards the camera

So simple to install and use – just plug ‘n’ play via USB, and you’re away!

What’s more is that the Skoog can be activated using any body-part (such as the chin, elbow, feet etc), which adds further accessibility for those with limited movement and dexterity, or those with physical disabilities.

The Skoog is itself touch-sensitive, and this setting can easily be altered whenever needed through the advanced software used to create the musical output for the Skoog. This not only enables the user to pick an instrument of choice to experiment with, but also allows for further creative expression – changing the timbre and force with which the notes are produced, providing endless scope for creating musical art.

The Skoog is a fantastic and innovative creative tool that has helped many children and adults around the world create music and art with ease, providing them with confidence, a sense of progress and achievement, and not to mention, an abundance of musical fun!

Pioneered by Disabled Musicians

Amongst the many pioneering electronic musicians who champion the Skoog as an instrument of choice is Charlotte White. Charlotte had an accident when she was in her early teens, and although it took a lot of strength and courage, she was determined to continue on her musical journey that she started before the accident.

Charlotte’s muscular-neuro disease has made it difficult to use musical instruments in the traditional way, but with the help of a number of innovative technologies such as the Skoog, she has been given the chance to create music again and be part of a number of orchestras and ensembles that have performed across the globe.

Charlotte is currently working on a new composition using the Skoog, and you can see photos of her performing with the Paraorchestra in Qatar here, along with a little help from her trusty Trabasack (or “Trabba” as Charlotte calls it! 🙂

The Skoog Goes Mainstream

Although the Skoog is of course ideal for aiding those with disabilities to creatively express themselves, it is also proving to be quite a hit as a versatile, mainstream musical instrument.

Image is split into 4 distinct sections - at the top orange background with "VOCALS" in text, Brett's head in headphones singing. Three bottom sections are green, blue and red from left to right. Reading "GUITAR, DRUMS, BASS" each one showing band member playing the Skoog for each instrument.

The Brett Domino Trio demonstrate the true versatility of the Skoog.

Fantastic news is that the Skoog is now available to purchase directly from the mainstream outlet of the Apple Store across Europe. The Skoog’s quirky design and unusual usability is sure to appeal to many at-home maestros and professional instrumentalists alike – and moreover, can now be purchased so simply with just a few clicks!

To illustrate the creative possibilities of the Skoog, watch the video below of the inimitable Brett Domino, doing a rather idiosyncratic cover version of the OutKast hit “Hey Ya!”

The Skoog reviewed in Future Music Magazine

graphic of a text [panel describing the skoog

The Skoog as reviewed in Future Music Magazine

The Skoog has also recently been reviewed in Future Music Magazine. Describing as a “distinctive, squishy, colourful object” and suggesting that you “pair it with an AlphaSphere for the ultimate WTF controller set up. 8/10″

The Skoog is so intuitive to use, and so much fun, there are seemingly endless creative ways of using it to create your own musical masterpiece. Click here to view and purchase the Skoog from the official Apple Store UK.