First published: Summer 2018 (from Scope's online community 2015)
My kids love a treasure hunt. The other day we collected sticks to make a pretend camp fire. Other times the 'treasure' has been stones or daisies. It’s a good, inclusive activity disabled and non-disabled children all enjoy.
Play tents make great sensory spaces when kitted out with everyday items eg fairy lights, hanging old CD’s, tinsel.
Star in your own film
Use your camcorder – or the video on your phone – to make a film of a favourite book. We did The Tiger Who Came to Tea, using a toy stuffed tiger, shots of our table set up for tea, empty food packets, and a homemade cardboard claw peeking round the front door. You can do lots of voiceovers to explain what is happening, or do it documentary-style and interview the Mummy, the child, the cafe owner, Daddy, the Tiger etc.
Make homemade slime. Get a pack of cornflour, mix it with water so it's gloopy but not runny and then add green food colouring.
Most toy libraries have specialist toys for people with special needs to borrow. Many projects also have stay and play opportunities. There may also be mobile home visiting services.
Life-sized cardboard cut-outs
Use either a large piece of card or lining paper (joined together if necessary). Draw around each other and cut up old clothes and cloths to dress your portraits up.
A real catch
A velcro ball and catch mitt set has been fantastic for my son, who is unable to catch a regular ball. Great for fun, cause and effect and coordination. Ours was under £5 from eBay – check out 'Spordas No Miss'.
Turn your house into a cinema. Choose a DVD together (bought or borrowed from the local library) make tickets, posters etc. Invite friends if you've got the space and then make popcorn, close the curtains and enjoy.
Smelly socks game
Use up some old small socks or go to a charity shop. Then scent some cotton wool balls with different smells like tea, coffee, lemon, apple or tomato ketchup. Try a variety of smells, taking care not to use anything to which your child may be allergic. When the cotton balls are dry and all the ingredients are placed in the socks, tie the socks up with a ribbon, and play a game of Guess the smell.
Wrapping paper’s not just for Christmas
If your child is visually impaired children or has a sensory impairment, sparkly Christmas wrapping paper is very good for catching and holding attention. Gold, in particular, or anything with a rainbow/prism effect seems to work well to stimulate those with visual impairment.
Make a den
My daughter loves it if we put a sheet over the dining table and make a den. I bring some of her sensory lights in and we all sit underneath. Her brothers think it’s great too!
Try threading cheerios with your child to make an edible necklace.
Stick some blank paper on a wall somewhere and turn it into a 'graffiti wall'. You can also paint a wall with blackboard paint or put up a big white board for graffiti fun.
Homemade jigsaw puzzle
I’ve found a good cheap way to keep my daughter occupied is to get her to choose a picture from a magazine, then I cut it up, and she reassembles the picture, gluing it on to paper. You can use photos as well. You can make it as simple or complicated as you want. I use simple ones to help calm her down and more complicated ones when she needs a new distraction.
Put on the music and have a competition.
We use a plastic box and fill it with different things for sensory play. Sometimes dried beans, sand, shaving foam – we put different smells in like vanilla essence or curry powder to make it more interesting. Sometimes we squeeze toothpaste in which is good fun when you get it all over your hands because it dries quickly.
We've been using words on the back of paper-clipped paper fish with a magnetic fishing rod to make a game out of reading.
Raid the recycling and make some musical instruments. Fill jars and plastic containers with rice to make shakers, elastic bands over a box can make a great guitar and balloons stretched over tubs for some bangin' drums!
Poppy has very little fine motor skills and struggles with most art and craft activities. So I stuck some wrapping paper to the wall and we made hand prints on it. Then we cover it in glue and threw glitter at. Messy but great fun!
We've created a 'sensory wall' by sticking old yoghurt pots on the wall - you can also put bubble wrap, biscuit packet insides, corrugated paper, sand paper ....
These tips were all contributed by parents of disabled children. Find more great tips like these, and share your own on Scope’s online community.